Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Nikiski senior guard Sam Tauriainen looks for a teammate to pass to while being guarded by Bethel sophomore Clevon Constantine (33) Saturday at the Nikiski Tip-Off Tournament. The Bulldogs defeated Bethel 64-54 to win the championship.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Nikiski senior guard Sam Tauriainen looks for a teammate to pass to while being guarded by Bethel sophomore Clevon Constantine (33) Saturday at the Nikiski Tip-Off Tournament. The Bulldogs defeated Bethel 64-54 to win the championship.

Nikiski Tip-Off roundup

Strong. Fast. Clutch. All those descriptions fit the Nikiski boys basketball team at their home tournament.

The Bulldogs captured the 27th annual Nikiski Tip Off Tournament title Saturday at Nikiski High School — their second in a row — defeating the Bethel Warriors 64-54 in the de facto championship game. Nikiski finished with a pristine 3-0 record over the three days in the round-robin tournament, while Bethel finished 2-1.

In the girls tournament, Bethel won after a three-way tie for first was decided by defensive play. The Warriors allowed the least amount of points throughout the three days. Bethel, Nikiski and Homer all finished with 2-1 records in the tournament, with the Mariners getting second place.

Propelled by the 17 points from boys MVP Nathan Carstens, the Bulldogs employed a fast and furious style of offense to claim the title. Over the three days, the team averaged 68 points on offense.

“We just worked together, passed the ball around,” Carstens said. “Couldn’t do it by ourselves.”

Carstens became the first home team boys MVP since 2011, when Lucas Herrin garnered the award for Nikiski.

Nikiski improved to 8-2 overall this season with the win, keeping the Bulldogs in the conversation for a strong run for the Class 3A state tournament in March.

Nikiski coach Reid Kornstad credited his players for the hard work in practice over the week that concentrated on playing fast and hard but with discipline. A win on home court also spurred the group on.

“The guys wanted to win pretty bad, it’s special to them,” Kornstad said. “I enjoy that all the more, seeing them win it.”

Nikiski senior Cade Anderson chipped in 10 points as well, and freshman Jace Kornstad emerged with a big game for the Bulldogs, scoring 10 points, including a 3-pointer late in the third quarter and a layup midway through the fourth that helped distance Nikiski in the late minutes.

“He inspires us,” Carstens said about his young teammate. “He’s like a catalyst.”

“Jace is reaping the benefits of playing with guys that are so experienced,” coach Kornstad added about his son. “The seniors really came up big down the stretch, and we’ve been practicing game situations with closing out games.”

Bethel sophomore Jayvin Williams led the Warriors with 23 points, including four triples, while Clevon Constantine added 10.

After a tight and up-tempo first half between the two sides left the Bulldogs clinging to a 34-31 lead at halftime, Nikiski’s dazzling offense outscored Bethel 21-16 in the third quarter to stretch the lead to 55-47, courtesy of a few big 3s. Anderson, Kornstad, Carstens and Sam Tauriainen all swished in triples to hold Bethel at bay.

After Bethel guard Jayvin Williams couldn’t convert a layup with 5:30 to play in the fourth quarter, Nikiski was able to beat the Warriors in transition, as senior Luke Johnson found Kornstad unguarded under the hoop at the other end of the court and sent a long pass to Kornstad for the easy layup. The bucket put Nikiski up 60-50.

“Those guys on offense were able to settle down and get some good half-court possessions,” Kornstad said. “You add in some up-tempo transition baskets, you’re talking about enough points to win it in the end.”

Nikiski ended up with 10 treys for the game.

As the final three minutes ticked off the board, Nikiski managed the clock well and held firm possession while keeping Bethel from chipping away at the lead with a frantic press defense.

The Bulldogs will travel to play Homer next Friday for a Southcentral Conference matchup.

Nikiski girls 36, Bethel 29

The Bulldogs kept the Warriors from going perfect in the tournament, and finished 2-1 themselves with the Saturday victory. Nikiski took home third place in the tournament after a tiebreaker was needed.

