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SoHi boys rule their own tourney

Posted: Sunday, December 21, 2008

First-year Soldotna coach Matthew Johnson kept coming back to his seniors during his postgame interview Saturday night.

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Photo By M. Scott Moon
Photo By M. Scott Moon
Soldotna's Jake Jansen goes up for a shot in the fourth quarter of Saturday's SoHi Tip-Off championship.

It's hard not to when they accounted for 53 of his team's 66 points.

Tourney MVP Liam Andrus netted 16, Daniel Geller added 14 and Zayan Aberkane had 12 in helping the Stars overcome a second-period lapse in capturing the SoHi Tip-Off Tournament championship with a 66-43 win over Mt. Edgecumbe.

"The biggest thing is with our guys is kind of asking them to play with high intensity early in the season," Johnson said. "If you come out and play and compete 32 minutes, good things are bound to happen. Our seniors really set the tone tonight."

So did SoHi's defense.

After opening up an 18-4 lead in the first quarter, the Stars were suddenly unable to hit a shot, missing 10 straight during a 4:45 dry spell that allowed the Braves to string together an 8-0 run and creep within three with 3:37 to play in the second.

"They missed a lot of close shots," said Mt. Edgecumbe coach Archie Young. "That was a little bit of luck for us."

The Braves' fortunes were squashed soon after when they missed their final six shots of the quarter. Meanwhile, Andrus quelled the drought and preserved the lead and junior Blaine Carver added two of his six points on an acrobatic layup with a minute left in sending Soldotna into the break with a seven-point edge.

That was just the beginning, though.

SoHi's transition game, sparked by Carver and senior Matt Grubb, dominated the third quarter.

Capitalizing on turnovers and missed shots, the Stars pulled down nearly every defensive rebound and immediately pushed the ball up the court for a fast break.

Andrus and Geller each netted four points during a 10-0 run culminated when Grubb dished a bounce pass to Geller for a 36-20 lead with 5:07 left in the third.

"It was pretty much just all about our defense and we kind of, in that second quarter, let them back into it," said Grubb, who scored seven points and added numerous assists. "In that second half, we just came out fired up and picked up the intensity on the defensive half and started running on them.

"Our guys just started running hard and then I was able to find them," he added. "We got running on them and it was good."

Johnson said the coaching staff didn't say anything at halftime about constantly sprinting the floor in the second half.

It was all the players.

"All we really request is intensity -- get after it, play hard, put pressure on them and good things will happen," he said. "We have great senior leadership. ... When you get that from those guys, they've kind of been through it before and they really understand that good things happen when you all play together.

"The ball pressure that they apply makes everyone else's job so easy," he added of his backcourt tandem of Grubb and Carver. "And offensively when you have two guys that handle the ball that well, it gives you a lot of options."

Whatever the Stars changed in the third certainly caught the Braves off-guard.

"We were kind of on our heels with that," Young explained. "The kids didn't expect it. We talked about where we should be when we rebound offensively and we weren't in those positions.

"I didn't mind that they were running cause it was going to help us. But our kids defensively didn't get back to protect it."

Mt. Edgecumbe's Zach Mills recorded a three-point play and Scott Alstrom netted two of his game-high 19 points in trimming the deficit to 11. But following another Braves miss, the Stars advanced the ball to a driving Andrus for two and the senior then bookended a slicing layup by Grubb with an outside jumper and another hard layup in capping an 8-for-12 third-quarter performance from the field and a 44-29 lead.

"It's so nice 'cause I know if I get caught in the lane I can dish to them easily," Grubb said of Geller and Andrus, who are both 6-foot-4. "And they're awesome at finishing around the rim. I know I always have an outlet."

Aberkane drained a pair of 3-pointers from the same spot to begin the fourth, Carver added a nifty layup and Geller dropped four more points in finishing off SoHi's championship run.

"We felt that we had an advantage," Johnson said. "Last night we got to rest some of our guys (against Cook Inlet Academy) so we would be the fresher team. I know Edgecumbe, this is their fourth game in four days and being the fresher team, we really encouraged them to (apply) pressure defense and that will create opportunities to run. And our guys love to run."

Expect more of the same throughout the season, too.

"Get after them on D and run the floor," Grubb said, "that's what we're looking for."

Kenai 46, Cook Inlet 43

All-tournament team selection Josh Lazaro scored 11 points, nine of them in the second half, in helping the Kardinals capture third place with a narrow victory over the Eagles on Saturday.

Kenai, which also got nine points apiece from Tyler Spalding and Jacob Bisset, trailed by one at halftime before outscoring CIA by three in the third and one in the fourth.

Shane Moffis paced the fourth-place Eagles with 17 points, while Garyn Munn added 13 and Scott Litchfield chipped in nine.

Houston 50, Skyview 43

Scott Herman scored 17 points and JT Thompson and Bryan Mason each added 12 in leading the Hawks to a fifth-place finish on Saturday.

Houston was outscored 18-5 in the third quarter, but by that point, it didn't matter because the Hawks had already built a 27-14 halftime lead and then outscored the Panthers by seven in the final frame.

