Nikiski’s Bethany Carstens (20) drives into a pack of Redington defenders, Thursday, March 9, 2017, at the Southcentral Conference tournament at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Bethany Carstens (20) drives into a pack of Redington defenders, Thursday, March 9, 2017, at the Southcentral Conference tournament at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski girls win 1st day of Southcentral tourney

The Nikiski girls passed Thursday’s opening test at the Southcentral Conference tournament with flying colors, cruising to a 59-24 win over Redington on their home floor.

The real challenge, however, still lies in wait.

Thursday’s victory moved the Bulldogs into today’s semifinal round with a date against Grace Christian at 3 p.m. The winner will not only move into Saturday’s championship contest, but will also secure their position at the state tournament at the end of the month.

“Every game we play, we play like it’s the state championship,” said Nikiski head coach Scott Anderson.

Friday’s other semifinal features the top-seeded Anchorage Christian girls against Seward, which beat Houston on Thursday.

After tallying two blowout wins over the young Redington girls team in the regular season, Nikiski didn’t have too much trouble dealing with the Huskies in a tournament quarterfinal. Sophomore Bethany Carstens pumped in 28 points to lead Nikiski, driving to the rim with relative ease to help the Bulldogs lead wire to wire. Carstens had 17 points by the midpoint of the second quarter, helping Nikiski to a 30-6 lead.

Anderson said he was impressed with the improvement that Redington had made over the course of the season, citing the slow start that saw the Bulldogs score just four points in the opening 4 1-2 minutes.

“We came out a little flat, but eventually picked it up,” he said. “(Redington) is getting better and better every time we play them.”

While a win in the semifinal round would punch their ticket to state, an upset loss to Grace would still have Nikiski sitting pretty for the big dance. As of Wednesday, the Bulldogs were listed second overall in ASAA’s Win Percentage Index standings, which ranks all the Class 3A girls teams in the state by strength. Only Barrow sits above Nikiski in the WPI, so a “wild card” berth to state is very possible should Nikiski run into trouble.

But Anderson does not want to view it like that.

“We don’t want to rely on that,” he said. “We want to do it the old-fashioned way.”

Anderson also said that Thursday’s contest could possibly help the Bulldogs against a potential title clash against ACS on Saturday. ACS won the top seed in the tournament thanks to a coin flip last week that broke up a tie at the top of the Southcentral Conference standings. ACS received a first-day bye Thursday with the top seed.

“We’ve been on the other end of that scenario, and we’ve started out playing tentative,” he said.

In the final 3:16 of the first quarter on Thursday, Nikiski went on a tear, outscoring Redington 13-0 to grab a 17-2 lead, then continuing the charge in the second quarter with a 13-4 run. By halftime, the home team led 37-10.

Redington opened the third quarter with three unanswered buckets, but Nikiski put the game away with 15 straight points in the third and fourth quarters.

Emma Wik went down with a leg injury late in the first half when she collided with a Redington defender on a three-point shot. Wik spent much of the third quarter with an ice pack on her knee, but returned in the fourth, ultimately connecting on a 3-pointer. Anderson said Wik’s return was just to test out the knee.

Houston boys 54, Nikiski 35

The Houston boys outscored Nikiski 20-6 in the second quarter to distance themselves en route to a quarterfinal win Thursday night at Nikiski High.

The win moved Houston into Friday’s 4:30 p.m. semifinal against ACS, which defeated Redington on Thursday.

“If you want to get to where you’re going, you’ve got to get through the best teams,” said Houston head coach Steve Henderson. “(ACS is) there for a darn good reason, and you gotta play well to beat them.”

Nikiski will face Redington today at 1:30 p.m. in the third-place bracket.

Kade Taylor proved to be a thorn in Nikiski’s side all game long, scoring 16 points to lead Houston to the win.

The Bulldogs were led by Jace Kornstad, who popped in four 3s for 20 points, and Ian Johnson, who added 10.

Nikiski head coach Reid Kornstad pointed to the experience discrepancy between the two sides, noting that Houston’s upperclassmen have been working their way to the top all year long.

“Houston played like seniors,” Kornstad said. “They came together and executed together.”

Cody Handley went down in the first half and reappeared later with a swollen ankle. Kornstad said Handley will miss the rest of the tournament.

“It’s pretty tough to match up with him,” Kornstad said. “We’re going to miss him (Friday).”

