The Kenai Central and Homer girls basketball teams lost opening round games Thursday at the Class 3A state basketball tournament at Palmer Middle School.
The Kardinals dropped a 57-27 decision to Sitka, while Homer lost 69-11 to Anchorage Christian Schools.
The two squads continue with consolation play today.
Kenai plays Nome, which lost 64-39 to Monroe Catholic, at 2 p.m. at Colony High School. Homer plays Hutchison, which lost 58-17 to Kotzebue, at 4 p.m. at Colony. There is no fourth-place game at the tournament, so this will be the final game of the season for the peninsula squads.
Sitka girls 57, Kenai 27
The Wolves, the Southeast Conference champions, rode a strong first half to a victory over the Kardinals and a spot in the semifinals.
Sitka grabbed an 18-4 lead after a quarter and a 32-7 lead at the half.
The Wolves hit 16 of their 20 shots in the first half, while Kenai connected on 4 of 17.
“I think we came out nervous,” Kenai head coach Jeff Swick said. “They’re a good team. We had to play our best game to compete with them and unfortunately, we just didn’t.”
Swick said the Wolves were very good at moving the ball around on offense. He said when Kenai’s defense would collapse, Sitka would find an open player for a shot.
Jocelyn Brady had a big game for the Wolves, hitting 9 of her 12 shots on the way to 18 points. Maitlin Young added eight points on 4 of 5 shooting.
The Kardinals got most of their points from Emma Beck and Logan Satathite. Beck was 6 of 19 for 13 points, while Satathite was 3 of 6 for eight points.
Swick said Kenai is at its best when all the players are contributing. He said everybody’s shots were not falling.
“It’s a good lesson for next year, and we hope to be back next year,” Swick said. “Now we’ll have a little experience.”
The Kards played better in the second half, getting outscored 10-8 in the third quarter and 15-12 in the fourth quarter.
“In the fourth quarter, we started coming out of it,” Swick said. “We realized, yes, we can compete, but it was too little, too late.”
The coach gave the Kenai fan in attendance credit for cheering to the final buzzer and helping the team to a stronger second half.
Swick said the girls said after the game that they wished they had a do-over. The coach told the team they have just that opportunity today in the consolation game.
The coach said the game is a great opportunity for younger players to get more experience and for seniors Taylor Pierce and Michal Keyes to have a nice send-off.
ACS girls 69, Homer 11
The Lions, led by the 41 points of Sayvia Sellers, were in dominant form against the Mariners.
ACS led 36-4 after the first quarter and 55-6 at halftime.
“They’re a really good team,” Homer coach Chad Felice said. “I’m not going to take anything away from their girls. They put in a ton of work.
“We tried to slow things down, but they do a great job of speeding you up. We did better in the second half.”
Mel Morris had four points for the Mariners, while Sophie Ellison had five and Delilah Harris had two.
“The girls played hard until the end,” Felice said. “They tried to do our game plan. I think we got better at handling pressure today and rebounded well.
“I’m proud of their attitude and pride. They played their butts off today until the end.”
Wolves 57, Kardinals 27
Sitka 18 14 10 15 —57
Kenai 4 3 8 12 —27
SITKA (57) — Smith 5, Famini 2, Smith 6, Tucker 0, Morrison 1, Young 8, Nelson 6, Winger 3, A. Brady 8, J. Brady 18.
KENAI CENTRAL (27) — Pierce 0, Nunn 0, Keyes 2, Koziczkowski 4, Wilson 0, Satathite 8, Nash 0, McCana 0, Bernard 0, Beck 13.