Skyview, which ended up finishing sixth after a one-point heartbreaker to Mt. Edgecumbe in the opening round, was led by Thomas Conley's 12 points and Cameron Harvey's 11.

Cordova 60, Nikiski 46

Christian Brockert netted 15 points, Mike Reodica added 12 and the Wolverines captured seventh place with a victory over the Bulldogs on Saturday.

Cordova owned a 27-17 cushion at halftime and stretched that lead to 18 after a 20-point third quarter.

Justin Wik led Nikiski with 20 points and Sheridan Olson added 15.

The Wolverines also benefited from 10 points from Dane Meyer and nine from Eric Johnson.

Stars 66, Braves 43

Mt. Edgecumbe 7 12 10 14 --43

Soldotna 18 8 18 22 --66

MT. EDGECUMBE (43) -- J. Kewan-Bartleson 1 0-0 3, B. Bartleson 0 0-0 0, Peters 0 0-0 0, Alstrom 6 4-6 19, Vo 1 0-0 2, Melovidov 2 0-0 4, Akootchook 0 0-2 0, Mills 3 1-1 7, Frisby 4 0-0 8. Totals -- 17 5-9 43.

SOLDOTNA (66) -- Story 0 0-0 0, B. Blossom 3 0-0 7, Grubb 2 2-2 7, Carver 3 0-0 6, Aberkane 5 0-0 12, G. Blossom 0 1-2 1, Geller 7 0-0 14, Bauder 1 0-0 3, Jansen 0 0-1 0, Andrus 6 4-6 16. Totals -- 27 7-11 66.

3-point goals -- Mt. Edgecumbe 4 (Alstrom 3, J. Kewan-Bartleson); Soldotna 5 (Aberkane 2, B. Blossom, Grubb, Bauder). Team fouls -- Mt. Edgecumbe 12, Soldotna 16. Fouled out -- None.

Kardinals 46, Eagles 43

Cook Inlet 14 10 7 12 --43

Kenai 13 10 10 13 --46

COOK INLET (43) -- Munn 6 1-3 13, Holly 0 0-0 0, Litchfield 3 1-2 9, Rowley 0 0-0 0, S. Moffis 7 2-5 17, Smithwick 0 0-0 0, Bell 0 0-0 0, M. Moffis 0 0-0 0, Doyle 1 2-6 4. Totals -- 17 6-16 43.

KENAI (46) -- Lowe 1 0-1 2, Rabung 2 2-4 6, Hallmark 0 0-0 0, Kviefer 2 1-2 5, Spalding 4 1-2 9, Crowder 1 0-1 2, Naumoff 0 2-2 2, Aguilar 0 0-0 0, Hull 0 0-1 0, Lazaro 4 2-2 11, Hayes 0 0-0 0, Bisset 2 5-8 9, Reilly 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 16 13-23 46.

3-point goals -- Cook Inlet 3 (Litchfield 2, S. Moffis); Kenai 1 (Lazaro). Team fouls -- Cook Inlet 18, Kenai 14. Fouled out -- Doyle.

Hawks 50, Panthers 43

Houston 15 12 5 18 --50

Skyview 6 8 18 11 --43

HOUSTON (50) -- Mason 5 2-5 12, Qual 1 0-0 2, Contreras 0 1-2 1, Rothley 0 1-3 1, Moore 2 1-2 5, Herman 6 4-5 17, Thompson 5 2-8 12. Totals -- 19 11-25 50.

SKYVIEW (43) -- Sterling 1 0-1 2, Meade 1 0-0 2, Quint 0 0-0 0, Conley 6 0-0 12, Diaz 0 0-0 0, Jones 0 0-0 0, Cook 0 0-0 0, Harvey 4 1-3 11, White 3 0-0 8, Oakes 4 0-0 8, Parham 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 19 1-4 43.

3-point goals -- Houston 1 (Herman); Skyview 4 (Harvey 2, White 2). Team fouls -- Houston 12, Skyview 25. Fouled out -- Meade, Harvey.

Wolverines 60, Bulldogs 46

Cordova 15 12 20 13 --60

Nikiski 9 8 12 17 --46

CORDOVA (60) -- Roemhildt 0 0-0 0, Balint 2 0-0 5, Brockert 7 0-0 15, Meyer 4 0-0 10, Maxwell 0 0-0 0, Banks 2 0-0 4, Reodica 4 2-2 12, Nolan 0 0-0 0, Farnes 0 0-0 0, Barbaza 2 1-2 5, Johnson 4 1-1 9. Totals -- 25 4-5 60.

NIKISKI (46) -- Olson 4 3-4 15, Williams 1 1-2 3, B. Wik 2 2-3 6, Bennett 1 0-0 2, Taylor 0 0-0 0, J. Wik 7 2-2 20, Seater 0 0-0 0, Krogseng 0 0-0 0, Thompson 0 0-0 0, Oyler 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 15 8-11 46.

3-point goals -- Cordova 6 (Meyer 2, Reodica 2, Balint, Brockert); Nikiski 8 (Olson 4, J. Wik 4). Team fouls -- Cordova 14, Nikiski 12. Fouled out -- None.



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