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Ninilchik boys advance to title game; CIA girls, boys lose

The Ninilchik boys moved to the championship game of the Class 2A tournament, the Cook Inlet Academy girls lost in the Class 1A semifinals and the CIA boys were eliminated Friday at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.

Ninilchik boys 53, Petersburg 42

The No. 1 seed Wolverines (23-5 overall) were able to overcome a strong inside presence by No. 5 Petersburg to earn the right to defend their Class 2A state title. Ninilchik coach Nick Finley will be looking for his fourth state title in his eight years at the helm in Ninilchik.

The Wolverines face No. 3 Tikigaq at 8:30 p.m. for the title.

Ninilchik led by just two points at the half, but hit a couple 3-pointers in the third quarter to build more of a cushion. The Wolverines were 4 of 14 from 3-point land in the game, and 18 of 42 overall.

Petersburg refused to go away behind the strong inside presence of Kyle Biggers, who had 21 points, and Jack Engell, who had eight. Petersburg also had a 26-19 advantage on the boards.

Cole Moore led the Wolverines with 26 points, while Jaylin Scott had 11, Kade McCorison had six, and Peyton Edens and Rowan Mahoney had five.

Shaktoolik girls 41, Cook Inlet Academy 35

The Eagles (18-7 overall) went cold in the second half and lost in the semifinals to No. 2 seed Shaktoolik. CIA now plays No. 4 Buckland in the third-place game at 8 a.m. at the Alaska Airlines Center.

The Eagles grabbed a 15-8 lead after the first quarter and led 27-17 at the half. Shaktoolik had the gap cut to 29-26 by the end of the third quarter.

CIA was 10 of 28 from the floor in the first half, but only 4 of 24 in the second half.

“We had great shots around the elbows and around the rim,” CIA head coach Josh Hawley said. “We couldn’t get them to drop.”

Shaktoolik hit 6 of 30 in the first half and 7 of 29 in the second half, including 6 of 21 from 3-point land in the final 16 minutes. The Eagles also were hurt by going 0 for 7 from the foul line in the second half.

“They hit some huge shots in the end and when you get a momentum shift like that, it’s tough,” Hawley said. “I tried to get my girls moved out to where their shooters were. We tried different defenses and for the most part it worked in our favor.

“But it’s tough when they make them from NBA range or a bit deeper, and I think there were four like that.”

Hawley said defense wasn’t the problem, though.

“We only made eight points in the second half,” Hawley said. “That’s not normal.”

With 4:30 left in the game, Hope Hillyer scored for CIA to cut the Shaktoolik lead to 35-33. The Eagles would only score two points the rest of the game, and also would have Tatum Rozak foul out with four minutes left.

“That’s tough,” Hawley said. “She’s our ballhandler. She made some great plays to try and bring us back.”

Ella Rollman finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds for CIA on 5 of 10 shooting, while Hillyer had 12 points and 17 rebounds, and Rozak had 10 points and nine rebounds.

Hawley said many of the girls on his team haven’t played a lot of organized basketball, so he’s proud of them for getting this far.

“It’s nothing to sit here and hang our heads about,” Hawley said. “The girls gave me everything they had. They literally tried to run through that brick wall.”

Naomi Savetilik paced Shaktoolik with 21 points. She hit 4 of her 13 3-pointers and went 4 of 4 from the foul line in the final minute to sew up the win.

Newhalen boys 66, Cook Inlet Academy boys 42

The No. 2 seed Eagles (23-4 overall) were eliminated from the tournament in the fourth-place semifinals.

CIA lost to Tri-Valley on a last second shot in Thursday’s quarterfinals and didn’t leave the Alaska Airlines Center until just after 10 p.m. The Eagles then had to be back at the Alaska Airlines Center for the 12:30 p.m. game against Newhalen.

CIA head coach Ben McGarry said the Thursday night game affected the Friday game.

“You don’t want it to,” McGarry said. “You want to say, ‘It’s a new day. Go out and play basketball.’

“Our guys were physically drained. We had a small substitution pattern in last night’s game. A couple guys played the entire game and a couple played the majority of the game. They were physically drained and emotionally drained.”

CIA had defeated Tri-Valley 62-46 on Feb. 4, but that was without Joshua Renshaw, who had 28 points Thursday. McGarry gave Renshaw credit for playing a great game, and the coach also was proud of his team for bouncing back and almost getting the win.

“Today, we had another game against another good team, and we couldn’t quite turn the corner,” McGarry said.

CIA led 15-13 after a quarter and trailed 24-20 at halftime. McGarry then said turnovers and defensive issues began to mount as Newhalen led 48-29 by the end of the third quarter.

McGarry said the Eagles averaged allowing the opposition to score in the 40s this season, but then allowed 65 against Tri-Valley and 66 against Newhalen.

CIA also had 28 turnovers to the 13 of Newhalen. Both teams were 48% from the floor, but CIA attempted 29 shots while Newhalen had 56.

“I think it was just because we were emotionally and physically exhausted,” McGarry said. “They were just bad turnovers.

“We were throwing the ball where we shouldn’t and we didn’t guard well. It’s tough to win a basketball game when that’s going on.”

Ian McGarry had 19 points on 6 of 11 shooting for CIA. Abraham Henderson scored 10 on 4 of 5 shooting. Also for CIA, Alek McGarry had five, Owen Braband and Brady Baeten had three, and Jeremiah Dillingham had two.

The lone senior on the team is Henderson.

“I was so proud of him,” coach McGarry said. “He fouled out of today’s game and that’s a hard way to go out. He had an absolutely great year.”

The coach has high hopes for the future, with three juniors on this year’s team as well as a bunch of freshmen and sophomores.

“I’m excited CIA basketball has some pride again,” McGarry said. “I’m thankful for the fans. We had great support all year, including at the state tournament.”

He also thanked assistants Chad Cragg and Jerry McGarry.

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