Nikiski’s Michael Eiter (left) dribbles against Anchorage’s Frederick Onochie Friday in a Southcentral Conference contest at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Michael Eiter (left) dribbles against Anchorage’s Frederick Onochie Friday in a Southcentral Conference contest at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski hoops loses to ACS, splits with Grace

Points piled up on the Nikiski High School gym scoreboard Friday night at a pace rarely seen, and when the dust settled, the Anchorage Christian Schools basketball teams were walking away with victories in hand.

The ACS boys capped the night with a 98-44 Southcentral Conference victory over Nikiski, following up a dominant 86-56 win by the ACS girls over Nikiski.

The girls matchup featured two of the top girls teams in the conference going head to head, but the Lions pulled out an early lead and comfortably led before sealing it with a big second half splurge to add to the Lions’ superlative 17-0 season (19-0 including forfeited games by opponents).

Nikiski suffered only its third loss of the season, sitting at 19-3 overall and 8-1 in conference after a 77-56 home victory over Grace on Saturday. Bethany Carstens had 36 points on eight 3-pointers, while Emma Wik and Kelsey Clark each had 11 points. For Grace, Tessa Binder had 30 and Grace Salima had 12.

At the end of Friday night, Bulldogs head coach Rustin Hitchcock felt like the team held up well and soaked up some valuable knowledge for the conference tournament.

“That was not a 30-point game at all,” he said. “We shredded their press.”

Nikiski senior Bethany Carstens poured in 23 points on 9-for-9 shooting from the foul line to lead the Bulldogs, and Wik chipped in 12.

Jordan Todd led the charge with 21 points for ACS, while teammate Mykaila Pickard dropped in 19 and Mary Kate Parks notched 17.

ACS head coach Chad Dyson said the team has built an identity on defense this year, and the defensive press helped fuel the offense.

“The game plan for us is defense, and I thought we executed well defensively,” Dyson said. “Could’ve done a better job rotating a couple times, but that’s something we’ll work on and get better for next time.”

And as far as playing the reigning Class 3A Player of the Year in Carstens, Dyson said no particular attention was paid to Nikiski’s star player.

“We usually put a defender on her,” Dyson said. “But we just treat her like anyone else.”

Hitchcock said he was pleased with his team’s effort and execution, noting that they just ran into a buzzsaw of a Class 3A girls program.

“At no point did I feel like we stopped competing,” Hitchcock said. “They just happened to have more runs and a better shooting night than we did.

“They’re probably the No. 1 team in the state.”

The Lions jumped out to a 17-6 lead on Nikiski, but the Bulldogs stuck around in the second quarter with tough defense keeping ACS honest. Nikiski’s defensive press was able to answer the ferocity of the Lions, and once the Bulldogs began getting turnovers, the offense began to click as well.

Carstens drained a triple with 4:23 left in the first half to cut the ACS lead to 29-20, then scored on consecutive drives in transition to cut the lead to 31-24.

However, ACS finished the first half on a 9-3 spurt, starting with a trey by Parks with 2:13 to go. A layup nearly at the buzzer by Reimers put ACS ahead 40-27 at halftime.

The momentum continued for the Lions in the third quarter with a 16-3 run to begin the second half. Pickard connected on three 3s during that span to key the spurt, which all but iced the game for ACS. The Lions led 61-37 entering the fourth quarter.

The boys game was highlighted by Lions senior Orlando Lozano, who torched the Bulldogs with 36 points, including 10 3-pointers.

“He shot well, but he’s a good shooter,” said ACS head coach Zack Madren. “Sometimes he can really fill it up, and tonight he was doing that.”

ACS improved to 6-0 in conference and 17-2 overall, while Nikiski dropped to 4-5 and 6-14 overall after a 52-39 loss to Grace Christian on Saturday.

After a three-game conference win streak earlier in the season, the Bulldogs are on a skid with five straight losses to SCC opponents.

Saturday, Turner Goforth had 17 points for Grace, while Nathan Ivanoff had 12 and Andrew Beck had 10. For Nikiski, Jace Kornstad had 15 and Cody Handley had 11.

Nikiski head coach Reid Kornstad said he worked with his team to get back in transition to contain ACS, but when the opposition is hitting everything they put up, it became a long night.

“They’ve been working at 6 a.m. every morning shooting those 3s,” Kornstad said. “It’s no surprise. They’re highly committed to becoming good shooters, and that’s what we saw.”

Overall, ACS hit 14 total shots from beyond the arc.

Lozano put on a show in the second quarter, sinking six 3s to score 22 of his team’s 36 points in the quarter. Lozano routinely connected on 3s in transition, either pulling up for a shot or receiving an assist from a teammate driving to the rim to catch Nikiski’s defense off guard.

“That’s how we play,” Madren said. “Some nights it’s better than others.”

The Nikiski side of the court was led by senior Handley, who notched 12 points while teammates Jace Kornstad and Michael Eiter notched 11 each.

