Nikiski basketball weekend roundup

  • By Jeremiah Bartz
  • Saturday, January 31, 2015 11:21pm
  • Sports

HOUSTON — Working with a young team can be like clinging to a giant pendulum. With a roster that sports primarily freshmen and sophomores, Houston head coach Steve Henderson has been along for that ride this season, swinging back forth from the good to not as good.

Friday, there was the good. Sophomore Ben Bitler scored 13 points to help the Hawks battle back. And there were the struggles that can come with young squads.

A veteran Nikiski Bulldogs squad used big first and fourth quarters to score a 57-38 win over the Hawks at Houston High School.

“We’re so young, you don’t know what you’re going to get night in, night out,” Henderson said after the loss.

But even in losses like this, Henderson said, he catches glimpses of what is to come.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Henderson said.

Bitler, who has established himself as Houston’s leader in the paint as a sophomore, scored eight points during Houston’s 14-11 third-quarter run. He scored all 13 of his points in the second half.

“It’s probably a different game if he doesn’t get his second foul within the first three minutes,” Henderson said of Bitler. “But it’s tough as a sophomore to try to play him with two fouls.”

Just before the third-quarter buzzer, another sophomore, Kade Taylor, swiped a pass near midcourt. Taylor went to the basket, and Bitler capped the possession with a rebound and putback to cut Nikiski’s lead to 10 points.

Early in the fourth quarter, Houston used a Reed Graham bucket and Bitler free throw to cut Nikiski’s lead to 36-29. But as soon as the Hawks sliced Nikiski’s lead to seven, the Bulldogs found another gear.

Nikiski hit a trio of 3-pointers and scored 21 points in the final period.

“I’m proud of the guys to hang on and extend the lead at the end,” Nikiski head coach Reid Kornstad said. “That’s probably what I’m most proud of. They pulled together, did the things we asked them to do. They were able to get some quality looks at the basket and finish. They had some good defensive stops to support that.”

Luke Johnson was a difference-maker for the Bulldogs, powering his way to a game-high 25 points. Johnson scored 10 of Nikiski’s 16 first-quarter points, and nine in the fourth quarter.

“He’s just so strong,” Henderson said of Johnson.

Henderson said the presence of a veteran like Johnson is a big factor when playing a young team like he has.

“Just the physicality,” Henderson said, “a step quicker, a little bit stronger.”

Kornstad also praised Johnson.

“I liked the way he adjusted, was able to use his physicality without getting himself in foul trouble,” Kornstad said.

Nikiski girls 49, Houston 17

The last time the Nikiski girls saw Houston, the Hawks were celebrating a win over the Bulldogs after the championship game of the Nikiski Tip-Off tournament in mid-January. Friday, the Bulldogs got their revenge, earning a 49-17 victory over the Hawks at Houston High.

“We told the girls to not think about it too much, but keep it in the back of their mind,” Nikiski head coach Scott Anderson said of his team’s prior loss to the Hawks.

Nikiski’s defense proved to be the deciding factor. The Bulldogs allowed only one field goal during the final three quarters.

“We were focused on coming out, playing great defense and allowing one shot,” Anderson said.

Aspen Ruth’s 3-pointer with 3:37 left in the third was Houston’s lone field goal during the final three quarters.

Rachel Thompson led Nikiski with 11 points in the win. Chena Litzen added 11, and Arianne Parrish added eight.

Nikiski girls 32, Grace Christian 24

The Bulldogs won an initial matchup against Ward Romans and his Grace Christian Grizzlies.

In 2009, Romans stepped down as coach of the Nikiski girls after 20 years. He had a 411-125 record, winning 12 Southcentral Conference basketball crowns and eight Class 3A state titles.

The Bulldogs took a 10-0 lead after the first quarter and made it stand up. Rachel Thompson, sister of Hannah Thompson, a former star for Romans, led the Bulldogs with 11 points. For Grace, Annie VanderWeide and Hayley Hagan each had six points.

Grace boys 70, Nikiski 43

The high-powered, host Grizzlies proved to be too much for the Bulldogs on Saturday in Southcentral Conference action.

Trevor Osborne paced Grace with 27 points, while Tobin Karlberg had 15 and Ryan Sheldon added 12.

For the Bulldogs, Cade Anderson had 12 points, while Luke Johnson added 10.

 

Friday boys

Bulldogs 57, Hawks 38

Nikiski 16-9-11-21—57

Houston 8-4-14-12—38

Nikiski (57) – Anderson 0 5-8 5, Johnson 11 2-3 25, Holloway 1 1-4 4, Malstan 1 0-0 3, Tarianen 1 0-0 3, N. Carstens 2 2-2 6, Jackson 1 1-2 3, Pamplin 4 0-0 8; Totals: 21 11-19 57.

