Nikiski’s Ian Johnson drives to the rim against Seward defender Nik Pahno in a Friday night matchup at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Ian Johnson drives to the rim against Seward defender Nik Pahno in a Friday night matchup at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Friday hoops: Carstens pours in 38 to lead Nikiski over Seward

In a season full of big games, Nikiski sophomore Bethany Carstens took her game to a new level Friday night at Nikiski High School.

The lethal basketball guard exploded for 38 points against the Seward girls in a Southcentral Conference meeting to power the Bulldogs to a 68-30 victory.

Following a freshman campaign that she missed completely due to a preseason injury, Carstens has returned for her first season with the squad to lead the Bulldogs to a 10-1 year thus far. It was Nikiski’s seventh straight win, and it jumped them to 4-0 in the conference, while Seward dropped to 1-2 in the conference.

“All (coach Scott Anderson) says is go out there and play like you know to play,” Carstens said about the success the team has experienced thus far. “In practices, we scrimmage a lot but we don’t really focus a lot on working (a defensive press).”

In her 38-point night, Carstens amassed 36 in the first three quarters alone, before she was benched in the fourth after one more field goal. She also had five rebounds and six steals to go along with her offensive effort.

“With Bethany you always know you’re going to get 100 percent effort,” Anderson said. “It’s almost to be expected.”

In addition to Carstens, teammates Emma Wik, Brianna Vollertsen and Avery Kornstad each scored six points for Nikiski. Seward was paced by Coral Petrosius with 10 points.

Carstens was also part of the Nikiski volleyball team that made it to the state final in November. The experience left her, along with most of the basketball team members that transitioned from the volleyball season, with a hunger to win. And win is what the Nikiski girls hoops contingent has been doing.

“I think we got a little bit of how it felt to win at state, now we want that for the basketball team,” she said. “We want to go out and do it again.”

Keeping in tradition with how they have been rolling so far, the Bulldogs employed a half-court defensive press during the game that suffocated the Seahawks at times. Overall, Seward committed 36 turnovers in its first meeting of the year with Nikiski, something that head coach Curtis Berry said the team has to learn to deal with.

“They are what we expected,” Berry said about the opposition. “They’re winning games, and they have a great player in Carstens.”

Seward stayed with Nikiski in the first quarter, grabbing an 11-6 lead in the late stages of the first quarter, getting several buckets from down low by Petrosius, who had eight points in the first quarter alone.

But as quickly as the Seahawks took a lead, Nikiski scrambled with five straight points from Carstens, who began the rally back with a steal and layup in transition. A 3-pointer by Kornstad shot Nikiski into a 14-11 lead.

The Bulldogs then built up the lead with a multitude of steals that turned into points on the offense. With 4:28 to play in the second quarter, Nikiski was up 26-13, and the lead was 38-18 at half.

During one 3:34 span in the third quarter, Carstens outscored Seward 16-3 by herself, leading to a running clock in the fourth quarter.

Seward boys 52, Nikiski 44

The Seward boys avenged a loss in the 2016 Southcentral Conference third-place game to Nikiski and held off the Bulldogs late to pick up a Southcentral Conference win Friday night in Nikiski.

Seward improved to 2-2 in the conference this year with the win, while Nikiski dropped to 0-2.

Ask Seward coach Al Plan if the victory felt better over a perennially tough conference opponent, and he will say any win is welcome.

“They’re all high-quality wins, so we’ll take it,” Plan said. “Nikiski’s always physically tough and athletic, I think we’ve both lost six seniors from last year, so for the most part there’s a lot of new faces.”

Among the new faces was Jonah Deboard, who led Seward with 12 points, while Sully Hauze had 10. Ian Johnson netted a game-high 22 points for Nikiski while Cody Handley chipped in 15. In a rare showing, one of Nikiski’s top scorers Jace Kornstad was shut out.

Plan said Friday was just the fourth game all year that Seward has played all members of the team. The Seahawks have been dealt a few injuries and other ineligibility issues throughout the season.

Leading 27-23 at halftime, Seward enjoyed a stout third quarter, distancing itself by 11 points following a 3-point shot from the top of the arc by Hunter Kratz with 2:26 to go in the frame. Bench players Connor Spanos and Zen Petrosius also contributed crucial buckets in the quarter to help Seward keep its lead.

“Our bench guys gave us a spark, and the defensive presence kept us going,” Plan said.

The Bulldogs climbed to within six points of the Seahawks with 4:35 to go on a floater by Johnson, which stood until 2:26 to play, when Hauze drove to the hoop to score.

On the ensuing two possessions by Nikiski, the home team wasted their chances with a pair of turnovers.

Nikiski head coach Reid Kornstad said he felt positive, even after the loss, as the Bulldogs showed improvements in key areas.

“I thought we took a step,” he said. “In those last few possessions, we executed what we wanted, we just couldn’t complete the play and it ended in a turnover.”

Friday girls

Bulldogs 68, Seahawks 30

Seward 13 5 7 5 — 30

Nikiski 14 24 22 8 — 68

SEWARD (30) — Cinereski 0 0-0 0, Hauze 0 0-0 0, Terry 0 1-2 1, VonBorstel 2 3-5 8, Jackson 2 1-2 6, Lapinskas 2 0-1 4, Sullivan 0 1-2 1, Moore 0 0-0 0, Petrosius 5 0-2 10. Totals 11 6-14 30.

NIKISKI (68) — Jeffreys 0 0-0 0, Wik 2 1-2 6, Pitt 0 0-0 0, Vollertsen 3 0-0 6, Johnson 1 0-0 2, Carstens 13 9-13 38, Kornstad 2 0-0 6, Clark 1 0-0 2, Jackson 2 0-0 4, Porter 0 0-0 0, Bostic 0 0-0 0, Druesedow 2 0-0 4. Totals 26 10-15 68.

3-point goals — Seward 2 (VonBorstel 1, Jackson 1); Nikiski 6 (Carstens 3, Kornstad 2, Wik 1).

Team fouls — Seward 10; Nikiski 12. Fouled out — none.

Friday boys

Seahawks 52, Bulldogs 44

Seward 11 15 19 6 — 52

Nikiski 12 11 14 7 — 44

SEWARD (52) — Pahno 3 1-2 8, Kratz 2 1-2 5, Hauze 4 0-0 10, Estes 2 0-0 4, Spanos 1 1-2 3, Sieverts 1 0-0 2, Deboard 6 0-1 12, Petrosius 3 2-3 8. Totals 22 5-10 52.

NIKISKI (44) — Johnson 8 6-12 22, Weathers 0 0-0 0, G. Ellis 1 0-0 3, Kornstad 0 0-0 0, Litke 0 1-2 1, B. Ellis 1 1-2 3, Handley 6 0-1 15. Totals 16 8-17 44.

3-point goals — Seward 3 (Hauze 2, Pahno 1); Nikiski 4 (Handley 3, G. Ellis 1).

Team fouls — Seward 16; Nikiski 11. Fouled out — Hauze.

Nik Pahno of Seward lays up a shot against the glass Friday night at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Nik Pahno of Seward lays up a shot against the glass Friday night at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Ayla Lapanskas dribbles by Nikiski’s Ayla Pitt in a Friday night game at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Ayla Lapanskas dribbles by Nikiski’s Ayla Pitt in a Friday night game at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Emma Wik works to find a way around Rose Terry of Seward in a Southcentral Conference meeting Friday night at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Emma Wik works to find a way around Rose Terry of Seward in a Southcentral Conference meeting Friday night at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

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