Nikiski’s Cody Handley and Kenai Central’s Kaden McKibben battle for the rebound Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, at Kenai Central High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Cody Handley and Kenai Central’s Kaden McKibben battle for the rebound Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, at Kenai Central High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski girls, Kenai boys notch hoops wins

One last-second 3-pointer ago, the Kenai boys were celebrating a wild victory on Nikiski’s home court.

Almost three weeks later, the Kardinals were able to enjoy another win over Nikiski on their home floor, this time without the late drama.

Kenai prevailed 58-45 over the Bulldogs on Tuesday night in a Southcentral Conference clash. Earlier in the evening, the Nikiski girls beat the Kardinal girls 51-45 to forge a varsity split.

Adam Trujillo fueled the Kenai boys attack with 26 points on a night when the 6-foot-3 senior seemingly found space in each corner of the floor to hit shots, finishing 11 for 19 from the floor. Teammate Andrew Bezdecny chipped in 10 points as well.

Trujillo drained two 3s and a pair of swift jumpers for 12 individual points in a 19-8 run by Kenai spanning the third and fourth quarters, helping the Kards seal the victory.

“(It’s about) playing good D and spacing,” Trujillo said. “Cutting to get open, being patient.”

Kenai jumped to 5-1 in conference play and 12-8 overall. Nikiski dropped to 4-3 and 6-12.

In a Feb. 1 meeting in Nikiski, the Kardinals escaped with a conference win when senior Connor Felchle drained a triple with less than a second left to keep from going to overtime.

This time around, the Kards rallied from a slow start to avoid that scenario.

“Our boys came out in the second half, I made it a point of emphasis coming out of the locker room” said Kenai head coach Ken Felchle. “The first two minutes are incredibly important to hold yourself accountable.”

Nikiski, which was playing without junior starter Noah Litke, got 19 points from senior Jace Kornstad and 15 from junior Michael Mysing, but struggled to keep up down the stretch after a tight opening half that saw the Bulldogs grab an 18-9 lead at one point.

Felchle said Trujillo’s contributions Tuesday in the second half made a big mark on the game.

“He’s our main scorer,” Felchle said. “When he goes, we go.”

As the seconds ticked down in the first quarter, however, it was Nikiski holding a near-double digit lead as Michael Mysing and Kornstad led the Bulldogs. A corner 3 by Mysing with 59 seconds to go in the quarter put the visitors up 18-9.

“Nikiski comes out hard every time you play them,” Felchle said. “They come to play every night and they’re just a good team. Well-coached and their energy level is up. It’s just a testament to them.”

Trujillo answered Mysing’s triple with one of his own before the opening period ran out, then popped in another trey midway through the second quarter and a jumper late in the first half to help Kenai take the lead at halftime 31-28.

Bezdecny received the second half inbounds pass and buried a trey just three seconds into the third quarter, giving Kenai an immediate spark.

Nikiski trailed 33-30 in the early minutes of the second half, but a trey by Trujillo helped spark a Kardinals surge that pushed the lead to 44-35 at the end of the third, then to 52-38 with 5:51 left in the game.

Felchle and Trujillo both helped put the game away with consecutive drives to the rim with 2:38 and 1:31 to go, respectively.

Nikiski girls 51, Kenai 45

The Bulldogs pushed their season tally against their new conference opponents to 3-1 Tuesday night with a big conference win.

Bethany Carstens enjoyed a 27-point outing to lead Nikiski, which improved to 7-0 in Southcentral Conference play and 18-2 overall. Kenai dropped to 4-2 and 14-7.

With another stellar showing to her credit, the senior Carstens said she was glad to escape with a victory over the Kardinals on Cliff Massie Court.

“We’ve always played them weird here,” Carstens said. “They have tough defense, Brooke (Satathite) has those long arms, she’s hard to get around.”

Satathite pumped in 12 points for Kenai, which was led by Jaycie Calvert’s 20 points. Calvert hit five 3-pointers in the first three quarters of play, but was held scoreless in the fourth before fouling out. Teammate Liz Hanson also fouled out.

Kenai defeated Nikiski in a Jan. 4 meeting at the ACS Pepsi Invitational, prevailing 42-41. That win came weeks after a 50-28 drubbing from the Bulldogs at the Kards’ home tournament, and Nikiski head coach Rustin Hitchcock believes the loss to Kenai gave the Kards all the motivation they needed to believe in themselves.

“I think part of the early season success against us … that gave them the knowledge that they could hang with us a bit,” Hitchcock said. “We struggled with that (Tuesday), because they came out with energy and sometimes made us look silly.”

Kenai jumped out to a 13-9 lead in the first quarter Tuesday, then used a late spurt to take a 28-24 halftime advantage.

A triple by Calvert two minutes into the third quarter pushed the Kardinals lead to 31-26, but from there the Bulldogs began fighting back.

Carstens connected on consecutive 3s to answer Calvert, giving Nikiski a 32-31 lead with 4:59 left in the third quarter, then rolled in a layup for an 8-0 run by herself.

Carstens answered a Calvert trey with 27 seconds left in the quarter with one of her own just 13 seconds later, putting Nikiski ahead 42-36 with one quarter to play.

Hitchcock said that once Nikiski’s man defense scheme began wearing down Kenai’s penetrative attack, the Bulldogs were able to shut down the points.

“Once we started getting easy baskets and they started getting hard baskets, that’s when it shifted,” he said. “It’s not very technical or sciency.”

Kenai ended with just nine points in the final eight minutes of action, and a 3-pointer from Lillian Carstens with 1:42 left essentially iced the victory.

Ninilchik boys 57, Nanwalek 44

The host Wolverines buried 12 3-pointers en route to a Peninsula Conference victory over the Eagles on Tuesday.

