Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Nikolaevsk Warrior Kilina Klaich reacts with Megan Hickman after their win against the Cook Inlet Academy Eagles Friday March 7, 2014 at Skyview High School in Soldotna, Alaska.  The Warriors will advance to the small school state championship as the result of the game.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Nikolaevsk Warrior Kilina Klaich reacts with Megan Hickman after their win against the Cook Inlet Academy Eagles Friday March 7, 2014 at Skyview High School in Soldotna, Alaska. The Warriors will advance to the small school state championship as the result of the game.

Nikolaevsk girls beat CIA, moving on to 1A state tournament

The championship-winning teams from the Peninsula Conference tournament at Skyview High School got a chance to celebrate Saturday by cutting down the nets on the basketball court.

They picked a good year to do that, since Skyview won’t be needing them anymore.

The Nikolaevsk girls have gone through the growing-up phase, they’ve shaken off the rookie nerves, and now, they’ve proven they are ready to win a state championship by taking charge early and never letting up in a 37-20 victory over Cook Inlet Academy in the Peninsula Conference championship game Friday night at Skyview High School, stamping their name as favorites going into the Class 1A girls state tournament.

“I told the girls to play with no regrets,” said Nikolaevsk coach Bea Klaich. “Regardless of the outcome, I wanted them to play a game that they could finish and have no regrets, and they put their hearts on the floor and did just that.”

All eight Nikolaevsk players put up points Friday night, and leading the balanced scoring effort for the Warriors was sophomore Kayla Stafford with eight points.

“We’ve been working really hard for a long time for this,” Stafford said. “Our team had faith in each other and we just finally played really good against them.”

The win automatically clinched a state tournament spot for Nikolaevsk. The CIA girls held off a late charge from Ninilchik to grab the second Peninsula Conference spot in Saturday’s second-place game.

Friday’s game was also an outlier among the usual competition seen between the two squads. The 17-point margin of victory was the largest for either team against each other for the time that Hitchcock and Klaich have squared off against each other.

The Warriors’ best trick was defense, as they held the Eagles to only four field goals the entire game. Nicole Moffis led CIA with seven points, and it was her that started the game with a 3-pointer only 25 seconds in that gave CIA the first lead of the night.

However, it would be a temporary lead, as Serafima Kalugin answered back with a trey of her own, and Nianiella Dorvall’s basket put Nikolaevsk ahead on the next possession.

From there, life got increasingly difficult for CIA, as coach Rustin Hitchcock had to bench Moffis before the first quarter was up due to two early fouls.

“We played good basketball, but the offensive synergy wasn’t there,” Hitchcock said. “Going into the locker room after the game, there’s nothing to be mad about.”

Once Moffis was put back into the game midway through the second quarter, the CIA defense began to pick up, evidenced by a number of blocks and steals the Eagles forced on the Warriors.

But, even with the turnovers they enjoyed, CIA continued to find ways to miss the net on the other end of the floor.

“There was a lid on their basket,” Klaich joked. “There were so many baskets that they normally make that they didn’t make. I feel for Rustin because I understand what that feels like.”

Hitchcock chalked it up to one of those nights.

“If (Nikolaevsk is) going to shoot four thousand percent and we’re going to shoot zero, that’s going to happen,” he said. “They are a good team and I know that, but we have to play better, and we just didn’t.

“It’s not that we’re devastated by it, we’re just turning around and focusing on tomorrow.”

Leading 20-10 at halftime, Nikolaevsk poured it on at the end of the third quarter, scoring 10 unanswered points, beginning with two 3s from Stafford and Kilina Klaich 23 seconds apart, and ending with a buzzer-beating, off-balance jumper from Stafford that left the Warriors with a 32-13 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

“I’m proud of my girls for winning by more than one or two points,” Klaich said. “They never gave up until the last second.”

A whopping 9 minutes, 44 seconds, passed between field goals for CIA in a span between the third and fourth quarters, so by the time Ashleigh Hammond tipped in a layup in the waning minutes of the game, it was already out of reach for CIA.

