Seward High School junior Laura Kromrey scores against Bethel during their 3A girls consolation bracket game in the ASAA state basketball tournament at Anchorage's Sullivan Arena on Friday. Seward won 37-33. Seahawks teammate Maria Jackson (22) moves into the play.

Seward High School junior Laura Kromrey scores against Bethel during their 3A girls consolation bracket game in the ASAA state basketball tournament at Anchorage's Sullivan Arena on Friday. Seward won 37-33. Seahawks teammate Maria Jackson (22) moves into the play.

Friday Class 3A: Seward girls win; Nikiski girls lose

For the first time in three years, the Seward girls made it to the final day of the Class 3A state basketball tournament.

After a loss to Anchorage Christian Schools on Thursday, Seward had to win or be sent home, and the Seahawks came up with a 37-33 victory over Bethel on Friday at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage to advance into the fourth-place game, set for 9 a.m. Saturday against Valdez, which topped Nikiski 54-45 in the other consolation semifinal.

For each of the past two seasons, the Seahawks have qualified for the state tournament, only to drop out by Friday with two straight losses.

This year was different.

“It was very important, just to break that,” said Seward coach Mark Clemens. “The team got down for a little bit, we got tired there, but we got that back in the game.”

The win comes a day after the Seahawks held powerhouse squad ACS to a single-digit lead until the early portion of the fourth quarter. ACS finished strong to beat Seward 48-32.

“That was a hard-fought game, so it wore us out a little bit,” Clemens said. “It took a little strength and endurance out of us, but Bethel’s always a tough team.”

Senior Ashley VonBorstel led Seward with 18 points and five rebounds. Clemens’ daughter, Kiana, had nine points, including two free throws with 15 seconds to go that pushed the Seahawks to a three-point lead and a great chance of winning.

“It’s just like yesterday’s game, it was playing our tempo and great defense,” the junior guard said. “We used our two-three zone, and making sure we stopped drives and stopped shooters.

“I think the fact that we held them to a low score, and being the only team other than Kodiak all season to do that, mentally we were like, we can do this.”

Whether motivated or not by the possibility a second loss, Seward started strong, getting layups from VonBorstel, Clemens and Laura Kromrey to stake out a 13-7 lead midway through the second quarter.

One of Bethel’s tendencies, however, is to strike from the perimeter, and the Warriors hammered Seward from 3-point land, taking 20 total attempts in the game. Seward had only six attempts, but both teams converted on three of them.

Kayla Williams had 11 shots from beyond the arc, putting Seward’s focus on the outside rim.

“They were working hard on their offense and we quit working a bit,” coach Clemens said. “We got tired, it came down to legs and brains, and we weren’t using both for a while there.”

Trailing 18-13 at halftime, Seward slowly began fighting back in the third quarter, and with 55 seconds remaining in the frame, VonBorstel found space in the corner and heaved a trey into the net to tie the game at 25 apiece.

“I don’t think we were nervous, I think we were more confident,” Kiana said. “We knew we just had to execute our game plan and I think we did it pretty well.”

With 4:06 left in the fourth quarter, Clemens hit the go-ahead jump shot to give Seward a one-point margin. A layup from Kromrey with 3:15 left put Seward ahead 34-31, which held until Bethel’s Riana Joseph grabbed a steal and took it in for a layup with 1:06 left.

Joseph didn’t get the bucket, but she was fouled and converted on the subsequent free throws to close the Warriors’ gap to one point.

From there, Seward tried to run the clock out by holding the ball, and Bethel was forced to foul the Seahawks.

That’s when Clemens and VonBorstel iced the game from the line.

“Yesterday, we were 9 for 23 from the free-throw line,” Clemens said. “Even if we would’ve been 15 for 23 from the line, it would’ve been a different game, with the momentum swing, so today was different.”

Valdez girls 54, Nikiski 45

The Nikiski girls team, playing in the Class 3A state tournament for the first time since 2009, suffered a two-and-out performance with a loss to the Buccaneers on Friday morning at the Sullivan Arena.