Houston (38) – Taylor 1 0-0 2, Ruta 1 4-6 6, Wilson 0 0-2 0, Saechao 3 2-3 12, Graham 2 0-0 4, Dika 0 1-2 1, Bitler 6 1-2 13; Totals: 13 8-15 57.

3-point field goals: Nikiski 4 (4 tied with 1); Houston 2 (Saechao 2).

 

Friday girls

Bulldogs 49, Hawks 17

Nikiski (49) – Parrish 3 0-2 8, Perry 1 0-0 2, Riddall 3 1-2 8, Litke 1 3-4 5, Kornsad 2 0-0 6, Thompson 5 1-5 11, Litzen 5 0-0 10; Totals: 20 5-13 49.

Houston (17) – Bohl 1 0-1 2, Ruth 1 2-2 5, Apangalook 0 1-2 1, Quincy 2 3-6 7, Kapuniai 0 2-4 2; Totals: 4 8-15 17.

 

Saturday girls

Bulldogs 32, Grizzlies 24

Nikiski 10 9 7 6 —32

Grace 0 7 9 8 —24

NIKISKI (24) — Parrish 1 0-0 2, Riddall 1 1-2 3, Pitt 0 0-0 0, Litke 3 0-0 6, Kornstad 0 5-6 5, Thompson 5 1-2 11, Litzen 2 0-0 5. Totals — 12 7-10 32.

GRACE CHRISTIAN (32) — VanderWeide 2 0-0 6, Hagan 3 0-2 6, Ma. Shamburger 0 0-0 0, Hogan 2 0-0 4, Logan 2 0-0 4, Lindfors 0 0-0 0, Ackerman 0 0-0 0, Laker 0 0-0 0, Mi. Shamburger 1 2-2 4. Totals — 10 -4 24.

3-point goals — Nikiski 1 (Litzen); Grace 2 (VanderWeide 2). Team fouls — Nikiski 11, Grace 12. Fouled out — Hogan.

 

Saturday boys

Grizzlies 70, Bulldogs 43

Nikiski 9 5 17 12 —43

Grace 14 17 21 18 —70

NIKISKI (43) — Johnson 4 2-2 10, Holloway 3 0-0 7, Malston 0 0-0 0, Tauriainen 1 1-1 3, N. Carstens 2 0-0 4, Jackson 2 0-0 5, Pamplin 1 0-0 2, B. Carstens 0 0-0 0, Anderson 4 1-2 12. Totals — 17 4-5 43.

GRACE CHRISTIAN (70) — Osborne 11 0-0 27, Shamburger 0 0-0 0, McGovern 2 0-0 4, Bro. Nieder 1 0-0 3, Bra. Nieder 0 0-0 0, VanderWeide 2 0-0 5, Murray 2 0-0 4, Karlberg 6 3-3 15, Sheldon 6 0-0 12. Totals — 29 3-3 70.

3-point goals — Nikiski 5 (Anderson 3, Jackson, Holloway); Grace 7 (Osborne 5, Bro. Nieder, VanderWeide). Team fouls — Nikiski 9, Grace 8. Fouled out — none.

More in Sports

tease
Saturday prep football: Homer wins; Nikiski, Seward lose

The Nikiski football team opened its season with a 12-8 nonconference loss… Continue reading

Kenai Central's Wade James punts against Eielson on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, at Buck Nystrom Field on Eielson Air Force Base. (Photo by Jeff Olsen/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)
Kenai, SoHi football start season with victories

By JEFF OLSEN Fairbanks Daily News-Miner EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE — Asked… Continue reading

Nick Varney
Reeling ‘Em In: More tips from Nick on catching silvers

Now, here are a few more suggestions on how to pop those coho tumbling around the lagoon.

tease
Strausbaughs win ABC Life Choices 5K Run

The ABC Life Choices Celebrate Life! 5K Run was held Saturday in… Continue reading

tease
Week 1 prep football preview: Getting back to normal

The five high school football teams from the Kenai Peninsula begin the… Continue reading

Some great examples of genetic diversity with Kenai River king salmon populations. (Photo by Ken Gates)
Refuge Notebook: Where have the big Kenai River kings gone?

Over the years, fishing for king salmon has provided many anglers with… Continue reading

Bradley Walters leads the pack up Angle Hill on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, at the Salmon Run Series at Tsalteshi Trails. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Out of the office: Race thyself

During the pandemic, I questioned the value of regular community racing and… Continue reading

Anchorage's Lars Arneson finishes third in the men's Mount Marathon Race on Monday, July 4, 2022, in Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Arneson sets new record at Mat Peak

Lars Arneson, a 2009 graduate of Cook Inlet Academy now living in… Continue reading

Anchorage's Will Ross rides to victory in the Soggy Bottom 100 on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. (Photo provided by Angela DiBeradino)
Anchorage’s Ross gets record back in Soggy Bottom 100

Anchorage’s Will Ross now has Alaska’s most coveted endurance mountain biking record.… Continue reading

Most Read