CIA tops Ft. Yukon with buzzer-beater shot

The Fort Yukon boys had rebounding and a vicious defensive press, but the Cook Inlet Academy boys had Timmy Smithwick.

Smithwick, a junior, nailed a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to give CIA a thrilling 50-49 nonconference win over Fort Yukon on Tuesday night at Cook Inlet Academy.

Smithwick scored the Eagles’ final 20 points — including all in the fourth quarter — to end up with a game-high 27, and brought down 15 rebounds for good measure.

“Our strategy was pretty much just to get it down low,” Smithwick said. “We just ran our offense and I saw the double-team so I cut back to the 3-point line and luckily Andrew Hammond saw me there for the assist.”

Freshman Johnny Smithwick chipped in 11 points, and Riley Smithwick, a senior, added eight. Overall, the Smithwick brothers combined for 46 of CIA’s 50 points.

“The thing I was most impressed with (Timmy) is his rebounding,” said CIA coach Justin Franchino. “We knew, especially in this game, was how outsized we were, and tonight was no exception.”

Franchino said Fort Yukon is one of the top teams that his squad will see at the Class 1A level, and the height of several players was key to their success. Fort Yukon outrebounded CIA 17-6 on the offensive glass.

“The reason they stayed in that game in the fourth (quarter) was because of their putbacks,” Franchino said.

Cook Inlet, which had not played Fort Yukon since 2012, moved to 4-2 overall this season.

CIA led 38-34 heading into the fourth quarter, but Franklin and Jerry Carroll led a suffocating defensive press by Fort Yukon to put the visitors back in front in the late stages.

Jerry Carroll broke through the CIA defense for a go-ahead layup with 13 seconds remaining in the game to put Fort Yukon up 49-47.

CIA wasted no time getting the ball back inbounds, racing up the court for a final shot with Andrew Hammond handling the ball. Hammond found Smithwick in the backcourt, and he released the ball with a defender in his face as the buzzer sounded to send the crowd and his teammates into a wild frenzy.

“It felt like forever,” Smithwick said about the final second. “It’s kind of one of those things, everybody’s screaming and once you shoot, it’s just quiet, and it feels like a lifetime.”

Smithwick said the farther away from the 3-point line he stands on the offensive half of the court, the more accurate he typically is. Tuesday’s game-winner came from at least 6 feet away from the arc.

“The closer to the line the less accurate I am, I think,” he said. “At lunchtime, we shoot around from deep for fun, and I guess it just works.”

Prior to the dramatic finish, CIA had let an early eight-point lead in the first half slip away, due mostly to turnovers and Fort Yukon’s ability to get points from offensive rebounds.

CIA led by as much as 12-4 in the first quarter, but Fort Yukon dragged itself back into the game with points from Jerry Carroll, who led his team with 20 points.

Fort Yukon led 20-19 at halftime, and the two teams continued to battle through a third quarter that saw the lead traded six times. No team led by more than three points until the final 23 seconds of the frame.

Johnny Smithwick notched a pair of layups on consecutive possessions for CIA, including a go-ahead shot with 4:58 left in the third quarter to put the Eagles up 30-28, but from that point on, older brother Timmy took control to score the remaining 20 points for CIA.

“The thing that I told them was that the sign of a champion is somebody who, even when you make mistakes and don’t play perfect, you dig down deep and find a way to win,” Franchino said. “That’s what we did tonight.”

CIA girls 39, Fort Yukon 24

The Eagles cruised to a home win over the visiting Fort Yukon squad, which suited up only six players.

Junior Kendra Brush scored a game-high 16 points for CIA, including 12 in the first half. Sophomore teammate Danielle Hills added 12.

Even with the win, CIA coach Kenny Leaf said there are still improvements to be made for the 5-1 Eagles.

“We did not execute well, but it’s something that we’re aware we need to do,” said CIA coach Kenny Leaf. “We’re going up to Delta tomorrow to play a tournament with some 3A schools, so we know we need to execute offensively.”

