Nikiski girls come back to take 3rd place

A night after losing their top player to injury, the Nikiski girls basketball squad roared back to life Saturday afternoon to snatch third-place honors at the Southcentral Conference tournament at Nikiski High School.

The Bulldogs defeated Seward 46-24 in the third-place game on their home floor, shortly after beating Houston 61-31 in the bracket semifinal. The 61 points is tied for the team’s fourth-highest scoring total this year, an encouraging sign for coach Scott Anderson.

“We came at it a little more focused,” he said. “We were a little more mentally prepared, and the girls were really determined.”

Nikiski lost sophomore guard Bethany Carstens early in Friday’s tournament semifinal against Grace Christian, a game the Bulldogs lost 33-27. Carstens landed awkwardly on her left leg on a layup attempt and did not play the rest of the game. Anderson said Saturday that Carstens is scheduled for an MRI on Monday, when the true extent of the injury will be revealed.

It was then announced Saturday night that Carstens was voted the tournament’s unanimous MVP, while Anderson was awarded Coach of the Year.

Carstens accounted for 40 percent of Nikiski’s offensive production this year, but Anderson said without Carstens on the floor, the team is learning to get points from other sources.

In Saturday’s 61-point outburst, Sophomore Emma Wik provided offense Saturday by hitting five 3-pointers to finish with 19 points in the third-place game against Seward, and sophomore Kelsey Clark had 10 points.

In Saturday’s early game against Houston, Wik hit another five 3s en route to 17 points, while Avery Kornstad hit three treys for 11 points and Clark and Rylee Jackson each added eight.

Anderson said after the team had a night to digest the news, the Bulldogs got to the gym Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m. to begin their quest for two victories, a start to a possible state tournament run.

Nikiski was ranked second overall among 3A competition prior to this weekend’s tournament, and with tournament games counting in the final WPI calculation, a 3-1 weekend run will only help to solidify the Bulldogs’ spot at the big dance.

“These games were confidence builders for us,” Anderson said. “I told them we can still compete at a high level, and it’s about belief and teamwork.”

Grace Christian girls 51, ACS 47

Saturday’s girls Southcentral Conference championship went to the Grizzlies, who successfully defended their region crown.

Grace head coach Ward Romans also won on his old home floor in Nikiski, a place where he won 12 conference and eight state crowns.

Annie VanderWeide went 12-for-12 from the free-throw line to lead Grace with a game-high 25 points. Destiny Reimers scored 14 to lead ACS.

The Grizzlies led 27-26 at halftime, and a third-quarter surge left Grace leading 37-30 after three quarters. In the fourth, Grace drained 12 of 14 free throws to seal the victory.

ACS boys 55, Grace Christian 36

Anchorage Christian toppled Grace in Saturday’s boys Southcentral Conference championship at Nikiski.

After going undefeated all year long against region competition, including wins of 70-56 and 51-35 over ACS, the Grace boys found trouble for the first time. Leading scorer Tobin Karlberg was contained to just six points, none in the first half. Brogan Nieder led Grace with 16 points.

Karlberg was ultimately named tournament MVP, while Grace head coach Jason Boerger received Coach of the Year honors.

Brett Dickerson fueled ACS with 13 points and Danilo Guzman chipped in 12. Dickerson and Guzman propelled ACS with seven buckets in the fourth quarter, helping the Lions outscore the Grizzlies 21-11 to distance themselves.

Houston boys 53, Homer 49

The Hawks took third place at the tournament, using a fourth-quarter spurt to hold off the Mariners Saturday afternoon at Nikiski High.

Kade Taylor led Houston with 21 points, while senior Justin Ellison and Jordan Beachy each notched 13 to lead Homer.

Homer boys 62, Nikiski 60

The Mariners advanced to Saturday’s third-place game by holding off a late charge from Nikiski.

Homer led 31-17 at halftime, but the Bulldogs outscored the Mariners 43-31 in the second half, only to come up short.

Jace Kornstad led Nikiski with 28 points on eight 3-pointers, and Ian Johnson added 22. Koby Etzwiler scored 19 points for Homer.

Houston boys 65, Seward 45

Kade Taylor sent Houston on to Saturday’s boys third-place game with a win over Seward in the bracket semifinal

Taylor finished with 19 points on five 3s. Seward’s top scorer was Nik Pahno with 10 points.

Seward girls 31, Homer 21

The Seward girls ended the Mariners’ season on the spot with a third-place semifinal Saturday morning.