Bethel led 20-16 at halftime, but the Bulldogs won the second half 20-9.

Arianne Parrish led a balanced Nikiski scoring attack with 11 points, while Haley O’Brien had 13 for the Warriors.

Homer girls 51, Kodiak 34

The Mariners wrapped up second place by jumping all over the Bears on Saturday.

Madison Akers, the girls tournament MVP, paced the Mariners with 19 points, including 11 in the first quarter when Homer jumped out to a 22-4 lead. Uliana Reutov added 10 for Homer.

For the Bears, Rica Gongora had 15 and Nelly Hernandez had 11.

Homer boys 87, Dillingham 49

Saturday, the Mariners picked up their first victory of the tournament, while the Wolverines finished the tourney without a win.

Homer nailed 10 3-pointers, with Koby Etzwiler hitting three treys en route to 25 and Jordan Beachy canning five triples on the way to 21. Hunter Edens added 15 for the Mariners.

For Dillingham, John Bouker had 21.

 

FRIDAY

Nikiski boys 68, Homer 43

The Nikiski boys put themselves in contention for the Nikiski Tip-Off Tournament championship with a 68-43 victory Friday over the Homer Mariners.

With the win, Nikiski set itself up for a de facto title matchup with Bethel.

The entire varsity lineup — all 10 players — got into the scoring column Friday, led by senior Luke Johnson with 12 points. Braden Ellis and Nathan Carstens chipped in 11 apiece. Koby Etzwiler led Homer with 13 points.

The home team got off to a fast start with a 13-7 lead after one quarter, then poured in 29 second-quarter points to grab a demanding 42-22 halftime lead.

The Mariners also found themselves in foul trouble, leading to 32 free-throw attempts by the Bulldogs.

Homer girls 64, Nikiski 38

A day after losing a tight, 37-36 game to Bethel, the Mariners got back on track with a dominating win Friday over the home team at the Nikiski Tip-Off Tournament.

Homer got off to a sizzling start, pouring in 31 points in the first quarter to gap the Bulldogs by 22 points. Homer led 50-23 at halftime.

Madison Akers scored a game-high 22 points for Homer, while teammates Kayla Stafford and Aurora Waclawksi added 14 and 13 points, respectively.

Avery Kornstad led Nikiski with 13 points.

In other Friday games, the Bethel girls beat Kodiak 40-27 and the Bethel boys defeated Dillingham 66-24.

 

27th annual Nikiski Tip Off Tournament

Boys sportsmanship — Nikiski

Girls sportsmanship — Kodiak

Boys MVP — Nathan Carstens, Nikiski.

Girls MVP — Madison Akers, Homer.

Boys all-tournament — Clevon Constantine, Bethel; Mason Alexie, Bethel; Koby Etzwiler, Homer; Jayvin Williams, Bethel; Sam Tauriainen, Nikiski.

Girls all-tournament — Kayla Stafford, Homer; Nelly Hernandez, Kodiak; Courtney Williams, Bethel; Avery Kornstad, Nikiski; Katie Crow, Bethel.

Boys free throw: Jace Kornstad, 25/25, made 32 straight for first perfect score in tourney history.

Girls free throw: Haley O’Brien, Bethel, 18/25.

Boys 3-point champ: Carl Charlie, Bethel, 17.

Girls 3-point champ: Rica Gongora, 13.

 

Saturday girls

Bulldogs 36, Warriors 29

Bethel 8 12 3 6 —29

Nikiski 8 8 10 10 —36

BETHEL (29) — Poe 1 0-0 2, Boney 0 0-0 0, Williams 1 2-2 4, M. Crow 1 0-0 2, O’Brien 3 7-8 13, K. Crow 2 0-0 4, S. Crow 2 0-0 4, Jackson 0 0-0 0. Totals — 10 9-10 29.

