Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Cook Inlet Academy Eagle Ashleigh Hammond avoids a steal from Nikolaevsk Warrior Megan Hickman, Thursday at Cook Inlet Academy in Soldotna.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Cook Inlet Academy Eagle Ashleigh Hammond avoids a steal from Nikolaevsk Warrior Megan Hickman, Thursday at Cook Inlet Academy in Soldotna.

CIA, Nikolaevsk split in hoops action

The Nikolaevsk girls may have let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers at last year’s state tournament, but the Warriors look to be back and ready to try again.

Nikolaevsk completed a perfect eight-win Peninsula Conference campaign Thursday at Cook Inlet Academy with a 34-25 victory over the Eagles. With its seventh-straight win, Nikolaevsk bumped its final overall record to 16-2.

“I knew it was gonna be tough,” said Nikolaevsk coach Bea Klaich. “I have a lot of respect for CIA, but I told our girls, I know they (CIA) have some losses this season, but don’t let that fool you. They’re gonna be ready for us.”

The win gave the Warriors a season sweep over CIA. In the first meeting of the year, Nikolaevsk edged CIA 38-37 in double overtime.

While the game was the regular season finale for Nikolaevsk, CIA still has work to do. The Eagles travel to play Seldovia today and finish off the year against Nanwalek on Saturday.

Nadejda Gordeev provided a late offensive boost by scoring eight points and grabbing a team-high 15 rebounds. Gordeev hit two late buckets in the fourth quarter that allowed the Warriors to seal the win. Megan Hickman led the Warriors in scoring with 13 points.

Senior Madison Orth led CIA with 11 points, while fellow senior captain Ashleigh Hammond added six and sophomore Danielle Hills returned from injury to post seven points. The Eagles were also missing junior Kendra Brush to injury, a crucial piece of their starting lineup.

In what started as a defensive lockdown, the Warriors failed to hit a single shot in the first quarter, scoring one point. Helpfully though, the Eagles weren’t hitting much either, as they scored four points.

Klaich offered a simple explanation for the early offensive struggle.

“It’s CIA,” she quipped. “They just get in our head.”

But Nikolaevsk finished strong, scoring more points in each of the last two quarter than the first half total.

Trailing 11-9 at halftime, Nikolaevsk came out strong in the third quarter, with three straight points from Serafima Kalugin that gave the Warriors a lead.

Orth responded by drawing two fouls from Nikolaevsk that resulted in free points. Nikolaevsk answered back a second time with an eight-point run that resulted in a 22-13 lead with 23 seconds left in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Nikolaevsk won the rebounding battle when CIA was looking to claw back. Gordeev, who according to coach Klaich, had been averaging about four minutes a game this year, came on strong just when the Warriors needed her. Klaich said Gordeev’s first full game was against Ninilchik last week. Gordeev twice sunk a floater that pushed the lead to a two-possession advantage.Free throws from Kilina Klaich and Hickman iced the game in the final 18 seconds.

CIA boys 61, Nikolaevsk 47

It’s no secret who the CIA boys weapon is. Timmy Smithwick hit double digits in points scored before the first quarter was up Thursday against Nikolaevsk, ultimately ending up with 32 to lead the Eagles to a conference victory.

Smithwick, a regular visitor to the 30-point scoring range, led CIA to a season sweep of Nikolaevsk. The Eagles beat the Warriors with the same margin of victory — 14 points — in late January.

“We’re playing mentally strong,” said CIA coach Justin Franchino. “I’ve talked about being in control of your emotions, your body and your mind. We struggled with that early in the season, but what makes me so proud right now is we’re staying composed and working hard as a team for four quarters.”

Freshman teammate and brother Johnny Smithwick also chipped in 10 points.

Smithwick started hot by scoring 11 in the first quarter to give CIA a quick 21-10 lead by the waning seconds of the frame.

“What he’s doing now is he’s taking better shots, he’s working into the offense with his team and playing much better with his teammates,” Franchino said. “He’s putting four solid quarters together.”

Franchino added that although Timmy is consistently the top points scorer on the team, senior captain and older brother Riley Smithwick is “the rock on the team.”

Riley began senior night in appropriate fashion, starting the scoring with an arcing 3-pointer 13 seconds into the game.

After building up a double-digit lead, CIA’s shots began missing in the second quarter. It allowed the Warriors to get back in the game with several precise floaters from Jonah Fefelov and Neil Gordeev. Combined with the perimeter threat that Nikit Fefelov brought to the court, CIA began to find itself stretched pretty thin.

