Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Kenai Central senior Alexis Baker (22) looks for a shot against Kodiak forward Sydney Mutch, Saturday at Kenai Central High School. The Kardinals won 43-23.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Kenai Central senior Alexis Baker (22) looks for a shot against Kodiak forward Sydney Mutch, Saturday at Kenai Central High School. The Kardinals won 43-23.

Kenai girls basketball sweeps Kodiak

The Kenai Central girls basketball squad pulled off the weekend sweep against Kodiak with a 56-28 win Friday and a 43-23 win Saturday in Northern Lights Conference play.

The bigger news is that Kenai picked up its third NLC victory of the season, a feat that Kenai has not pulled off since the 2011-12 season, when the Kardinals went 5-5 in conference play.

Since then, the most number of NLC wins by a Kenai girls squad in one season was two, tallied by last year’s squad. Prior to that, the Kards had recorded two winless years in succession at the NLC level.

The accomplishment was not lost on Kenai’s current players.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said junior guard Lara Creighton. “It’s definitely a confidence booster.”

The win lifted Kenai to 4-11 overall.

Creighton and senior teammate Hannah Drury led Kenai to the win with 12 points apiece. The duo combined for 13 points in the fourth quarter to help the Kards pull away. Creighton also brought down seven rebounds, while Drury notched five. Abby Beck led Kenai on the glass with eight boards.

Kenai coach Cary Calvert’s first thought out of the locker room, however, wasn’t about the weekend sweep. Calvert was colored impressed by the way Kodiak handled both losses. As a team that is only two years removed from winning the Class 4A state crown, the Bears have undergone massive roster changes and now sit 2-8 overall (0-2 in NLC) this season.

“I’ve never met a team with more grace,” Calvert said. “They’re a tough team. I’m impressed with who they are.”

Rica Gongora led Kodiak with six points.

Kodiak coach Krista Hicks left no doubt on what Kodiak has struggled with the most this season, pointing to the team’s size as a major culprit. The three tallest girls are listed at 5-foot-8 on the roster, but four of the remaining five stand at 5-foot-2.

“We look like midgets out there,” Hicks said. “We’re so small it’s hard to control games.”

On the court, Calvert said Kenai’s defense won the day. Led by Alli Steinbeck and Alexis Baker, the Kards stifled the Bears, holding them to five points in the second and third quarters combined.

“Our team works because of Alli and Alexis’ defensive presence,” Calvert said. “Alli just has this work ethic that is unmatched.”

Kenai caught fire right out of the gate with a 9-0 run, which was pushed to 14-6 near the end of the first quarter. By the time the first half had ticked down to its final minute, Kenai had opened up a 10-point lead, thanks to a strong post presence. Kenai led 19-10 at the half.

Tough rebounding and a stingy man-to-man defense locked up Kodiak’s offense in the third quarter. The two teams scored 14 points combined in the second and third quarters, but combined for 52 in the first and fourth quarters.

Following the defensive lockdown that was the third quarter, Kenai finally began to break out with scoring. Baker hit a baseline layup with 5:52 to play in the game and Beck zipped a laser shot to Creighton in the key for a layup on the next possession to push Kenai’s lead to 32-13.

Creighton said once the Kards were able to figure out how to beat Kodiak’s speed, the late scoring came naturally.

“I think we just realized that we should be playing better,” Creighton said. “We lit a fire under our butts and got to the basket.”

Drury got in on the action with a nifty jumper with 4:55 remaining and Creighton scored again on a layup that barely rimmed in on the next possession, resulting in a 20-point lead for the home team.

A 3-pointer by Kelsey Booth with 3:07 remaining all but sealed the win.

The Kenai girls will not be back in action until the Dimond Lady Lynx tournament the first week of February.

Kenai girls 56, Kodiak 28

The Kenai girls doubled up on the Kodiak Bears to pick up their second Northern Lights Conference victory of the season Friday in Kenai.

Senior guard Hannah Drury sank five 3-pointers to lead Kenai with 23 points, and Abby Beck chipped in 12. Nelly Hernandez led Kodiak with 16 points.

Leading 30-10 at halftime, Kenai pushed the lead to 44-20 with the help of a pair of 3s from Drury. From there, the Kards iced the game with defense, holding Kodiak to just eight points in the final quarter.



Kardinals 56, Bears 28

Kodiak 5 5 10 8 —28

Kenai 14 16 14 12 —56

KODIAK (28) — Barcelon 0 0-0 0, Hernandez 6 1-4 16, Villaraya 0 0-0 0, Macatuna 0 2-2 2, Gorgora 2 2-2 7, Chia 0 0-1 0, Mutch 0 0-0 0, Matautia 1 0-1 3, Carstens 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 5-10 28.

KENAI (56) — Calvert 0 0-0 0, Holmes 2 1-3 5, Drury 8 2-5 23, Steinbeck 0 2-2 2, Creighton 4 0-2 8, Baker 1 0-0 2, Booth 0 0-0 0, Morse 0 0-0 0, Ross 1 0-0 2, Beck 5 1-2 12, Satathite 0 0-0 0, Coghill 1 0-0 2. Totals 22 6-14 56.

3-point goals — Kodiak 5 (Hernandez 3, Gorgora 1, Matautia 1); Kenai 6 (Drury 5, Beck 1).

Team fouls — Kodiak 11; Kenai 18. Fouled out — none.



Kardinals 43, Bears 23

Kodiak 8 2 3 10 —23

Kenai 14 5 4 20 —43

KODIAK (23) — Barcelon 1 0-0 2, Hernandez 1 2-4 4, Macatano 0 0-1 0, Gongora 2 0-0 6, Chia 1 1-2 3, Mutch 2 0-0 4, Matautia 2 0-1 4. Totals 9 3-8 23.

KENAI (43) — Calvert 0 0-0 0, Holmes 0 1-2 1, Drury 5 2-6 12, Steinbeck 3 0-1 6, Creighton 4 4-4 12, Baker 2 0-0 4, Booth 1 0-0 3, Morse 0 0-0 0, Ross 1 1-1 3, Beck 1 0-0 2, Satathite 0 0-0 0, Coghill 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 8-14 43.

3-point goals — Kodiak 2 (Gongora 2); Kenai 1 (Booth 1).

Team fouls — Kodiak 11; Kenai 14. Fouled out — Creighton.

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