Nanwalek led 23-21 at halftime, but Ninilchik was able to steadily pull away after that.

Garrett Koch poured in 24 points for the Wolverines, including four 3-pointers, while George Nelson had six treys for 18 points.

For Nanwalek, Ben Botero led the way with 22 points, while Malachi Joseph pitched in 11.

Soldotna JV girls 29, CIA 23

The host Stars JV had a big fourth quarter to notch a nonconference win over the Eagles on Tuesday.

The Stars led 9-6 after the first quarter and 15-13 at halftime. Cook Inlet Academy tied the game at 17 heading into the final quarter, but SoHi won that 12-6.

Morgan Bouschor had nine points to lead Sohi. For CIA, Adara Warren dumped in 10 points.

Soldotna JV boys 58, CIA 21

The host Stars JV notched a nonconference victory Tuesday.

Levi Rosin had 21 for Soldotna’s JV, while Josh Pieh had 16 and Jeff Bouschor had 15. For Cook Inlet Academy, Hunter Moos led the way with six points.

Tuesday boys

Kardinals 58, Bulldogs 45

Nikiski 18 10 7 10 —45

Kenai 12 19 13 14 —58

NIKISKI (45) — Mysing 15, Weathers 3, Smith 0, Kornstad 19, Handley 1, DeSiena 0, Eiter 7.

KENAI (58) — Efta 9, Felchle 6, Baker 0, Bezdecny 10, McEnerney 3, Stockton 4, Trujillo 26, Pitsch 0, McKibben 0.

3-point FG — Nikiski 6 (Kornstad 4, Mysing 2); Kenai 6 (Trujillo 4, McEnerney 1, Bezdecny 1).

Team fouls — Nikiski 13; Kenai 12. Fouled out — Baker.

Wolverines 57, Eagles 44

Nanwalek 17 6 11 10 — 44

Ninilchik 17 4 19 17 — 57

NANWALEK (44) — Botero 22, Tanape 0, Wilson 0, Bales 3, Joseph 11, C. Moonin 0, Hunstman 8, Evans 0, E. Moonin 0, Kvasnikoff 0. Totals — 17 6-14 44.

NINILCHIK (57) — Nelson 18, Hadro 8, Koch 24, Clark 6, Moore 0, Davilla 0, Lemons 0, Moto 0, Mumey 1. Totals — 21 3-10 57.

3-point goals — Nanwalek 4 (Botero 3, Joseph); Ninilchik 12 (Nelson 6, Koch 4, Hadro 2). Team fouls — Nanwalek 8, Ninilchik 10. Fouled out — none.

Stars JV 58, Eagles 21

CIA 7 0 11 3 — 21

SoHi JV 13 8 15 22 — 58

COOK INLET ACADEMY (21) — Erickson 0, Moos 6, Ja. Boyd 0, Johnson 3, Cragg 3, Leaf 3, Walsh 0, Anderson 0, Van De Grift 0, Peterson 0, Zeigler 5, Jo. Boyd 1. Totals — 6 7-18 21.

SOLDOTNA JV (58) — Reutov 2, T. Johnson 4, Pieh 16, C. Johnson 0, Bouschor 15, Matheson 0, Spies 0, N. Johnson 0, Wilson 0, Rosin 21, Ducker 0. Totals — 25 4-6 58.

3-point goals — CIA 2 (Cragg, Leaf); Soldotna JV 4 (Bouschor 3, Rosin). Team fouls — CIA 10, Soldotna JV 13. Fouled out — Zeigler.

Tuesday girls

Bulldogs 51, Kardinals 45

Nikiski 14 10 18 9 —51

Kenai 15 13 8 9 —45

NIKISKI (51) — Jeffreys 2, Wik 0, L. Carstens 5, Johnson 2, B. Carstens 27, Epperheimer 0, Clark 5, Druesedow 8, Hooper 0, Reichert 0, Zimmerman 2.

KENAI (45) — Calvert 20, Hamilton 2, Maw 4, Hanson 3, Streiff 4, L. Satathite 0, Severson 0, B. Satathite 12.

3-point FG — Nikiski 5 (B. Carstens 4, L. Carstens 1); Kenai 5 (Calvert 5).

Team fouls — Nikiski 17; Kenai 20. Fouled out — Calvert, Hanson.

Stars JV 29, Eagles 23

CIA 6 7 4 6 — 23

SoHi JV 9 6 2 12 — 29

COOK INLET ACADEMY (23) — G. Nelson 2, Henderson 4, Hyatt 0, S. Nelson 2, Dohse 4, A. Nelson 1, Castenholz 0, Cragg 0, Hammond 0, Warren 10. Totals — 9 4-9 23.

SOLDOTNA JV (29) — Burns 6, Cook 0, Bouschor 9, Leadens 2, Spence 0, McElroy 4, Spies 0, Fischer 4, Edwards 4. Totals — 12 4-14 29.

3-point goals — CIA 1 (Warren); Soldotna JV 1 (Burns). Team fouls — CIA 14, Soldotna JV 10. Fouled out — Henderson.

Nikiski’s America Jeffreys faces pressure from Kenai Central’s Hayley Maw on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, at Kenai Central High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s America Jeffreys faces pressure from Kenai Central’s Hayley Maw on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, at Kenai Central High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Kaitlyn Johnson powers to the basket against Kenai Central’s Jaycie Calvert on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, at Kenai Central High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Kaitlyn Johnson powers to the basket against Kenai Central’s Jaycie Calvert on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, at Kenai Central High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Logan Baker fouls Nikiski’s Jace Kornstad on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, at Kenai Central High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Logan Baker fouls Nikiski’s Jace Kornstad on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, at Kenai Central High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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