Nikolaevsk cut the lead to 29-27 on a pair of free throws from Felemon Molodih with 1:33 left in the first half, which led to a halftime score of 34-28.

In the third quarter, however, CIA found two advantages. One was Timmy Smithwick, who helped build the gap back up with three big shots off of Nikolaevsk turnovers, including a trey four minutes through the frame that put the Eagles up 40-30.

Another thing that helped was Gordeev being caught in foul trouble, which forced Nikolaevsk coach Steve Klaich to pull him off the court. Gordeev, who is averaging a double-double this year with 12 points and 10 rebounds per game, was charged with his fourth foul early in the fourth quarter.

“When he’s not in the game, we miss his athleticism,” Klaich said. “We were hoping for someone else to step up and fill the gap to give him a couple minutes to catch his breath. We still lost some intensity.”

Riley Smithwick sank a free throw with 2:14 left to play that put CIA up 55-43, effectively icing the game.

Klaich could not offer an explanation on why Nikolaevsk came out flat in the third quarter.

“I wish I knew,” Klaich said. “The energy and passion seemed to take a drop in the second half, and we had a few turnovers that hurt us.”

CIA’s last big test of the regular season comes today when they play Seldovia on the road, the only conference team that the Eagles have not beaten. Franchino said a win would go a long way in building his squad’s confidence.

“I know that’s true, but tomorrow will hopefully help prove that,” Franchino said.

Seward girls 41, ACS 38, OT

The host Seahawks came back to earn an overtime win Thursday in Southcentral Conference play.

The Seahawks outscored the Lions 9-2 in the fourth quarter to put the game in overtime. Then Seward won the overtime 10-9. Maria Jackson had 14 points to lead the Seahawks, while Kiana Clemens had 11.

Seward boys 67, ACS 64

The host Seahawks outscored the Lions 16-8 in the third quarter to provide the difference in Thursday’s Southcentral Conference victory.

Ronnie Jackson led a balanced attack for the Seahawks with 15 points, while Alex Pahno had 12 and Michael Marshall and Rhett Sieverts added 10 apiece.

Homer girls 51,
Grace Christian 30

The host Mariners cruised past the Grizzlies on Thursday in Southcentral Conference play.

Madison Akers had 19 points to lead the Mariners, while Larsen Fellows added 10. For Grace, Mary Hogan had 11.

Grace boys 66, Homer 65

The visiting Grizzlies edged the Mariners in nonconference play Thursday.

For Grace, Trevor Osborne and Ryan Sheldon had 14 points apiece, while Tobin Karlberg had 13 points and Daniel Vanderweide added 10. Jaruby Nelson poured in 27 for Homer, while Sheldon Hutt had 17 and Kenneth Schneider added 12.

Thursday girls

Warriors 34, Eagles 25

Nikolaevsk 1 8 13 12 —34

CIA 4 7 4 10 —25

NIKOLAEVSK (34) — Ki. Klaich 0 1-4 1, Kr. Klaich 1 0-1 2, Fefelov 1 0-0 2, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Kalugin 3 1-1 8, Gordeev 4 0-2 8, Dorvall 0 0-0 0, Hickman 5 3-8 13. Totals 14 5-16 34.

CIA (25) — Delon 0 0-0 0, Carey 0 0-0 0, Hills 3 1-2 7, Lyons 0 1-2 1, Hammond 2 2-4 6, McGahan 0 0-0 0, Orth 3 5-10 11. Totals 8 9-18 25.

3-point goals — Nikolaevsk 1 (S. Kalugin). Fouled out — none.

Seahawks 41, Lions 38

ACS 6 17 12 2 9 —38

Seward 4 7 11 9 10 —41

ANCHORAGE CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS (38) — Bowden 4 3-3 12, Land 1 0-0 2, Williams 1 0-1 2, Carr 6 1-4 13, Thibedeaux 4 1-4 9. Totals — 16 5-13 38.

SEWARD (41) — Anderson 0 2-2 2, Honebein 1 0-0 2, Jackson 4 2-2 14, Baldwin 0 1-2 1, Lipanskas 2 1-2 5, Perea 2 2-4 6, Clemens 4 2-5 11. Totals — 12 10-16 41.

3-point goals — ACS 1 (Bowden); Seward 5 (Jackson 4, Clemens). Team fouls — ACS 19, Seward 16. Fouled out — Williams, Perea.

