The Grace Christian basketball teams proved a tough competitor for host Kenai Central on Friday night, with the Kenai girls pulling off a narrow victory and the boys marking a loss.
The Kenai girls won 42-40, while the Kardinals boys couldn’t break through the Grizzlies’ defenses to come back from a lead the Grizzlies established in the second quarter. Grace won 37-24.
In both games, the Grizzlies put up a tough defense, forcing the Kardinals to fight to get close enough to score.
The girls game started off tight from the beginning, with neither team topping 10 points until the second quarter. The teams traded shots and rebounds for most of the first quarter, with the only points for the Grizzlies coming from senior Tessa Binder. However, Kenai countered with plays that matched Grace’s score, with Kenai leading 17-16 after two quarters.
Kenai pulled ahead in the third quarter, with senior Jaiden Strieff scoring two baskets and a free throw in quick succession. The Kardinals girls made multiple plays off rebounds, sometimes getting in two or three shots after a rebound in the second half.
The Grizzlies relied on Binder, who the other players would set up with an opening. With the exception of baskets by Grizzlies’ players Julia Tanner and Reagan Lash, Binder scored all of the Grizzlies’ points in the game against Kenai — 32 over the course of the game.
Kenai managed to pull ahead to a 28–25 lead by the end of the third quarter and widened it at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the Grizzlies came back with a series of plays that put Binder through to the basket and tightened their defense to keep the Kardinals out.
By the final minute of the game, a 3-point shot and two free throws from Binder had nearly tied the game at 41-40, with Kenai holding its breath with one point.
Then a foul was awarded Grizzlies senior Anna Snow with two free throws in the last few seconds of the game. The spectators held their breaths as Snow shot — and missed both.
One more foul, this time awarded to Kenai, gave Strieff one more made free throw in the last handful of seconds of the game, leaving Kenai with the inchwide win of 42-40.
Strieff led Kenai with 14 and senior Damaris Severson scored 12.
The Kardinal boys had a harder game from nearly the beginning.
Nearly half the first quarter passed before either team was able to score, ending with Kenai in the lead 7-5.
But the Grizzlies’ aggressive defense made that the last time the Kardinals had the lead in the game. Playing with a strong man-to-man defense, the Grizzlies boys made it difficult for the Kardinals to cross half court, let alone score.
By midway through the second quarter, the Grizzlies had pulled ahead with a series of two-point shots and a 3-point shot from senior Nathan Ivanoff. Kenai managed to put nine points on the board in the second quarter, but it didn’t match Grace’s 13 — the game broke for halftime with Grace in the lead 18-15.
The second half continued a tough game for the Kenai boys. Kenai senior Kayden Daniels managed a 3-point shot and junior Jordan Kvasnikoff scored a two-point shot, but those were all the points the Kardinals were able to put on the board for the entirety of the third quarter.
The Grizzlies’ defense pushed them out over and over again, often matching up before the Kardinals even crossed half court, blocking passes and frequently blocking shots.
The fourth quarter started with the Grizzlies in the lead 28-20, and they widened the gap to 37-24 by the end of the game.
The Kardinals’ Braedon Pitsch managed to put four points up on the board, two of them free throws, but despite efforts, the Grizzlies managed to keep the Kardinals on defense most of the fourth quarter.
Ivanoff, Andrew Beck and Kayden Ingram-Lamebull scored 10 points each for the Grizzlies in the course of the game.
ACS girls 79, Kenai 17
Anchorage Christian Schools rolled past the host Kardinals on Saturday in Southcentral Conference action.
Sarah Sorrells paced the Lions with 19 points. For Kenai, Kailey Hamilton had seven, Damaris Severson had six and Jaiden Streiff had four.
ACS boys 66, Kenai 50
The visiting Lions ran away early for a Southcentral Conference victory Saturday.
ACS led 19-8 after the first quarter and 35-17 at halftime.
Daekwon Houston had 19 for ACS, while Braedon Pitsch and Evan Stockton had 14 to lead Kenai. Also for the Kardinals, Kayden Daniels had nine, Lucas Tunseth and Andrew Bezdecny had five, and Jordan Kvasnikoff had two.
Reach Elizabeth Earl at email@example.com.
Kardinals 42, Grizzlies 40
Kardinals—8 9 11 14—42
Grizzlies—6 10 9 15—40
KENAI (42): Morris 3, Hamilton 7, Hanson 6, Strieff 14, Severson 12
GRACE CHRISTIAN (40): Binder 32, Tanner 2, Lash 6
3-point goals: Grace 3 (Binder 3).
Kardinals—7 8 5 4—24
Grizzlies—5 13 10 9—37
KENAI (24): Kvasnikoff 2, Bezdecny 7, Stockton 2, Pitsch 7, Daniels 6
GRACE CHRISTIAN (37): Ivanoff 10, Hiller 2, McGovern 2, Ingram-Lamebull 10, Lentfer 3, Beck 10
3-point goals: Kenai 2 (Daniels 2) Grace 1 (Ivanoff 1)
By ELIZABETH EARL
For the Clarion