Six-foot-4 senior Fredrick Onochie, one of the Lions’ most dangerous weapons, was held to just six points.

ACS notched a 16-5 run to end the first quarter, then really took off in the second. Lozano hit his first trey with 7:04 left in the frame, then connected on five 3’s in the final four minutes of the half to reach the break with 25 points.

ACS led 64-23 at halftime, then 90-36 after three quarters. A running clock in the fourth quarter prevented the Lions from reaching 100 points.

Friday girls

Lions 86, Bulldogs 56

ACS 22 18 21 19 —86

Nikiski 8 19 10 19 —56

ACS (86) — Parks 17, Davis 7, Reimers 12, Tiulana 0, Powell 0, Pickard 19, Sorrells 4, Yisrael 6, Todd 21.

NIKISKI (56) — Jeffreys 7, Wik 12, L. Carstens 7, Johnson 2, B. Carstens 23, Epperheimer 2, Clark 0, Druesedow 3, Hooper 0, Zimmerman 0.

3-point FG — ACS 8 (Pickard 3, Davis 2, Yisrael 2, Parks 1); Nikiski 6 (B. Carstens 2, Jeffreys 1, Wik 1, L. Carstens 1, Druesedow 1).

Team fouls — ACS 19; Nikiski 20. Fouled out — Reimers.

Friday boys

Lions 98, Bulldogs 44

ACS 28 36 26 8 —98

Nikiski 11 12 13 8 —44

ACS (98) — Parks 10, Onochie 6, Davis 10, Cho 5, Hayner 4, Guzman 17, Sanders 2, Hall-Scriven 8, Lozano 36, Thomas 0.

NIKISKI (44) — Mysing 4, Weathers 2, Smith 0, Kornstads 11, Handley 12, Payne 0, DeSiena 0, Gray 0, Malston 0, Eiter 11, McCaughey 4.

3-point FG — ACS 14 (Lozano 10, Davis 2, Parks 2); Nikiski 4 (Handley 2, Eiter 1, Kornstad 1).

Team fouls — ACS 13; Nikiski 6. Fouled out — none.

Saturday boys

Grizzlies 52, Bulldogs 39

Grace 12 19 11 10 — 52

Nikiski 5 7 12 15 — 39

GRACE CHRISTIAN (52) — Trevithick 0, Ivanoff 12, Kopp 3, Goforth 17, McGovern 2, Coulombe 2, Harriman 6, Isaacson 0, Beck 10. Totals — 21 4-5 52.

NIKISKI (39) — Mysing 6, Weathers 0, Smith 0, Kornstad 15, White 0, Handley 11, Litke 0, Payne 0, DeSiena 0, Eiter 7, Malston 0. Totals — 14 6-7 39.

3-point goals — Grace 6 (Goforth 5, Kopp); Nikiski 5 (Kornstad 3, Handley, Eiter). Team fouls — Grace 14, Nikiski 6. Fouled out — none.

Saturday girls

Bulldogs 77, Grizzlies 56

Grace 9 15 18 14 — 56

Nikiski 23 13 31 10 — 77

GRACE CHRISTIAN (56) — Coronado 3, Binder 30, Markel 3, Wood 6, Tanner 2, Salima 12, Snow 0, Crotts 0, Annett 0, Turner 0. Totals — 19 12-16 56.

NIKISKI (77) — Jeffreys 2, Wik 11, L. Carstens 7, Johnson 2, B. Carstens 36, B. Epperheimer 0, Clark 11, Druesedow 6, Hooper 0, Reichert 0, Zimmerman 2. Totals — 26 10-13 77.

3-point goals — Grace 6 (Binder 4, Salima 2); Nikiski 15 (B. Carstens 8, Wik 3, Druesedow 2, L. Carstens, Clark). Team fouls — Grace 12, Nikiski 15. Fouled out — none.

Nikiski’s Michael Mysing rolls to the rim Friday in a Southcentral Conference contest against ACS at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Michael Mysing rolls to the rim Friday in a Southcentral Conference contest against ACS at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Kelsey Clark (center) becomes trapped in the paint by Anchorage’s Adara Powell (left) and Destiny Reimers Friday in a Southcentral Conference contest at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Kelsey Clark (center) becomes trapped in the paint by Anchorage’s Adara Powell (left) and Destiny Reimers Friday in a Southcentral Conference contest at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Kaitlyn Johnson (14) works for space against Anchorage’s Jessie Davis Friday in a Southcentral Conference contest at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Kaitlyn Johnson (14) works for space against Anchorage’s Jessie Davis Friday in a Southcentral Conference contest at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Bethany Carstens (left) drives against Anchorage’s Mary Kate Parks Friday in a Southcentral Conference contest at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Bethany Carstens (left) drives against Anchorage’s Mary Kate Parks Friday in a Southcentral Conference contest at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

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