NIKIKSI (36) — Wik 1 1-2 4, Riddall 1 1-4 3, Vollertson 3 0-3 6, Pitt 1 1-3 3, Kornstad 1 0-0 3, Clark 1 0-0 2, Parrish 4 3-4 11, Jackson 1 2-3 4. Totals — 13 8-19 36.

3-point goals — Nikiski 2 (Wik, Kornstad). Team fouls — Bethel 13, Fouled out — none.

 

Mariners 51, Bears 34

Homer 22 20 7 2 —51

Kodiak 4 12 14 4 —34

HOMER (51) — Todd 1 2-3 4, Reutov 5 0-0 10, Knott 1 0-0 2, Kuhns 0 0-0 0, Draves 2 3-4 7, Akers 8 2-2 19, Waclawski 2 0-0 4, Stafford 0 0-0 0, Kann 2 1-2 5. Totals — 21 8-11 51.

KODIAK (34) — Barcelon 1 0-0 2, Hernandez 4 2-3 11, Villaroya 0 0-0 0, RoseMaca 0 0-2 0, Gongora 6 3-5 15, Chia 1 0-0 2, Mutch 2 0-2 4, Cartens 0 0-2 0. Totals — 14 5-14 34.

3-point goals — Homer 1 (Akers), Kodiak 1 (Hernandez). Team fouls — Homer 15, Kodiak 7. Fouled out — none.

 

Saturday boys

Bulldogs 64, Warriors 54

Bethel 17 14 16 7 —54

Nikiski 18 16 21 9 —64

BETHEL (54) — Daniel 0 0-0 0, Flemings 2 3-4 7, Charlie 0 0-0 0, Williams 9 1-2 23, Alexie 1 3-5 5, Fredericks 0 0-0 0, Constantine 5 0-0 10, Kuhne 4 1-2 9. Totals 21 8-13 54.

NIKISKI (64) — I. Johnson 1 1-1 3, Anderson 4 0-0 10, L. Johnson 2 0-0 4, Kornstad 4 0-0 10, Holloway 2 1-2 6, Tauriainen 3 0-0 8, Ellis 0 0-2 0, Carstens 6 2-2 17, Pamplin 2 2-4 6. Totals 24 6-11 64.

3-point goals — Nikiski 10 (Carstens 3, Tauriainen 2, Kornstad 2, Anderson 2, Holloway 1); Bethel 4 (Williams 4).

Team fouls — Nikiski 17; Bethel 9. Fouled out — none.

 

Mariners 87, Wolverines 49

Dillingham 15 13 11 10 —49

Homer 18 27 20 22 —87

DILLINGHAM (49) — Bartman 2 0-0 4, Tilden 1 0-1 3, Chaney 0 0-0 0, Hansen 0 0-0 0, Chaney 1 0-0 3, Bouker 7 5-7 21, George 3 3-6 9, Tennyson 4 0-2 9. Totals — 18 8-16 49.

HOMER (87) — Ravin 3 0-0 6, Rohr 4 0-0 9, Etzwiler 10 2-3 25, Beachy 8 0-0 21, Edens 5 4-4 15, Felde 0 0-0 0, Beck 1 0-0 2, Carroll 4 1-2 9, Swoboda 4 1-2 9. Totals — 35 7-9 87.

3-point goals — Dillingham 5 (Bouker 2, Tilden, Chaney, Tennyson), Homer 10 (Beachy 5, Etzwiler 3, Rohr, Edens). Team fouls — Dillingham 11, Homer 15. Fouled out — none.

 

Friday girls

Mariners 64, Bulldogs 38

Homer 31 19 6 8 —64

Nikiski 9 14 7 8 —38

HOMER (64) — Todd 0 0-0 0, Reutov 3 0-0 6, Knott 1 0-0 2, Cleary 0 3-4 3, Kuhns 0 0-0 0, Draves 2 0-0 4, Akers 8 5-5 22, Cole 0 0-0 0, Waclawski 6 0-0 13, Stafford 5 2-4 14, Kann 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 10-13 64.