Mariners 51, Grizzlies 30

Grace 3 14 0 13 —30

Homer 12 11 11 17 —51

GRACE CHRISTIAN (30) — VanderWeide 1 2-2 4, Hagen 4 1-2 9, Ma. Shamburger 0 0-0 0, Hogan 4 3-3 11, Logan 1 0-0 2, Lindfors 0 0-0 0, Laker 1 0-0 2, Mi. Shamburger 1 0-0 2.

HOMER (51) — Reutov 1 0-0 2, Alexander 1 1-2 3, Ramirez-Clark 1 0-0 2, Akers 8 3-3 19, Fellows 5 0-0 10, Waclawski 3 0-0 8, Stafford 3 0-0 7, Kann 0 0-0 0, Cole 0 0-0 0. Totals — 22 4-5 51.

3-point goals — Homer 3 (Waclawski 2, Stafford). Team fouls — Grace 6, Homer 12. Fouled out — none.

Thursday boys

Eagles 61, Warriors 47

CIA 21 13 12 15 —61

Nikolaevsk 12 16 9 10 —47

CIA (61) — A. Hammond 2 0-0 4, B. Hammond 0 0-0 0, R. Smithwick 2 4-6 9, Miller 0 0-0 0, Barlow 2 0-0 4, J. Smithwick 4 1-2 10, Solie 1 0-0 2, T. Smithwick 15 0-0 32. Totals 26 5-8 61.

NIKOLAEVSK (47) — K. Molodih 2 2-3 6, Trail 0 0-0 0, N. Fefelov 3 1-2 8, Gordeev 3 0-0 7, F. Molodih 3 4-6 11, J. Fefelov 6 0-0 15, Kalugin 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 7-11 47.

3-point goals — CIA 4 (T. Smithwick 2, J. Smithwick 1, R. Smithwick 1); Nikolaevsk 6 (J. Fefelov 3, Molodih 1, Gordeev 1, N. Fefelov 1). Fouled out — none.

Seahawks 67, Lions 64

ACS 16 22 8 18 —64

Seward 20 13 16 18 —67

ANCHORAGE CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS (64) — Huckabay 6 0-1 17, Miller 1 0-0 2, Bronson 1 0-0 2, Scott 0 0-0 0, Nilson 5 4-8 14, Kohotech 4 4-6 12, Auble 6 2-4 17. Totals — 23 10-18 64.

SEWARD (67) — Jacobson 0 0-0 0, Berry 2 1-2 6, Marshall 3 2-2 10, A. Pahno 4 3-5 12, Zweifel 0 0-0 0, Wolfe 6 0-0 14, Sieverts 5 0-0 10, N. Pahno 0 0-0 0, DeBoard 0 0-0 0, Jackson 3 7-8 15. Totals — 23 13-17 67.

3-point goals — ACS 7 (Huckabay 4, Auble 3); Seward 8 (Marshall 2, Wolfe 2, Jackson 2, Berry, A. Pahno). Team fouls — ACS 19, Seward 16. Fouled out — none.

Grizzlies 66, Mariners 65

Grace 17 18 20 11 —66

Homer 16 16 15 18 —65

GRACE CHRISTIAN (66) — Osborne 5 2-2 14, Shamburger 0 0-0 0, McGovern 2 0-0 5, Nieder 1 1-2 3, Vanderweide 4 2-2 10, Murray 3 0-0 7, Karlberg 5 3-5 13, Sheldon 7 0-3 14. Totals — 27 8-14 66.

HOMER (65) — B. Beachy 1 0-0 2, Reutov 3 0-0 7, Schneider 5 1-1 12, Nelson 11 0-0 27, Etzwiler 0 0-0 0, Brown 0 0-0 0, Tedesco 0 0-0 0, Knisely 0 0-0 0, Trowbridge 0 0-0 0, Rainwater 0 0-0 0, Hutt 7 3-5 17. Totals — 27 4-6 65.

3-point goals — Grace 4 (Osborne 2, McGovern, Murray); Homer 7 (Nelson 5, Schneider, Reutov). Team fouls — Grace 7, Homer 14. Fouled out — none.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Nikolaevsk Warrior Nadejda Gordeev dribbles the ball around Cook Inlet Academy Eagle Danielle Hills Thursday at Cook Inlet Academy in Soldotna.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Nikolaevsk Warrior Nadejda Gordeev dribbles the ball around Cook Inlet Academy Eagle Danielle Hills Thursday at Cook Inlet Academy in Soldotna.

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