“Usually in the fourth quarter in games against Cook Inlet, it’s tight and we’re nervous, but today was a little more relaxed,” Stafford said.

To add insult to injury, CIA starter Madison Orth suffered an ankle injury in the final minute of the game.

CIA girls 33, Ninilchik 30

Saturday, Cook Inlet Academy stemmed a late rally from Ninilchik to punch its ticket to the state tournament.

Trailing 30-19 with five minutes to go, Ninilchik scrambled to put together an 11-1 run that closed the deficit to a single point with 25 seconds to go, but the Eagles held tough on defense in the waning seconds and clinched the game with two free throws from Nicole Moffis with 6.1 seconds left.

“In a bad way, we were just taking what they were giving us,” said CIA coach Rustin Hitchcock. “I thought we took a step back in that way, but it was also credit to their defense. They shut down Nicole and they shut down our guns.”

Moffis scored eight points, second to the 10 that Ashleigh Hammond put up. Ninilchik was paced by Jessica Rogers with nine points.

Hammond had nine points by halftime, as the junior guard managed to finagle her way through the Ninilchik defense on a number of occasions in the first half.

With 5:30 left in the fourth quarter, CIA was cruising with an 11-point lead, but within minutes, the game seemed to be in Ninilchik’s hands.

“They were just hitting big shots, and most important playing good defense,” said Ninilchik coach Rod Van Saun. “That’s what it came down to.

“I don’t know, it’s not something I drew up, it’s something they found within themselves.”

Krista Sinclair hit a 3-pointer, Rogers followed that with a short jumpshot and then converted the free throw for a 3-point play, then added another two points on another fouled layup.

The sequence of events left Ninilchik trailing 30-27 with 2:09 left.

Orth added a free throw with 41 seconds left, but on the ensuing Ninilchik possession, Rogers got the ball to an open Melissa Ehlers on the right wing, who mailed in a crucial trey with 25 seconds left.

“Ehlers hit a big 3, and it couldn’t have come at a better time,” Van Saun said. “I knew all game we had a chance, and after that, we had a turnover and they got some offensive boards and free throws, and that was it.”

Ultimately, in the final seconds when Moffis tried holding the ball, she was fouled, and she converted on the points to seal the win.

“Luckily our three captains are probably three of the top five ballhandlers in the region,” Hitchcock said. “You have to have the patience and the methodical plan, and we got it into Nicole’s hands, whose made some clutch free throws for us.”

Ninilchik girls 31, Birchwood 26

On Saturday morning, the Wolverines clamped down on defense early and held off the Birchwood Warriors late with offense to win their way into Saturday’s second-place game at Skyview.

Jessica Rogers led Ninilchik with 14 points.

Ninilchik held Birchwood to a single field goal in the first half to grab a 10-2 lead at halftime, then scored 15 points in the fourth quarter to get the win.

Ninilchik girls 41, Lumen Christi 28

The Wolverines kept their state hopes alive Friday with a victory over Lumen Christi.

Jessica Rogers led Ninilchik with 17 points — including eight in the third quarter — and Jordan Finney added 14, with eight in the second quarter.

Tori Kruger paced Lumen Christi with 12 points.

Birchwood girls 52, Seldovia 39

The Sea Otters fell out of the tournament Friday with a loss to Birchwood.

Audrea Roberts led Birchwood with 21 points, 15 coming in the second half. Marina Chissus scored 23 points to pace Seldovia.

Seldovia led 7-4 after the first quarter, and 18-17 at halftime, but could not keep up in the third quarter, as Birchwood outscored Seldovia 20-11.


Saturday girls

Eagles 33, Wolverines 30

Cook Inlet 9 10 8 6 —33

Ninilchik 5 10 2 13 —30

CIA (33) — Hanna 0 0-0 0, Moffis 2 3-4 8, Hills 0 0-0 0, Brush 3 0-0 7, Lyons 1 0-0 2, Hammond 3 2-5 10, McGahan 1 0-3 2, Orth 1 2-5 4. Totals 11 7-17 33.

