The Kenai City League Basketball 2020 Finals were held Tuesday at the Kenai Recreation Center.
In the A League Final, AK E-Line topped Ellis Automotive 62-59 in a tightly contested battle between two of the top basketball teams in Kenai City League in a thriller before a packed house.
Down by two points with 30 seconds remaining, E-Line forward Mike Hollis hit a 3-pointer in the corner to put his team up for good. Hollis scored 14 of his game-high 16 points in the second half.
Ellis captain David Holloway missed the potential tying 3-point shot in the final seconds. Earlier, Holloway hit a triple to tie the game at 57 with 1:20 left in the game. He finished with 10 points.
E-Line, sporting bright highlighter-yellow colored jerseys, hit eight triples in the game and held the advantage with five more made free throws. Timmy Smithwick scored 11 points while Josiah Martin had 10 points. Martin scored a layup and foul shot on a behind-the-back assist from Smithwick that gave E-Line its largest lead, at five points, with five minutes left.
No team held a lead larger than the seven-point lead Ellis Automotive built eight minutes into the first half. Both teams traded leads back and forth throughout the second half. Erik Lehmann led Ellis with 16 points while Casey Ellis added 13 points.
E-line point guard Jay Harris said the game was a war throughout and credited his teammates for playing smart, tough and keeping their cool down the stretch.
“If it wasn’t a battle it wouldn’t be a championship game,” Harris said. “Talent wins games, teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”
Frustration for the veteran Ellis team, many of whom are Nikiski High alums, boiled over when Lehmann received a technical foul for arguing with the referee. The technical awarded E-line four foul shots and possession with about two minutes remaining. Martin hit 3 of 4 free throws to turn a one-point deficit into a two-point lead.
Holloway said a couple things didn’t go their way down the stretch. After some time to reflect, he said the final game was the best of the whole season.
“Both teams made big shots and timely plays that took it down to the last possession,” he said.
E-line held a 29-26 lead at halftime aided by an unusual play late in the first half. Team captain Joshua Hawley launched a long inbounds pass across court into triple coverage with the pass intended for their shortest player, Jason Spry. The ball deflected off an Ellis defender and dropped right to Spry, who scored an easy layup.
Hawley, who’s known in city league circles to frequently go for the long “TD pass” in games, said he made the risky pass because he knew Spry was looking for it.
E-Line, the top-ranked team in the six-team playoff tournament, beat Royale Parkers Wolfpack to get to the finale. Ellis defeated Frames & Things and upset No. 2 seed The Associates to set up the championship game.
La Familia 62, Tim’s Janitorial 42
With a deep bench and a boisterous crowd rooting behind them, the red clad La Familia defeated Tim’s Janitorial 62-42 in a Kenai City B League Basketball Championship at the Kenai Recreation Center.
Tim’s Janitorial closed the second-half deficit to nine points with about four minutes remaining in the game after a layup and 3-pointer from Jared Wood. La Familia closed the game from that point on with an 11-0 run thanks in part to a 3-pointer from team captain Tony Travers.
La Familia player Charlie Foglia said it was great for his team to finally get over the hump in the championship game. The previous two years his team took second. Everyone on the team is either somehow related to each other or close family friends, Foglia said.
“Tony and I have wanted to put a family team together with all our nephews and cousins growing up,” Foglia said. “Our young guys have been learning how to play the game while us older guys have been coaching them up.”
To get to the tournament final, La Familia beat third-seeded Jelly Locos on Monday night. Tim’s beat Alaska Christian College last week and advanced on a forfeit from team Marathon.