Ninilchik boys, CIA girls move to state semis; CIA boys upset on a last-second shot

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The Ninilchik boys moved to the semifinals of the Class 2A state tournament, the Cook Inlet Academy girls moved to the semifinals of the Class 1A state tournament, and the CIA boys lost a heartbreaker in the quarterfinals of the Class 1A state tourney Thursday at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.

Tri-Valley boys 65, Cook Inlet Academy boys 63

Michael Renshaw scored a layup at the buzzer to give Tri-Valley a victory over the No. 2 seed Eagles (23-3 overall). CIA can still take fourth place at the tournament by winning at 12:30 p.m. today, then again in the fourth-place game Saturday.

Renshaw’s layup capped a crazy final minute.

With a minute to play, Joshua Renshaw hit 1 for 2 from the free-throw line for a 61-58 lead.

Abraham Henderson then turned the ball over on an offensive foul, but CIA got the ball back with 42 seconds left to play. With 24 seconds left, Henderson missed the front end of a bonus, but he immediately got a turnover from Tri-Valley and scored while getting fouled. Henderson made the three throw for a 61-all game with 18 seconds left.

Robert Price put Tri-Valley up 63-61 with 10 seconds left, but Henderson came through again. He made two free throws — the second after Tri-Valley tried to ice him with a timeout — to tie the game at 63 with five seconds left.

Joshua Renshaw then completed a long baseball pass to Michael Renshaw and his layup rolled in as the buzzer sounded to avenge a 62-46 loss to the Eagles on Feb. 4.

The final minute completed a back-and-forth game between the two teams.

CIA got off to a slow start and trailed 28-21 at the half. Ian McGarry then dominated the third quarter, scoring 16 of his 26 points, to give his team a five-point lead headed to the final quarter. By 3:49 left in the game, Tri-Valley had it tied at 55.

Alek McGarry and Henderson added 14 for CIA, while Owen Braband had four, Brady Baeten had three and Jeremiah Dillingham had two.

For Tri-Valley, Joshua Renshaw had 28, Michael Renshaw had 15, Christopher Graham had 12, Reid Williams had six and Price had four.

Cook Inlet Academy girls 52, Tanalian 47

The Eagles (18-6 overall) rallied in the fourth quarter to knock off third-seeded Tanalian. CIA now faces No. 2 Shaktoolik in the semifinals today at 3:15 p.m.

CIA led 9-8 after the first quarter but trailed 18-17 at halftime and 35-31 after three quarters.

Ella Rollman was by far the most efficient player for the Eagles, hitting 11 of her 17 shots and 2 of 3 from the foul line to score 24 points. CIA head coach Josh Hawley said Rollman fouled out with over five minutes left in the third quarter, though.

The rest of the team was able to step up and accomplish the Jim Valvano mantra Hawley has set for his team this tournament: Survive and advance.

“Sometimes you do it a little more by the skin of your teeth, but you do what you’ve got to do,” Hawley said.

Hawley said he told his team at halftime that they were getting outrebounded 16-15 despite having the height advantage. CIA also had 10 turnovers to Tanalian’s 13.

“We weren’t playing our basketball,” Hawley said. “We had to up the intensity.”

While Tanalian ended up winning the rebound battle 28-25, while CIA had 18 turnovers to Tanalian’s 25.

Hawley said he thought free throws in the final minutes and upping the defensive intensity in the second half were the difference.

The coach said the speed and length of freshman Clara Warren gave the Eagles a big boost on defense. He also said Katya Vitryachenko and Rebekah Dillingham alternated on defense and kept the intensity high.

Tatum Rozak struggled from the floor, going 3 of 16, but went 5 of 7 from the free-throw line and helped CIA seal the game. Rozak had 13 points, and Hope Hillyer also got going in the second half to finish with 13 points.

The only other player to score for the Eagles was Kaitlyn Liles, but she had a big two points, nailing a pair of foul shots in the final minute to help salt away the victory.

Hawley said Shaktoolik is a solid 3-point shooting team. Just as in the first round against St. Mary’s, the Eagles will have to deny that shot on defense to have a solid shot to advance to the championship.

Ninilchik boys 97, Unalakleet 55

The Wolverines (22-5) looked like the top seed and defending state champion in defeating No. 8 Unalakleet 97-55. Ninilchik faces No. 5 seed Petersburg in the semifinals at 7:45 p.m.

Even though the Wolverines won state last season, none of the players on the current team won player of the game at state last season because Ninilchik was led by graduated Landon Colburn, Lukah Kalugin and Justin Trail.

“Yet they went out and performed the way they did,” Ninilchik head boys coach Nick Finley said of his team. “They came out playing mature and expecting to take care of business.

“It was cool to see the kids play with confidence like they did.”

Ninilchik was surgical on offense, finishing 36 of 59 from the floor, including 12 of 25 from 3-point range.

Cole Moore, named player of the game, led the way with 27 points, hitting 8 of 12 from the floor and 5 of 7 from 3-point range while also pulling down 10 rebounds. Jaylin Scott had 21 points on 8 of 12 shooting and had 11 rebounds.

Kade McCorison also hit for 20, going 8 of 16 from the floor and getting 10 rebounds. Finley said it was a huge performance from the freshman.

Rowan Mahoney also got into double figures, hitting 5 of 7 for 13 points. Also for Ninilchik, Peyton Edens had eight, and Carter Lemons, Michael Nalewako, Wyatt McCloskey and Cody Blossom had two.

“They ran their 2-3 the entire game and we were able to get our shooters open,” Finley said. “We have a good shooting team, and they all shot with confidence this morning.”

The Wolverines were solid in other aspects as well, getting a 40-18 advantage on the boards and winning the turnover battle 17-14. Ninilchik held Unalakleet to 37% shooting from the floor.

Unalakleet could not keep up, trailing 27-15 after a quarter and 53-28 at halftime.

“Hats off to Unalakleet,” Finley said. “They never quit playing.”

Finley said the Wolverines can’t let up with Petersburg on the slate for tomorrow.

“If we can continue that efficiency and playing defense, I think it will be tough for anyone,” Finley said. “We’ve got to show up and play tomorrow. Petersburg is well-coached and they play hard. They’re big and physical.”

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