Ayla Lapinskas led Seward with 11 points, while Kaylee Veldstra scored nine for Homer.

The Seahawks got the jump in the first quarter by outscoring Homer 9-6 and led 14-11 at halftime. After an even third quarter, Seward pulled away in the fourth with a 13-8 run over the final eight minutes.

Southcentral Conference awards

BOYS

MVP — Tobin Karlberg, Grace.

All-conference 1st team — Ben Bitler, Houston; Fred Onochie, ACS; Koby Etzwiler, Homer; Brogan Nieder, Grace; Kade Taylor, Houston; Jimmy McGovern, Grace; Sully Hauze, Seward; Brett Dickerson, ACS; Ian Johnson, Nikiski; Sylvanus Edi, ACS; Justin Ellison, Homer.

All-conference 2nd team — Jace Kornstad, Nikiski; Rhett Sieverts, Seward; Jordan Beachy, Homer; Kolby Taylor, Houston; Joel Carroll, Homer; Nik Pahno, Seward; Brian Amirault, Redington; Brodie Brooks, Redington; Collin Smallwood, ACS.

Good Sport — Ben Pelesasa, Houston; Jordan Beachy, Homer; Garrett Ellis, Nikiski; Hunter Kratz, Seward; Brian Amirault, Redington; Caleb Wood, Grace; Andrew Bennett, ACS.

GIRLS

MVP — Bethany Carstens, Nikiski.

All-conference 1st team — Annie Vanderweide, Grace; Jordan Todd, ACS; Destiny Reimers, ACS; Sarah Laker, Grace; Mary-Kate Parks, ACS; Kelsey Clark, Nikiski; Aspen Ruth, Houston; Ashley Jackson, Seward; Ayla Lapinskas, Seward; Avery Kornstad, Nikiski; Brianna Vollertsen, Nikiski.

All-conference 2nd team — Makenna Shamburger, Grace; Ayla Pitt, Nikiski; Uliana Reutov, Homer; Taylor Moore, Houston; Courtney Crockett, Redington; Kira Keller, ACS; Lacy Holmes, Houston; Jesse Davis, ACS; Chaunice Carr, ACS.

Good Sport —Lacy Holmes, Houston; Sierra Randal, ACS; Coral Petrosius, Seward; Rayme Harris, Redington; Sarah Laker, Grace; Emma Wik, Nikiski; Annali Metz, Homer.

Saturday girls

3rd place game

Bulldogs 46, Seahawks 24

Seward 6 8 10 0 — 24

Nikiski 7 16 13 10 — 46

SEWARD (24) — Cinereski 0 0-0 0, Moriarity 1 3-4 5, Hauze 0 0-0 0, Terry 0 0-0 0, VonBorstel 0 0-0 0, Jackson 2 3-5 7, Lapinskas 4 0-0 8, Moore 0 0-0 0, Petrosius 2 0-0 4. Totals — 9 6-9 24.

NIKISKI (46) — Wik 7 0-0 19, Pitt 1 0-3 2, Vollertsen 4 0-0 8, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Kornstad 2 0-0 5, Clark 3 3-4 10, Jackson 1 0-0 2, Porter 0 0-0 0. Totals — 18 3-7 46.

3-point goals —Nikiski 7 (Wik 5, Kornstad, Clark). Team fouls — Seward 10, Nikiski 11. Fouled out — none.

Bulldogs 61, Hawks 31

Houston 8 11 8 4 — 31

Nikiski 15 16 17 13 — 61

HOUSTON (31) — Holmes 1 1-4 3, Graham 1 0-0 2, Davis 0 5-6 5, Ruth 1 2-4 5, M. Moore 1 2-2 4, T. Moore 4 3-4 12, Winzenburg 0 0-1 0, Vanpelt 0 0-0 0, Whitted 0 0-0 0. Totals — 8 13-21 31.

NIKISKI (61) — Jeffreys 0 0-0 0, Wik 5 2-3 17, Pitt 1 2-2 4, Vollertsen 4 0-0 9, Johnson 1 0-0 2, Kornstad 4 0-0 11, Clark 4 0-2 8, Jackson 4 0-0 8, Porter 1 0-0 2, Bostic 0 0-0 0, Druesdow 0 0-0 0. Totals — 24 4-7 61.

3-point goals — Houston 2 (Ruth, T. Moore); Nikiski 9 (Wik 5, Kornstad 3, Vollertsen). Team fouls — Houston 14, Nikiski 15. Fouled out — none.

