Kenai Central’s Erin Koziczkowski and Emma Beck trap Soldotna’s Montana Fischer on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Erin Koziczkowski and Emma Beck trap Soldotna’s Montana Fischer on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai, SoHi, Homer, Nikiski hoops start seasons

The Soldotna girls basketball team defeated Kenai Central 68-16 on Thursday in the season opener for both teams.

The opening of the season was delayed due to the new coronavirus pandemic. The game also looked a bit different than normal, with everybody in the gym wearing masks and spectators limited to two per player.

One thing that didn’t change is the style Soldotna girls head coach Kyle McFall wants to employ this season. With a team full of athletes and not a lot of size, McFall wanted to do a full-court, pressing style.

The only question was if his team could manage that with masks on.

“Credit to our girls for working hard in practice, getting used to wearing masks and still playing our style,” McFall said. “I was worried if we could still do that wearing masks.”

McFall said both teams got off to a jittery start and the Stars led 9-3 after the first quarter.

After that, Soldotna’s style took over. The Stars led 29-5 at halftime.

At this point, the only opponents scheduled for certain for the Stars are fellow peninsula teams. Unfortunately for those teams, SoHi has even more depth than was put on display Thursday.

McFall said three players were out due to the protocol for out of state travel, while another player was not medically cleared to play.

Rhys Cannava paced the Stars with 20 points, while Morgan Bouschor had 18 and Josie Sheridan added 12.

McFall said Cannava impressed in her first varsity start, while Montana Fischer also fit in well in her first varsity action.

McFall, also the athletic director at Soldotna, is well-versed in all the mitigation procedures that must be followed to put on a home basketball game.

“Credit to (Kenai AD) Jesse (Settlemyer) and the Kenai administration,” McFall said. “Everything went really smoothly.”

Kenai head coach Jeff Swick said his program is dealing with a numbers issue this season. Last season, Swick said the Kards had 32 girls at tryouts. This year, he said there were nine at tryouts.

The number is currently up to 15. Swick said the Kards will try for varsity, JV and C teams with that number.

The varsity for Kenai on Thursday was nine players with two freshmen, making for a tough assignment against the experienced Stars.

“Last year we had four seniors, while this year we have two seniors who didn’t necessarily see a ton of time. There’s a lot of inexperience on this team,” Swick said.

Swick said his team’s inexperience would have had trouble with SoHi’s athleticism whether masks were worn or not.

“The biggest thing is the girls didn’t quit,” he said. “It’s easy to give up in a game like that. Toward the end, they settled down and started running the offense.”

Emma Beck and Logan Satathite each had seven points to pace the Kardinals.

Kenai boys 55, Soldotna 52, OT

The host Kardinals topped the Stars in overtime in the season opener for both teams.

Kenai won the extra session 8-5 for the victory.

Lucas Tunseth paced the Kardinals with 19 points, while James Baisden and Jordan Kvasnikoff had 11 points apiece.

For the Stars, Ethan Sewell poured in 20 points, while Nathan Johnson had 16.

Nikiski girls 36, Homer 33

The host Bulldogs edged the Mariners in the season opener for both teams.

Homer trailed 29-21 heading into the final period and saw its comeback come up short.

Lillian Carstens poured in 19 points to lead the Bulldogs, while Kinlee Jeffreys added 11.

For Homer, Laura Inama had 11, while Delilah Harris pitched in 10.

Homer boys 55, Nikiski 31

A balanced scoring attack led the visiting Mariners past the Bulldogs.

Parker Lowney had 13 for Homer, while Eyoab Knapp had 12 and Clayton Beachy had 10. For the Bulldogs, Austin Stafford had 12 and Brady Bostic added 11.

Thursday girls

Stars 68, Kardinals 16

Soldotna 9 20 26 13 —68

Kenai 3 2 4 7 —16

SOLDOTNA (68) — Widaman 3, Brantley 3, Cannava 20, M. Fischer 6, Sheridan 12, Bouschor 18, A. Fischer 0, Crosby-Schneider 6.

KENAI (16) — Nash 0, Pierce 0, Nunn 0, Keyes 0, Koziczkowski 2, Wilson 0, Satathite 7, Bernard 0, Beck 7.

Bulldogs 36, Mariners 33

Homer 6 8 7 12 —33

Nikiski 12 14 3 7 —36

HOMER (33) — Rhodes 0, Harris 10, Reutov 2, Inama 11, Morris 1, Ellison 2, Hatfield 6, Smude 1.

NIKISKI (36) — Jeffreys 11, Stock 1, Carstens 19, Ellis 1, White 0, Nelson 0, Nunley 0, Freeman 2, Grenier 2, Weeks 0.

Thursday boys

Kardinals 55, Stars 52, OT

Soldotna 6 13 11 17 5 —52

Kenai 13 6 12 16 8 —55

SOLDOTNA (52) — Buckbee 0, Johnson 16, Denbrock 0, Johnson 8, Pieh 5, Brown 0, McRorie 3, Sewell 20, Wilson 2.

KENAI (55) — Dunham 8, Medina 0, Baisden 11, Jo. Kvasnikoff 11, Beck 2, Ja. Kvasnikoff 4, Tunseth 19.

Mariners 55, Bulldogs 31

Homer 11 12 16 16 —55

Nikiski 5 10 10 6 —31

HOMER (55) — Smith 0, Beachy 10, Edens 0, Seneff 0, Lowney 13, Carroll 2, Knapp 12, Mann 5, Tennison 9, Raymond 4.

NIKISKI (31) — Bostic 11, Porter 0, S. Payne 0, Grenier 0, Malston 0, Stafford 12, C. Payne 3, Sutton 1, Handley 4.

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