Colony boys march into NLC final with win over SoHi

It’s become clear that there is no love lost between the Colony and Soldotna boys hoops teams, especially when the Knights have had the upper hand in recent meetings between the two schools.

Colony added another win to its record against the Stars Friday evening at Kenai Central High School, this time snatching up a state berth with a chippy 65-48 semifinal win at the Northern Lights Conference tournament. The victory sets up an all-Valley showdown in Saturday’s NLC championship game against Wasilla, winners over Palmer in Friday’s other semifinal. 

Soldotna was dropped into the tournament third-place game, set for noon Saturday against Palmer. The Stars ended 0-4 against the Knights this season.

Colony, meanwhile, will be making its fourth straight state appearance.

“It’s always good, always good,” said Colony coach Tom Berg. “Our program is always measured in being consistent every year. I want to go to the state tournament every single year, I want us to be one of the mainstays.”

The semifinal pitted two aggressive shooting teams against the other, and with every missed shot came a scrap under the net for the loose rebound. It resulted in a lot of contact, naturally, but at time featured a few extra shoves, although nothing major really materialized.

“I have no idea how it got started,” said Soldotna coach Mark Tuter. “We try and tone it down at times, because it does get chippy, but coach Berg is a really good friend of mine.”

Berg echoed Tuter’s remarks, saying the contest, a continuation of building competition between the two schools, was a display of two hard-working squads vying for supremacy.

“I think there are moments (Friday) when it got a little ugly, and that was stemming from last year,” Berg said. “But I love it when guys play hard, when they want to attack each other and compete hard against each other.”

In the end, Colony prevailed. Senior guard Tucker Looney attacked the rim time and again, scoring a game-high 23 points, including 12 in the third quarter. Fellow guards Anton Chamblee netted 14 points and Robert Sonnenberg added 11. Key starter Bailey West was held to eight points.

Senior Nate Spence led the SoHi offense with 14 points, while fellow senior Brooks Furlong chipped in 12 on the strength of three 3s.

After a start in which senior Drew Fowler nailed a triple barely 30 seconds in for a quick 3-0 SoHi lead, Colony immediately began utilizing a frantic press to force SoHi into mistakes and turnovers, which resulted in transition points. After Fowler’s opening bucket, Colony bolted to an 11-3 lead in the next three minutes.

SoHi cut the gap back down to 19-15 with 5:15 remaining in the second quarter, but another quick Colony spurt that was capped by Ethan Selmer getting a putback layup on his fourth try put the Knights up by ten. At halftime, Colony led 29-20.

Berg said he thought the third quarter was the pivotal turning point.

“We felt like we let them off the hook a little bit, they out rebounded us in the first half, let them hang around a bit,” Berg said. “We were not only able to take care of that but we scored some baskets right away, pushed it up to fifteen (points) or seventeen. That’s a hard one to turn around.”

With dynamic players like 6-foot-3 Joe Weltzin, Fowler and Spence under the net waiting for a rebound, Colony left no gaps for SoHi to find the ball.

“That’s their thing, is to shoot it up there, and if they don’t make it, they have athletic guys to put it back and tip it in,” Berg said. “We made a concerted effort to make sure they’re pushed out hard and not let them get any easy putbacks.”

In the third quarter, Looney came alive, scoring 12 of Colony’s 21 points — most on darting layups in open space — to give the Knight’s a 50-29 lead at the end of the frame.

In the fourth quarter, Sonnenberger scored six points in a 10-2 spurt to ice the game.

Later, Spence and Weltzin were both named to the All-Conference boys first team roster, while Furlong was named to the second team.

After the game, Soldotna coach Mark Tuter said with a chance at making the state tournament out the window, it will be hard to return for Saturday’s third-place matchup.

“At this moment, no,” Tuter said. “But tomorrow, it will. The kids will get excited and will want to get after it.”

Kodiak boys 50, Kenai 42

In a Friday morning consolation matchup, the Bears got the better of the Kards, outscoring Kenai 30-17 in the second half to erase a halftime deficit and take the win, which ended the season for both squads.

Jemuel Mangalus, who was named to the boys All-Conference 1st team, scored a game-high 21 points to lead Kodiak, and went 7-for-8 from the free throw line in the second half.

Kyle Foree led a balanced scoring effort by Kenai with 13 points, including nine in the first quarter. Nine players made the scoring column for Kenai. Austin McKee added eight points and Josh Jackman netted four and was later named to the All-Conference first team.