Leaf said the Eagles tend to play well against high-pressure defenses, but Fort Yukon turnovers were what allowed CIA to pull away.

“We purposefully try to set ourselves up with that,” Leaf said. “We pull up so that we can set those things and run through those things multiple times before taking a shot, but the execution of those offenses is still suspect.”

The home team staked out a 12-2 lead after one quarter, then stretched it to 23-4 with 3:45 to play in the second frame.

However, six unanswered points by Fort Yukon in the final 3:27 of the half resulted in a 23-10 halftime lead for CIA.

In the third quarter, Fort Yukon tried to continue the charge, but fell short with an abundance of mistakes and turnovers, all of which Brush and Hills feasted on for transition buckets.

“Kendra has a really great game,” Leaf said. “She had the confidence to shoot from outside, but more importantly, she was working well from down low getting rebounds.”

The closest Fort Yukon got to CIA in the second half was 12 points. Fort Yukon was led by Aquinnah Tramblay’s 10 points.

Nikiski JV girls 41, Ninilchik 39

The host Bulldogs came back in the fourth quarter for a nonconference victory Tuesday.

Ninilchik led 9-8 after one quarter and 19-17 at halftime. The Wolverines then stretched the lead to 29-24 after three quarters, but Nikiski won the last period 41-39.

Brittany Perry had 18 points for Nikiski, while Avery Kornstad pitched in 12.

For the Wolverines, Jordan Finney pumped in 20 points.

Ninilchik boys 65, Nikiski JV 43

The visiting Wolverines dominated the second half against the Bulldogs to pick up the nonconference win Tuesday.

Nikiski led 24-17 at the half, but Ninilchik won the third period 27-10.

Tyler Presley had 23 points for the Wolverines, while Sam Mireles had 16 points and Austin White added 13 points.

For Nikiski’s JV, Ian Johnson had 16 points.


Tuesday girls

CIA 39, Fort Yukon 24

CIA 12 11 12 4 —39

Fort Yukon 2 8 8 6 —24

CIA (39) — Delon 1 0-0 2, Carey 1 0-1 2, Taplin 0 0-0 0, Hills 4 4-4 12, Brush 7 0-0 16, Lyons 0 0-0 0, Hammond 1 0-3 2, Orth 2 1-2 5. Totals 16 5-10 39.

FT. YUKON (24) — Tramblay 4 2-4 10, Vandyke 1 2-4 4, Cadzow 1 1-2 3, Engler 0 0-1 0, Peter 3 0-0 7, Strom 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 5-11 24.

3-point goals — CIA 2 (Brush 2); Fort Yukon 1 (Peter). Fouled out — Tramblay, Peter.


Bulldogs 41, Wolverines 39

Ninilchik 9 10 10 10 —39

Nikiski 8 9 7 17 —41

NINILCHIK (39) — Delgado 3 2-8 8, Appelhanz 1 0-0 2, Cooper 0 0-0 0, Sinclair 2 1-2 5, Goins 0 1-2 1, Finney 10 0-2 20, Mi. Clark 1 1-1 3. Totals — 17 5-15 39.

NIKISKI (41) — Perry 6 5-6 18, Vollertson 1 0-0 2, Pitt 1 1-2 3, E. Tiner 0 0-0 0, Kornstad 4 4-6 12, Epperheimer 0 0-0 0, A. Tiner 0 0-0 0, Jackson 1 0-0 2, Litzen 0 0-0 0, Porter 0 0-2 0, Feltman 2 0-0 4. Totals — 15 10-16 41.

3-point goals — Nikiski 1 (Perry). Team fouls — Ninilchik 14, Nikiski 14. Fouled out — none.


Tuesday boys

CIA 50, Fort Yukon 49

CIA 13 6 19 12 —50

Ft. Yukon 8 12 14 15 —49

CIA (50) — A. Hammond 1 0-0 2, B. Hammond 0 0-0 0, R. Smithwick 3 0-2 8, Miller 0 0-0 0, Barlow 0 0-0 0, J. Smithwick 5 0-0 11, Solie 1 0-0 2, T. Smithwick 11 4-5 27. Totals 21 4-7 27.