NINILCHIK (30) — Rogers 2 5-6 9, Sinclair 2 1-1 6, Goins 2 1-4 6, Ehlers 2 0-3 5, Finney 1 0-0 2, Me. Clark 1 0-0 2. Totals 10 7-14 30.

3-point field goals — CIA 4 (Hammond 2, Brush 1, Moffis 1); Ninilchik 3 (Sinclair 1, Goins 1, Ehlers 1).

Team fouls — CIA 13; Ninilchik 15.


Wolverines 31, Warriors 26

Ninilchik 8 2 6 15 —31

Birchwood 0 2 12 12 —26

NINILCHIK (31) — Rogers 6 1-4 14, Sinclair 0 0-2 0, Goins 1 1-5 3, Ehlers 2 0-0 4, Finney 3 0-0 6, Clark 2 0-0 4. Totals 14 2-11 31.

BIRCHWOOD (26) — Vickers 1 1-2 4, Craig 2 0-0 4, Roberts 3 0-1 6, Becker 1 0-0 2, Goward 3 4-4 10. Totals 10 5-7 26.

3-point field goals — Ninilchik 0; Birchwood 1 (Vickers 1).

Team fouls — Ninilchik 7; Birchwood 11.


Friday girls

Warriors 37, Eagles 20

Nikolaevsk 13 7 12 5 —37

Cook Inlet 7 3 3 7 —20

NIKOLAEVSK (37) — Ki. Klaich 2 2-2 7, Kr. Klaich 0 1-2 1, Fefelov 1 0-0 2, So. Kalugin 2 1-2 5, Stafford 3 0-3 8, Se. Kalugin 2 1-3 6, Dorvall 2 0-0 4, Hickman 2 0-0 4. Totals 14 5-12 37.

CIA (20) — Hanna 0 0-0 0, Moffis 1 4-4 7, Taplin 0 0-0 0, Hills 0 0-0 0, Brush 0 0-0 0, Lyons 0 2-2 2, Hammond 1 2-3 4, McGahan 0 0-0 0, Orth 2 3-7 7. Totals 4 11-16 20.

3-point field goals — Nikolaevsk 4 (Stafford 2, Ki. Klaich 1, Se. Kalugin 1); CIA 1 (Moffis 1).

Team fouls — Nikolaevsk 16; CIA 16.


Wolverines 41, Archangels 28

Ninilchik 7 8 14 12 —41

Lumen Christi 3 5 12 8 —28

NINILCHIK (41) — Rogers 8 1-4 17, Sinclair 0 0-0 0, Goins 2 0-0 4, Ehlers 1 0-0 2, Finney 7 0-3 14, Me. Clark 2 0-0 4. Totals 20 1-7 41.

LUMEN CHRISTI (28) — Dickhaus 0 0-0 0, Barnes 0 0-0 0, Jones 1 0-1 2, Estes 2 1-2 6, Kruger 5 1-4 12, Childs 1 0-0 2, McCormick 0 0-0 0, Zitzow 1 0-2 3, Thoreness 1 1-2 3. Totals 11 3-11 28.

3-point field goals — Ninilchik 0; Lumen Christi 2 (Estes 1, Kruger 1).

Team fouls — Ninilchik 9; Lumen Christi 11.


Birchwood 52, Seldovia 39

Birchwood 4 13 20 16 —52

Seldovia 7 11 11 10 —39

BIRCHWOOD (52) — Roberts 7 7-10 21, Goward 2 0-0 4, Vickers 6 2-6 15, Becker 4 2-4 10, Craig 1 0-0 2, T. Goward 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 11-20 52.

SELDOVIA (39) — Chissus 7 9-12 23, Meganack 0 0-0 0, Mitchell 0 0-0 0, Waterbury 1 0-0 2, Swick 2 0-0 4, Turner 3 0-0 6, Crosby 2 0-0 4. Totals 15 9-12 39.

3-point field goals — Birchwood 1 (Vicker 1); Seldovia 0.

Team fouls — Birchwood 6; Seldovia 7.

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