Early on, Nikiski was able to contain the Hawks’ big man Ben Bitler and Taylor, as Houston led 11-8 after the first quarter, but soon Bitler began getting the shots he had been missing early.

A 3-pointer by Taylor pushed Houston’s lead to 27-14 with 2:22 left in the second quarter, and the Hawks led 31-14 at the half.

Another triple by Houston extended the gap to 38-19 midway through the third quarter, and the win was sealed with a 20-9 third quarter scoring effort.

Homer boys 63, Seward 58

The Mariners, the No. 4 seed, held off the No. 5 Seahawks in a back-and-forth game to move into the semifinals.

Homer plays top seed Grace Christian at 4:30 p.m. today, while Seward plays in the third-place bracket Saturday at 11 a.m. At 13th in the latest WPI release, Seward saw its hopes of a state berth end Thursday.

Homer led 20-9 after the first quarter, but Seward tied the game at 32 at the half. However, a 17-8 run by the Mariners in the third quarter decided the game.

Koby Etzwiler had 30 points to pace Homer, while Justin Ellison pitched in 15.

For Seward, Nik Pahno had 21 points, while Jonah Deboard had 11 points and Hunter Kratz added 10.

Seward girls 39, Houston 35

The Seahawks, the No. 5 seed, nipped the No. 4 Hawks to move into the semifinals against top seed Anchorage Christian Schools.

Seward at ACS play at 6 p.m., while Houston plays in the third-place bracket Saturday at 8 a.m.

Houston led 13-8 after one quarter, but Seward led 21-16 at halftime.

Ashley Jackson had 13 points for Seward, while Coral Petrosius pitched in 12. For Houston, Makayla Moore had 11 points.

Grace girls 42, Homer 22

The No. 2 seed Grizzlies cruised into the semifinals against Nikiski by topping No. 6 seed Homer.

Homer, which begins play in the third-place bracket at noon today against Redington, is 16th in the WPI and won’t be returning to state. Grace and Nikiski play at 3 p.m.

Sarah Laker led a balanced attack for Grace Christian with 11 points. For Homer, Uliana Reutov had 14 points.

ACS boys 92, Redington 10

The No. 2 seed Lions roared into the semifinals by topping Redington.

ACS plays in the semis at 7:30 p.m. today, while Redington begins play in the third-place bracket at 1:30 p.m. today.

Collin Smallwood had 26 points for the Lions, while Danilo Guzman had 12 points and Brett Dickerson added 11. For Redington, Brody Brooks had 10 points.

 

Thursday boys

Mariners 63, Seahawks 58

Homer 20 12 17 14 — 63

Seward 9 23 8 18 — 58

HOMER (63) — Rohr 2 0-2 5, Etzwiler 9 7-8 30, Adkins 0 0-0 0, Ravin 0 0-0 0, Carroll 0 0-0 0, Edens 2 0-0 4, Ellison 7 1-3 15, Beachy 2 3-6 9, McGhee 0 0-0 0. Totals — 22 11-19 63.

SEWARD (58) — Pahno 9 1-2 21, Kratz 3 3-4 10, C. Estes 0 0-0 0, Wilps 0 0-0 0, Spanos 0 2-4 2, Sieverts 3 2-5 8, Deboard 5 1-2 11, Petrosius 2 2-2 6. Totals — 22 11-19 58.

3-point goals — Homer 8 (Etzwiler 5, Beachy 2, Rohr); Seward 3 (Pahno 2, Kratz). Team fouls — Homer 19, Seward 15. Fouled out — Carroll, C. Estes, Sieverts.

 

Hawks 54, Bulldogs 35

Houston 11 20 20 3 — 54

Nikiski 8 6 9 12 — 35

HOUSTON (54) — Wyrick 0 0-0 0, Knutson 0 0-0 0, Werts 1 1-2 4, Ka. Taylor 7 0-0 16, Ko. Taylor 4 3-3 11, Ruta 3 0-0 6, Ritter 0 0-0 0, Ross 2 1-4 5, Pelesasa 2 0-0 4, Bitler 4 0-1 8. Totals — 23 5-10 54.