Falling behind early made life difficult for the Bulldogs, and Nikiski coach Scott Anderson said while his team made an effort to score early and often, Valdez managed to find the net better than the Bulldogs did.

“It’s always tough to come back after you lose a fairly close game the night before, and that dream of playing for a state title is gone,” Anderson said. “I thought our girls came out pretty ready to go today, but Valdez came out way better than they did yesterday.”

The Buccaneers sank 13 field goals in the first half for a shooting percentage of nearly 50 percent, while Nikiski had trouble with only six buckets for a 26 percent performance.

“I really felt like that was the big difference in this game,” Anderson said.

Senior Alyssa Darch had 15 points and collected 17 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs, coming up with 10 of Nikiski’s 12 points in the third quarter, and teammates Jodi Cook and Emily Lynch added 10 points each.

“As a senior, I thought Alyssa just decided that she’s going to get it done today,” Anderson said. “I was really proud of her, she just battled all game. She had a great tournament overall.”

Valdez, a team that lost to defending 3A champs Barrow on Thursday, flaunted an aggressive defensive press that had stumped Nikiski for much of the contest. It also helped Veronica Hursh pile up 21 points for herself.

“I mean, really, that’s what it was,” said Valdez coach Doug Fleming. “It’s what we didn’t do yesterday, we played flat yesterday. Today they wanted it, they didn’t want it to be over so they played harder.”

Trailing 27-14 at halftime, the Bulldogs cut into the lead when Darch converted two free throws, then grabbed a steal and a layup on the ensuing Valdez possession that left Nikiski with a 10-point deficit.

The problem was, every time Nikiski scored, Valdez countered with points of its own. With 4:26 left in the game, junior Rachel Thompson stole the ball and ran the length of the floor for a layup, cutting the gap to seven points.

In the final 1:22 of the contest, Valdez hit 5 of 8 free throws to keep Nikiski a comfortable distance away.

“They knew what it was going to take right to the very end to catch them,” Anderson said. “You know, we closed the gap and we just missed a few key shots at some key times, we turned the ball over when we had the opportunity to close the gap. It just didn’t happen.”

Anderson said he believes Nikiski’s overall goal of getting to state cushioned the sting of losing both games, but also plans on being back next year.

“Sometimes when teams get to state, they forget that the competition level is going to go up,” he said. “So I feel like we had a little bit of the deer-in-the-headlights look, especially yesterday.”

Friday girls

Seahawks 37, Warriors 33

Seward 6 7 12 12 —37

Bethel 5 13 9 6 —33

SEWARD (37) — VonBorstel 6 4-5 18, Anderson 0 0-0 0, Kromrey 3 1-2 7, Jackson 1 0-2 2, Whiteshield 0 1-4 1, Clemens 3 2-2 9. Totals 13 8-15 37.

BETHEL (33) — Oscar 0 0-0 0, Brink 1 0-0 2, Thomas 2 2-2 7, O’Brien 1 0-0 2, Williams 3 0-0 8, Joseph 3 6-8 12, Crow 1 0-0 2, Kinegak 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 8-10 33.

3-point field goals — Seward 3 (VonBorstel 2, Clemens 1); Bethel 3 (Williams 2, Thomas 1).

Team fouls — Seward 12; Bethel 13.

Buccaneers 54, Bulldogs 45

Valdez 13 14 12 15 —54

Nikiski 6 8 12 19 —45

VALDEZ (54) — Hursh 0 0-0 0, MacDonald 3 0-0 7, Merioles 3 1-4 7, Hursh 7 6-11 21, Rohrer 2 0-0 4, Fleming 2 2-3 6, Wamsley 3 3-4 9. Totals 20 12-22 54.

NIKISKI (45) — Riddall 0 0-0 0, Cook 5 0-0 10, Costello 0 1-2 1, Pitt 0 0-0 0, Litke 0 1-2 1, Lynch 4 2-4 10, Thompson 3 1-3 8, Parrish 0 0-0 0, Litzen 0 0-0 0, Darch 5 5-6 15. Totals 17 10-17 45.

