Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Kenai's Alli Steinbeck defends the basket during their game against Palmer Thursday Feb. 20, 2014 in Kenai, Alaska.

Kenai hoops squads swept by Palmer

A day after being swept by Soldotna, the Palmer hoops teams were the ones doing the sweeping Thursday night, getting Northern Lights Conference wins over Kenai at Kenai Central High School.

The Palmer boys led wire to wire in a 55-39 victory over the Kardinals, although the action was closer than the score indicated.

Adam Ramoth scored 18 points to lead Palmer, and teammate Cody Wells added 15 as well. Kenai’s Trevor Shirnberg scored 10 points to lead the Kards.

“Every conference win is big,” said Palmer coach Brandon Blake. “It’s definitely nice to come off that tough loss yesterday on the road and respond.”

The win improves Palmer’s season to 7-13, while Kenai continues to push on with only two wins to its name.

“We are learning to compete, and that’s a good thing, it’s a step in the right direction,” said Kenai coach Ken Felchle. “It’s good, mentally, for the kids, because they don’t see it that way. They see only wins and losses, and they look at the outcome instead of the overall picture.”

Kenai stuck with Palmer and its quick guards through most of the game, only to succumb late to missed buckets.

Kenai cut the gap to three points early in the fourth quarter, but from there on out, Palmer ran away with its stellar shooting from Ramoth and Wells, as well as James Nisbett, who had 11 points.

“We were a little sluggish to start the game, but I thought we responded well,” Blake said. “Cody Wells brought a lot of energy tonight, and Adam Ramoth finished really well in the second half.”

After trailing the Moose 18-13 at the end of the first quarter, Kenai began to find a groove in its passing game, which led to open looks. With 3 minutes, 32 seconds, left in the first half, the Kardinals trailed by only a single point. But, by the halftime break, Palmer had pushed the lead back out to 26-21.

“We talked about it at halftime, we felt like we were just settling for shots,” Felchle said. “Taking shots and not getting to the rim. We wanted to make that adjustment and then also stop them from scoring.

“Our goal was to attack the rim, and we did and we got good looks. We just didn’t finish at the rim.”

Finishing shots continued to plague Kenai in the third quarter, but a staunch defense also kept Palmer from scoring much. With 1:53 left in the third, Shirnberg hit a jumper that put Kenai behind 32-29.

Austin McKee started the fourth quarter with a crucial 3-pointer that put Kenai within three points of Palmer, but that would be as close as they would get the rest of the way. The Moose answered with a driving layup from Wells and three free throws from Ramoth on a foul call with just over six minutes to go.

With 5:05 left, Wells drilled an ice-cold trey that distanced Palmer by 10.

“Throughout the whole game, we were doing a good job, but we just were scoring with them,” Felchle said. “I don’t care who you’re playing, if you don’t score, you’re not going to win.”

With the conference tournament a mere two weeks away, Felchle said he is primarily focused on keeping his squad on the road to improvement each and every game.

“At the beginning of the year, our goal was to get better, and we have continued to do that,” he said. “We have competed every night and have been in basketball games.”

Palmer girls 42, Kenai 27

After getting off to a fast start in the first quarter, the Moose held back the Kardinals en route to a Northern Lights Conference win Thursday night in Kenai.

Carly Venzke led Palmer with 12 points, while Kenai’s Laura Creighton topped the Kards with nine points.

Palmer coach Lyle Busby said after starting slow and losing to Soldotna on Wednesday, early points were needed Thursday to help his team win.

“That was our whole focus, tonight we wanted to try something different,” Busby said. “I think tonight our depth really showed. I pretty much went nine deep and just rotated. We saw some things against Soldotna that we can do a little differently, a lot of these teams have played six or seven people, but we don’t lose a lot nine deep.”

Palmer improved to 11-10 overall (3-5 conference) with the win, while Kenai dropped to 8-11 (0-6 conference).

Busby said after losing to Kenai at the Dimond Lynx tournament earlier in the season, his squad came into Kenai looking to turn the tables the second time around.

“I think Palmer just came out playing better than we did,” said Kenai coach Stacia Rustad. “They hit shots, and we didn’t. We struggled getting the ball across halfcourt.”

Palmer pressed Kenai all night, frustrating the Kards by trapping in the halfcourt and forcing a few 10-second violations. Additional sloppy ballhandling led to a rough night for Kenai.

The Moose outscored Kenai 16-5 after one quarter, but Kenai managed the gap by outscoring the Moose 10-7 in the second. After trailing 16-2 at one point, Kenai scored eight straight points, getting layups from Hannah Barcus and Creighton. By halftime, Kenai trailed 23-15.

In the third quarter, Palmer began taking longer, perimeter shots, which combined with offensive rebounds, set the stage for a 13-3 scoring performance.

“They came out on fire, and we came out flat,” Rustad said. “We cannot afford to play like that. We cannot expect to be in ballgames with that.”

By the time the third frame ended, the Moose were doubled up 36-18 on the Kards.

Kenai will face Colony Friday night in Kenai, with the girls game at 6 p.m. and the boys at 7:30 p.m.


Thursday boys

Moose 55, Kardinals 39

Palmer 18 8 12 17 —55

Kenai 13 8 11 7 —39

PALMER (55) — Ramoth 6 5-5 18, Jones 2 0-0 4, Roth 0 0-0 0, T. Ramoth 0 0-0 0, Ferris 0 0-0 0, Southwick 0 0-2 0, Wells 5 2-2 15, Nisbett 5 0-3 11, Blake 0 0-0 0, Christiansen 0 3-4 3, Colbert 2 0-0 4, Yanez 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 10-16 55.

KENAI (39) — Theisen 1 0-0 2, Glushkov 0 0-0 0, Shirnberg 3 4-6 10, McKee 4 0-0 9, Brazell 1 0-0 2, Jackman 2 2-2 6, Ivy 0 1-2 1, Sepulveda 0 0-0 0, Beeson 0 0-0 0, Foree 2 1-2 6, Jones 1 0-0 3, Wortham 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 8-12 39.

3-point field goals — Palmer 4 (Wells 3, Ramoth 1); Kenai 3 (McKee 1, Foree 1, Jones 1).

Team fouls — Palmer 8; Kenai 16.


Thursday girls

Moose 42, Kardinals 27

Palmer 16 7 13 6 —42

Kenai 5 10 3 9 —27

PALMER (42) — King 0 0-0 0, Venzke 5 0-0 12, K. DePriest 2 0-0 4, Bowman 1 0-0 2, Oshiensky 2 0-0 4, Ledger 1 2-2 4, Perkins 1 0-0 2, Smylie 2 2-2 6, Till 0 0-0 0, L. DePriest 3 2-4 8. Totals 17 6-8 42.

KENAI (27) — Ostrander 0 0-1 0, English 1 0-1 3, Drury 1 0-0 2, A. Steinbeck 0 0-0 0, Creighton 3 3-4 9, Baker 0 2-2 2, C. Steinbeck 1 0-0 2, Barcus 3 1-1 7, Beck 0 2-4 2, Every 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 8-13 27.

3-point field goals — Palmer 2 (Venzke 2); Kenai 1 (English 1).

Team fouls — Palmer 18; Kenai 12.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Kenai’s Hannah Barcus looks for an opening to pass after snagging a rebound during their game against Palmer Thursday Feb. 20, 2014 at Kenai Central High School in Soldotna, Alaska.

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