The Kards burst out of the gate with a 14-7 lead in the first quarter, then led 25-20 at halftime. 

However, Kodiak answered back by outscoring Kenai 16-9 in the third quarter to take a 36-34 lead. Mangalus sealed the win with accurate shooting from the charity stripe in the final eight minutes.

Wasilla 47, Palmer 30

Cameron Brown, an All-Conference first team member, scored 17 points to lead Wasilla into Saturday’s NLC championship game.

Brown’s teammate, Alex Baham, scored 13 points and was later named NLC tournament MVP.

Clayton Southwick, a budding 6-foot-5 freshman, led Palmer with seven points.

The Warriors led 20-13 at the half and extended it with a 15-6 run in the third quarter.


Boys All-Conference 1st team

Bailey West, Colony; Joe Weltzin, Soldotna; Clayton Southwick, Palmer; Jemuel Mangalus, Kodiak; Robert Sonnenberg, Colony; Graham Dinkel, Colony; Isaac Houck, Wasilla; Josh Jackman, Kenai; Nathan Spence, Soldotna.

2nd team

Cameron Brown, Wasilla; Tucker Looney, Colony; Anton Chamblee, Colony; James Black, Palmer; Koby Burns, Wasilla; Ryen Milleron, Wasilla; Tye Ramoth, Palmer; Brooks Furlong, Soldotna.

Boys MVP: Alex Baham, Wasilla.

Boys coach of the year: Tom Berg, Colony.


Friday boys

Knights 65, Stars 48

Colony 17 12 21 15 —65

Soldotna 9 11 9 19 —48

COLONY (65) — Selmer 3 2-2 8, Looney 10 3-5 23, West 2 3-4 8, Chamblee 6 0-0 14, Martin 0 0-0 0, Menard 0 0-0 0, Sessom 0 0-0 0, Martin 0 1-2 1, Nygard 0 0-0 0, Sonnenberg 3 5-5 11. Totals 24 14-18 65.

SOLDOTNA (48) — Kuntz 0 0-0 0, Weltzin 0 5-6 5, Furlong 4 1-1 12, Phillips 0 3-4 3, Casey 0 1-2 1, Spence 4 4-6 14, Duke 0 0-0 0, Gibbs 0 0-0 0, Fowler 3 0-0 8, Trammell 1 0-0 3. Totals 12 14-19 48.

3-point goals — Soldotna 8 (Furlong 3, Spence 2, Fowler 2, Trammell 1); Colony 3 (Chamblee 2, West 1). Fouled out — none.


Bears 50, Kardinals 42

Kodiak 7 13 16 14 —50

Kenai 14 11 9 8 —42

KODIAK (50) — Mangalus 6 7-9 21, Alcaide 3 0-0 7, Bezona 3 1-1 7, C. Caguing 0 0-0 0, B. Caguing 1 0-0 2, Osowski 1 0-1 2, Mutch 2 2-3 6, Fried 2 2-3 6, Koller 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 12-17 50.

KENAI (42) — Theisen 1 0-0 2, Ivy 1 1-3 3, McKee 3 0-0 8, Brazell 0 0-0 0, Tr. Landry 1 0-0 3, Ta. Landry 2 0-0 4, Jackman 2 0-0 4, Vest 1 0-0 2, Fitt 0 0-2 0, Foree 6 0-0 13, Dye 0 0-0 0, Wortham 1 0-0 3. Totals 18 1-5 42.

3-point goals — Kenai 5 (McKee 2, Tr. Landry 1, Foree 1, Wortham 1); Kodiak 4 (Mangalus 2, Alcaide 1, Fried 1). Fouled out — Foree.


Warriors 47, Moose 30

Wasilla 8 12 15 12 —47

Palmer 7 6 6 11 —30

WASILLA (47) — Burns 0 1-2 1, Brown 5 5-6 17, Millron 1 1-1 3, Trotta 0 0-0 0, Baham 3 6-8 13, Garnett 3 0-2 6, Loyer 0 0-0 0, Houck 3 1-2 7. Totals 15 14-21 47.

PALMER (30) — Ramoth 2 1-3 6, Ferris 2 1-1 6, Southwick 3 1-2 7, Blake 2 1-3 6, Snickers 2 0-3 5, Yanez 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 4-12 30.

3-point goals — Wasilla 1 (Baham); Palmer 4 (Ramoth 1, Ferris 1, Blake 1, Snickers 1). Fouled out — Blake.

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