NIKISKI (38) — Wik 0 0-0 0, Riddall 1 0-0 2, Vollertsen 2 0-0 4, Pitt 3 0-0 6, Epperheimer 0 0-0 0, Kornstad 5 1-2 13, Clark 1 0-0 2, Parrish 2 3-6 8, Jackson 1 0-2 3, Porter 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 4-10 38.

3-point shots — Homer 4 (Stafford 2, Akers 1, Waclawski 1); Nikiski 4 (Kornstad 2, Parrish 1, Jackson 1).

Team fouls — Homer 19; Nikiski 11. Fouled out — Cole.

 

Friday boys

Bulldogs 68, Mariners 43

Homer 7 15 8 13 —43

Nikiski 13 29 12 14 —68

HOMER (43) — Ravin 2 1-3 5, Rohr 1 3-4 5, Etzwiler 4 3-4 13, Beachy 3 0-0 8, Edens 3 0-0 6, Felde 0 0-0 0, Beck 0 0-0 0, Carroll 2 0-0 4, Swoboda 1 0-1 2. Totals 16 7-12 43.

NIKISKI (68) — I. Johnson 2 3-4 7, Anderson 1 1-1 3, L. Johnson 4 4-5 12, Kornstad 1 0-0 3, Holloway 2 1-4 6, Handley 0 1-2 1, Tauriainen 2 0-0 6, Ellis 2 7-8 11, Carstens 3 4-7 11, Pamplin 4 0-1 8. Totals 21 21-32 68.

3-point shots ­— Homer 4 (Etzwiler 2, Beachy 2); Nikiski 5 (Tauriainen 2, Carstens 1, Holloway 1, Kornstad 1).

Team fouls — Homer 22; Nikiski 18. Fouled out — Rohr.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Nikiski senior guard Cade Anderson (center) scrambles after the ball over Bethel sophomore Clevon Constantine, Saturday at the Nikiski Tip-Off Tournament. Nikiski defeated Bethel 64-54 to win the championship.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Nikiski senior guard Cade Anderson (center) scrambles after the ball over Bethel sophomore Clevon Constantine, Saturday at the Nikiski Tip-Off Tournament. Nikiski defeated Bethel 64-54 to win the championship.

More in Sports

tease
Soldotna, Palmer to play for Southcentral championship

The top-seeded Soldotna baseball team qualified for the Division II state tournament… Continue reading

tease
Homer softball seeks 5th straight NLC title

The six softball teams of the Northern Lights Conference softball tournament will… Continue reading

tease
Bird Homestead Golf Report: Gorgeous weather continues

We’ve been having some gorgeous weather out here. It is the perfect… Continue reading

tease
Kenai boys, Homer girls move to state soccer semis

The Kenai Central boys soccer team moved to the semifinals of the… Continue reading

Kenai sophomore Alyssa Bucho (right) hands the baton off to senior teammate Tekaiya Rich in the girls 400-meter sprint relay Saturday at the Kenai Invitational at Ed Hollier Field. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)
Area athletes set for state track meet

The Division I and II state track and field meets will be… Continue reading

A Kenai River fisherman and his mother celebrate a successful catch. (Photo by Boo Kandas)
Refuge Notebook: Kenai River, the river that does it all

I did not fully appreciate the recent history of the Kenai River… Continue reading

Hope, Alaska on May 14, 2022. (Courtesy of Sabine Poux)
Out of the Office: Hope

Working in journalism is draining for a lot of reasons. We’re constantly… Continue reading

Homer’s Sela Weisser attacks Kenai Central’s Kate Wisnewski and Valerie Villegas in the Peninsula Conference championship game Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Area soccer teams ready for state

The Kenai Central boys and girls, Soldotna boys and girls, and Homer… Continue reading

Soldotna starting pitcher Atticus Gibson delivers to Kenai Central on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at the Kenai Little League Fields in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
SoHi, Kenai, Homer chase state berths at Southcentral tourney

Three berths to the Division II state baseball tournament will be up… Continue reading

Most Read