NIKISKI (35) — Johnson 5 0-4 10, Weathers 0 0-0 0, G. Ellis 0 0-0 0, Kornstad 8 0-0 20, T. Litke 0 0-0 0, Mysing 0 0-0 0, N. Litke 0 0-0 0, B. Ellis 1 0-0 2, DeSiena 0 0-0 0, Bridges 0 1-2 1, Eiter 1 0-0 2, Handley 0 0-0 0. Totals — 15 1-6 35.

3-point goals — Houston 3 (Ka. Taylor 2, Werts); Nikiski 4 (Kornstad 4); Team fouls — Houston 6, Nikiski 11. Fouled out — none.

 

Thursday girls

Seahawks 39, Hawks 35

Seward 8 13 9 9 — 39

Houston 13 3 12 7 — 35

SEWARD (39) — Moriarity 2 0-1 4, Hauze 0 0-0 0, Terry 0 0-0 0, VonBorstel 3 1-1 8, Jackson 3 5-6 13, Lapinskas 1 0-3 2, Moore 0 0-0 0, Petrosius 5 2-4 12. Totals — 14 8-15 39.

HOUSTON (35) — Holmes 2 0-0 4, Graham 0 0-0 0, Davis 3 1-2 8, Ruth 2 1-2 5, M. Moore 3 2-2 11, T. Moore 2 1-2 6, Winzenburg 0 0-0 0, Whitted 0 1-2 1. Totals — 12 6-10 35.

3-point goals — Seward 3 (Jackson 2, BonBorstel); Houston 5 (M. Moore 3, Davis, T. Moore). Team fouls — Seward 11, Houston 19. Fouled out — Ruth, T. Moore.

 

Grizzlies 42, Mariners 22

Grace 12 10 13 7 — 42

Homer 4 6 4 8 — 22

GRACE CHRISTIAN (42) — VanderWeide 3 0-2 8, Markel 1 0-1 3, Osborne 1 0-0 3, Shamburger 2 3-4 7, Jarvis 1 0-0 2, Salima 3 0-0 8, Laker 4 3-4 11. Totals — 15 6-11 42.

HOMER (22) — Carroll 0 0-0 0, Reutov 5 4-4 14, Knott 0 0-0 0, Doughty 0 0-0 0, Todd 1 2-4 4, Parish 0 0-0 0, Bales 0 0-0 0, Veldstra 2 0-0 4, Cole 0 0-0 0, Box 0 0-0 0. Totals — 8 6-8 22.

3-point goals — Grace 6 (VanderWeide 2, Salima 2, Markel, Osborne). Team fouls — Grace 8, Homer 14. Fouled out — none.

 

Bulldogs 59, Huskies 24

Redington 2 8 6 8 — 24

Nikiski 17 20 13 9 — 59

REDINGTON (24) — Koozata 0 0-0 0, Ltyle 0 0-0 0, Crockett 4 1-2 9, Clarey 0 0-0 0, Aparazuk 2 0-0 4, Fuller 2 5-11 9, Kuzmin 1 0-0 2, Horne 0 0-0 0. Totals — 9 6-13 24.

NIKISKI (59) — Jeffreys 0 0-3 0, Wik 2 2-2 7, Pitt 0 0-0 0, Vollertsen 1 0-0 2, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Carstens 9 8-9 28, Kornstad 1 4-4 7, Clark 3 3-3 9, Jackson 1 0-0 2, Porter 0 0-0 0, Bostic 1 0-0 2, Druesdow 1 0-0 2. Totals — 19 17-21 59.

3-point goals — Nikiski 4 (Carstens 2, Wik, Kornstad). Team fouls — Redington 15, Nikiski 11. Fouled out — none.

Brianna Vollertsen of Nikiski drives to the hoop Thursday, March 9, 2017, at Nikiski High School.

Brianna Vollertsen of Nikiski drives to the hoop Thursday, March 9, 2017, at Nikiski High School.

Nikiski’s Kaitlyn Johnson (14) guards a Redington player in the second half of Thursday’s quarterfinal at the Southcentral Conference tournament at Nikiski High School on March 9, 2017. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Kaitlyn Johnson (14) guards a Redington player in the second half of Thursday’s quarterfinal at the Southcentral Conference tournament at Nikiski High School on March 9, 2017. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski girls win 1st day of Southcentral tourney

Nikiski’s Kaitlyn Johnson (14) guards a Redington player in the second half of Thursday’s quarterfinal at the Southcentral Conference tournament at Nikiski High School on March 9, 2017. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

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