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.

More in Sports

Kenai Central’s Kylee Verkuilen races Nikiski for control of the ball during a soccer game at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, April 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai sweeps, shuts out Nikiski in Friday soccer games

Kenai girls and boys teams opened with early goals

Head coach Taylor Shaw (center) talks to the Kenai River Brown Bears during a timeout at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, March 23, 2024. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Season review: Brown Bears hope to build on solid finish to season

It’s not easy to finish a season in last place in a division, yet have plenty of reasons for optimism for the next season

Homer snow shuffles sports schedule

The Mariners were supposed to host Kenai Central in Thursday

A pair of Trumpeter Swans break through the thin ice in search of emergent vegetation at the Kenai River Flats with Mt. Redoubt in the background. (Photo courtesy T. Eskelin/USFWS)
Refuge Notebook: Has spring sprung?

I have always found the arrival of spring to be championed by the first sightings of geese at the Kenai and Kasilof Flats

Peninsula Piranhas win South Central Area Championships

The Peninsula Piranhas won the South Central Area Championships in Homer on… Continue reading

Lily Langham of Kenai Central High School and Brooklyn Larsen, Rylie Thompson and Ava Fabian of Soldotna High School, stand for a photo with their medals after competing in the USA Hockey National Championships as part of the Alaska All Stars 19U Division 2A hockey team. (photo provided)
Local skaters help Alaska All Stars to semis of national tourney

Four central Kenai Peninsula skaters were on the Alaska All Stars 19U… Continue reading

SoHi girls win distance medley relay at Big C Relays

A number of Kenai Peninsula athletes nabbed top-eight finishes at the Russ… Continue reading

Saturday: Brown Bears finish season with comeback victory in Fairbanks

The Kenai River Brown Bears finished their season with a 4-3 victory… Continue reading

Friday: Ice Dogs hold off Brown Bears

The Kenai River Brown Bears dropped a 2-1 decision to the Fairbanks… Continue reading

Blackwater Railroad Company and Silas Jones (front left) play at the 30th annual Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament on Saturday, March 23, 2024 at the Deep Water Dock on the Spit in Homer, Alaska. (Delcenia Cosman/Homer News)
Out of the Office: Good gathering, good vibes

It’s been a while since I’ve attended a good-old-fashioned social event —… Continue reading

Hunter Beck, Dan Beck, Emma Beck and Tracie Beck sit at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 3, 2024, as Emma signs a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Hunter is Emma's brother, Dan is Emma's father and Tracie is Emma's mother and the head volleyball coach. (Photo provided)
Beck signs to play with UAA volleyball

Kenai Central senior Emma Beck signed a National Letter of Intent to… Continue reading

Jim Beeson coaches Kenai Central football on August 11, 1999. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Beeson, Romans part of Alaska High School Hall of Fame 2024 class

Legendary Kenai Peninsula coaches Jim Beeson and Ward Romans were named to… Continue reading