3-point field goals — Valdez 2 (Hursh 1, MacDonald 1); Nikiski 1 (Thompson 1).

Team fouls — Valdez 17; Nikiski 22. Fouled out — Cook, Costello, Wamsley.

Nikiski senior Emily Lynch (22) scores over Valdez sophomores Mesa Rohrer and Madison Fleming and senior Rachel MacDonald (14) during their 3A girls consolation bracket game in the ASAA state high school basketball tournament at Anchorage's Sullivan Arena on Friday.

Nikiski senior Emily Lynch (22) scores over Valdez sophomores Mesa Rohrer and Madison Fleming and senior Rachel MacDonald (14) during their 3A girls consolation bracket game in the ASAA state high school basketball tournament at Anchorage’s Sullivan Arena on Friday.

Nikiski sophomore Alison Litke (20) is defended by Valdez sophomores Madison Fleming, junior Veronica Hursh Rachel and a Buccaneers cheerleader during their 3A girls consolation bracket game in the ASAA state high school basketball tournament at Anchorage's Sullivan Arena on Friday.

Nikiski sophomore Alison Litke (20) is defended by Valdez sophomores Madison Fleming, junior Veronica Hursh Rachel and a Buccaneers cheerleader during their 3A girls consolation bracket game in the ASAA state high school basketball tournament at Anchorage’s Sullivan Arena on Friday.

Nikiski sophomore Alison Litke (20) is defended by Valdez sophomores Madison Fleming, junior Veronica Hursh Rachel and a Buccaneers cheerleader during their 3A girls consolation bracket game in the ASAA state high school basketball tournament at Anchorage's Sullivan Arena on Friday.

Nikiski sophomore Alison Litke (20) is defended by Valdez sophomores Madison Fleming, junior Veronica Hursh Rachel and a Buccaneers cheerleader during their 3A girls consolation bracket game in the ASAA state high school basketball tournament at Anchorage’s Sullivan Arena on Friday.

More in Sports

tease
Local athletes sweep North Pole Triathlon

The central Kenai Peninsula swept the top spots at the North Pole… Continue reading

Post 20 Twins relief pitcher Atticus Gibson delivers to the Buffalo (Minnesota) Post 270 Cobras on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, during the Bill Miller/Lance Coz Wood Bat Invitational at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Twins, River Bandits go 2-0 at wood bat tourney

The American Legion Post 20 Twins and the Napoleon (Ohio) Post 300… Continue reading

tease
Strabel, Smith capture Kenai 250 endurance mountain biking event

The Kenai Peninsula put two riders in the top five of the… Continue reading

Christian Seager shows his 2022 Homer Spit Run, with the line "in memory of Gary Williams." Williams, a former Homer Mayor and a former owner of the Homer News, helped start the Spit Run. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Markelz wins Spit Run 10k

2022 Spit Run honors former Homer mayor, avid runner

Allie Ostrander, third from left, competes in the women’s 3000-meter steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials on Thursday, June 24, 2021, in Eugene, Oregon. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Ostrander finishes 16th at nationals

Allie Ostrander, a 2015 graduate of Kenai Central now living in Seattle,… Continue reading

tease
Central peninsula teams wins Kenai Invite fastpitch tourney

The AK Riptide, a team of players from Soldotna and Kenai, won… Continue reading

Oilers catcher Jerry Nix tags out Ali Camarillo of the Anchorage Glacier Pilots on Sunday, June 26, 2022, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Pilots finish 4-1 series against Oilers

The little things have added up to big things for the Anchorage… Continue reading

Nick Varney
Reeling ‘Em In: Kings acting ‘a bit schizoid’

It’s hard to tell what’s worse: thieving seals or *%$@#0# snaggers

Oilers' Noah Hennings (24) celebrates his home run against the Anchorage Glacier Pilots with Dalton Bowling on Friday, June 24, 2022, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Pilots move to 6-0 against Oilers

The Anchorage Glacier Pilots defeated the Peninsula Oilers 8-2 on Friday in… Continue reading

Most Read