FT. YUKON (49) — Peter 1 0-0 2, Dayton 0 0-1 0, F. Carroll 4 2-4 11, Tremblay 1 0-1 3, Fields 0 0-2 0, Jones 0 0-0 0, Solomon 5 3-4 13, P. Tremblay 0 0-0 0, J. Carroll 9 1-2 20. Totals 20 6-14 49.

3-point goals — CIA 4 (R. Smithwick 2, J. Smithwick 1, T. Smithwick 1); Fort Yukon 3 (F. Carroll 1, J. Tremblay 1, J. Carroll 1). Fouled out — none.


Wolverines 65, Bulldogs JV 43

Ninilchik 8 9 27 21 —65

Nikiski 10 14 10 9 —43

NINILCHIK (65) — Koch 0 0-0 0, Appelhanz 1 2-2 5, Presley 8 7-14 23, Mireles 8 0-1 16, Geppert 1 1-2 4, Bartolowits 1 0-0 2, Fidow 1 0-0 2, Pasqua 0 0-0 0, McGinnis 0 0-0 0, White 6 1-3 13. Totals — 26 11-22 65.

NIKISKI (43) — Perry 3 0-6 6, Bridges 0 0-0 0, Litke 1 0-0 2, Braswell 0 0-0 0, Okamoto 1 0-0 2, Johnson 6 4-8 16, Dohse 1 0-0 2, Ellis 1 0-0 2, Sepeda 3 1-2 7, Carstens 3 0-2 6. Totals — 19 5-18 43.

3-point goals — Ninilchik 2 (Appelhanz, Geppert). Team fouls — Ninilchik 16, Nikiski 21. Fouled out — none.

More in Sports

Kenai Central goalie Evyn Witts makes a save on Soldotna's Ezekiel Miller as Kenai's Reagan Graves and Logan Mese defend Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai, Soldotna ready for state hockey tourney

Both the Kenai Central and Soldotna hockey teams will chase the first… Continue reading

Kenai Central senior Owen Whicker holds up Zach Armstrong's jersey as Zach's brother, Luke, runs out during pregame introductions. Zach was diagnosed with leukemia in November. The Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, game against Nikiski at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska, was a fundraiser for the Armstrong family. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Zach’s Fight Fundraiser’ packs gym as Nikiski, Kenai split

The community packed the Kenai Central gym Tuesday night for “Zach’s Fight… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Ryan Finch (20) celebrates his second-period goal Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears complete 2-game sweep of Windigo

The Kenai River Brown Bears completed a two-game sweep of the Wisconsin… Continue reading

Saturday hoops: ACS sweeps Al Howard Tournament

The Anchorage Christian Schools girls and boys both took first place at… Continue reading

Brown Bears snap 4-game skid

The Kenai River Brown Bears defeated the Wisconsin Windigo 3-2 on Friday… Continue reading

Friday hoops roundup: Soldotna, Seward sweep rivals

The Soldotna girls and boys basketball teams swept Kenai Central on Friday… Continue reading

SoHi-Kenai hockey game called off after player removed from ice on stretcher

The Railbelt Conference hockey game between Kenai Central and Soldotna on Friday… Continue reading

Kenai Central's Emily Moss rounds a corner at the Kenai Pursuit on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai’s Moss, Colony’s Rice lead Kenai Pursuit

Kenai Central’s Emily Moss and Colony’s Jayden Rice lead the Kenai Pursuit… Continue reading

Soldotna's Tanner Inman drives on Mila Hargrave of Juneau-Douglas on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at the Al Howard Tournament at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai, SoHi open with losses at Al Howard tourney

Anchorage Christian Schools swept Kenai Central and Juneau-Douglas swept Soldotna on Thursday… Continue reading

Most Read