Seahawks 31, Mariners 21

Homer 6 5 2 8 — 21

Seward 9 5 4 13 — 31

HOMER (21) — Carroll 1 0-1 2, Reutov 2 0-0 4, Knott 0 0-0 0, Doughty 0 1-2 1, Todd 0 0-0 0, Parish 0 0-0 0, Bales 0 0-0 0, Veldstra 2 5-10 9, Cole 2 1-2 5, Box 0 0-0 0. Totals — 7 7-15 21.

SEWARD (31) — Cinereski 0 2-2 2, Moriarity 0 2-3 2, Hauze 1 0-0 3, Terry 0 0-0 0, VonBorstel 0 4-4 4, Jackson 0 3-4 3, Lapinskas 5 1-3 11, Sullivan 0 0-0 0, Moore 0 0-0 0, Petrosius 2 2-2 6. Totals — 8 14-18 31.

3-point goals — Seward 1 (Hauze). Team fouls — Homer 17, Seward 18. Fouled out — none.

Saturday boys

3rd place game

Hawks 53, Mariners 49

Homer 22 10 8 9 — 49

Houston 17 10 14 12 — 53

HOMER (49) — Etzwiler 2 0-0 6, Adkins 0 0-0 0, Ravin 1 0-1 2, Carroll 3 0-1 7, Edens 1 1-2 4, Ellison 5 2-6 13, Beachy 4 1-2 13, McGhee 2 0-0 4. Totals — 18 4-12 49.

HOUSTON (53) — Werts 0 2-2 2, Ka. Taylor 6 4-6 21, Ko. Taylor 1 1-3 3, Ruta 1 0-0 3, Ritter 0 0-0 0, Ross 5 1-2 12, Pelesasa 0 0-0 0, Bitler 4 4-4 12. Totals — 17 12-17 53.

3-point goals — Homer 9 (Beachy 4, Etzwiler 2, Carroll, Edens, Ellison); Houston 7 (Ka. Taylor 5, Ruta, Ross). Team fouls — Homer 14, Houston 15. Fouled out — none.

Mariners 62, Bulldogs 60

Homer 12 19 18 13 — 62

Nikiski 7 10 27 16 — 60

HOMER (62) — Etzwiler 7 3-4 19, Adkins 0 0-0 0, Ravin 0 0-0 0, Carroll 1 0-2 2, Edens 4 2-2 12, Ellison 6 0-0 12, Beachy 7 0-2 17, McGhee 0 0-0 0, Brinster 0 0-0 0. Totals — 25 5-10 62.

NIKISKI (60) — Johnson 9 4-8 22, Weathers 0 0-0 0, G. Ellis 2 1-3 5, Kornstad 9 2-2 28, T. Litke 2 0-1 5, N. Litke 0 0-0 0, B. Ellis 0 0-2 0, Bridges 0 0-0 0. Totals — 22 7-16 60.

3-point goals — Homer 7 (Beachy 3, Edens 2, Etzwiler 2); Nikiski 9 (Kornstad 8, T. Litke). Team fouls — Homer 19, Nikiski 15. Fouled out — none.

Hawks 65, Seahawks 45

Seward 14 15 6 10 — 45

Houston 21 22 12 10 — 65

SEWARD (45) — Pahno 3 1-4 10, Kratz 3 0-0 8, S. Estes 0 2-2 2, C. Estes 0 2-2 2, Wilps 0 0-0 0, Spanos 0 0-0 0, Sieverts 2 2-2 7, Jarvis 0 0-0 0, Nilsson 0 0-0 0, Deboard 2 3-6 7, Petrosius 4 1-5 9. Totals — 14 11-21 45.

HOUSTON (65) — Wyrick 1 0-0 2, L. Taylor 0 1-2 1, Knutson 0 0-0 0, Werts 1 0-0 3, Ka. Taylor 6 2-2 19, Ko. Taylor 2 4-6 8, Ruta 2 0-0 6, Ritter 0 0-0 0, Ross 3 2-2 8, Pelesasa 3 0-1 6, Bitler 5 0-0 12. Totals — 23 9-13 65.

3-point goals — Seward 6 (Pahno 3, Kratz 2, Sieverts); Houston 10 (Ka. Taylor 5, Ruta 2, Bitler 2, Werts). Team fouls — Seward 14, Houston 16. Fouled out — Ruta.

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