Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Seldovia guard Aidan Philpot guards Ninilchik forward Austin White in Friday night's Peninsula Conference boys championship game at Homer High School.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Seldovia guard Aidan Philpot guards Ninilchik forward Austin White in Friday night's Peninsula Conference boys championship game at Homer High School.

Ninilchik boys win Peninsula Conference title

A year ago, the Seldovia boys brought their hometown its first state basketball championship after a rapid rise to the top of the Peninsula Conference hierarchy.

This year, the Ninilchik boys are trying to repeat the feat. This weekend was a great time to start.

The Wolverines held off a determined Seldovia squad Friday night at Homer High School to capture the Peninsula Conference boys championship with a narrow 57-55 victory over the Sea Otters. It is Ninilchik’s first conference title since 2002, and the first state appearance for the Wolverines since 2010.

And Ninilchik did it in a year in which the conference was loaded. That was driven home in the conference’s second-place game Saturday, when Nikolaevsk topped Seldovia 61-46 to earn the conference’s final state berth.

The Warriors make their third-straight state tournament, while Seldovia’s season is over. The Sea Otters had won the last two conference titles and last year’s Class 1A state championship.

Ninilchik coach Nick Finley said the novel experience of winning the conference tournament should benefit his team at state.

“It’s great, our boys played great,” Finley said. “We panicked a little there, but I think we really needed a game like this one.”

After sweeping through conference play in the regular season and rarely winning by only single digits, the Wolverines had to sweat through their first close shave of the conference season, seeing a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter slip away to nearly nothing in the final minute.

“We let them back in,” said Austin White, a junior center for Ninilchik. “We just had some defensive lapses there.”

“As the game goes on, the hoop just seems to get smaller and smaller,” added junior teammate Tyler Presley.

Presley scored a game-high 25 points to lead Ninilchik, including five 3s, while White had 18, including 12 in the first quarter.

Early on, Ninilchik seemingly had no trouble getting to the rim, as White used his 6-foot-8 height to drive and cut to the basket for floaters and layups.

“It’s definitely a mismatch in the low post,” White said. “We wanted to take away their shooters.”

But it was Seldovia’s dynamic duo of Aidan Philpot and Calem Collier that put on the finishing kick. Collier hit four 3s to finish with 17 points and Philpot recorded 14 points in the fourth quarter alone to end up with 23.

“They’re warriors, and they don’t quit,” Finley said. “Calem and Aidan wanted it, and they have the experience to make a comeback like that.”

Ninilchik led by as much as 51-32 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, and seemingly on cruise control to the title, but Seldovia knew there was time left to make a run.

Philpot launched an innocuous 3 with 6:53 to play that began the charge, and by the time the scoreboard read 2:27, Seldovia had cut the lead to single digits at 54-45, following a triple by Robert Waterbury.

Philpot stole the ball and was fouled with 1:56 remaining and converted both free throws, then collected the ball on the next possession and buried a triple with 1:30 left to close the gap to 54-50. Suddenly, Ninilchik was feeling uneasy.

“We’re not used to winning close games, so when it got down to the wire, it was a great learning experience,” Finley said.

Presley was fouled with 1:18 left and converted both free throws to push the lead back to six points, but a missed foul shot by Dalton Geppert with 50 seconds on the clock led to a rebound and baseline layup by Philpot, cutting the lead to 56-53.

White was fouled on the subsequent Ninilchik possession, but missed both shots from the charity stripe with 29 ticks left. Collier was fouled on his drive to the basket on the next play and sunk both foul shots to narrow the gap to 56-55, capping a 23-5 run by Seldovia.

With 13 seconds to play, Pat Brandt was fouled and stepped up to foul line. Brandt missed the first attempt but hit the second to widen the lead to two points.

“Pat’s not our best free-throw shooter but he hit a big one there,” Finley admitted.

In the final 13 seconds, Seldovia saw its first shooting attempt go awry and nearly cross the center line, and the desperation trey by Philpot missed low at the buzzer.

Ultimately, the victory was one to savor by Ninilchik.

“This is awesome,” Presley said. “It’s a huge deal, and its the first time we’ve gone undefeated in the conference.”

Presley said winning the title breathed a sense of relief into the Wolverines with Saturday’s second-place game action still to be played as of Friday night.

“That’s what we wanted,” he said. “We wanted to sit back and watch the rest of the games.”

Nikolaevsk boys 61, Seldovia 46

Felemon Molodih had a huge game for the Warriors, with 23 points on 60 percent shooting, plus seven rebounds and four steals.

Neil Gordeev added 13 points for Nikolaevsk. For Seldovia, Calem Collier had 23 points and Aidan Philpot added 15.

Nikolaevsk boys 54,
Wasilla Lake 47

The Warriors moved into the second-place game with a win over the Rams.

Jonah Fefelov hit seven 3-pointers on the way to 22 points, while Nikit Fefelov added 12. For Wasilla Lake, Vinny Huber had 20 and Brody Neufeld added 16.

Nikolaevsk boys 65,
Birchwood Christian 21

The Warriors moved into the second-place semifinals with a big victory over the Eagles on Friday.

Nikolaevsk will play Wasilla Lake Christian at noon today for a spot in the second-place game. The winner of that game plays Seldovia for second place and the conference’s final state berth at 4 p.m.

The Warriors stayed fresh by jumping to a 14-3 lead after one and 42-8 lead at halftime. Felemon Molodih and Jonah Fefelov each had 14, while Neil Gordeev and Anfim Kalugin each had 10. For Birchwood Christian, Collin Becker had 10.

Wasilla Lake 60, Lumen Christi 17

The Rams rolled past the Archangels on Friday into the second-place semifinals.

Jordan Auldridge had 16 points for Wasilla Lake, while Brandon Stiner had 14 and Vinny Huber added 10. For Lumen, Joey Brown had nine.

 

Peninsula Conference awards

BOYS

MVP — Aidan Philpot, Seldovia.

Coach of Year — Nick Finley, Ninilchik.

Sportsmanship — Lumen Christi.

All-Conference — Aidan Philpot, Seldovia; Calem Collier, Seldovia; Austin White, Ninilchik; Tyler Presley, Ninilchik; Neil Gordeev, Nikolaevsk; Brody Neufeld, Wasilla Lake; Nikit Fefelov, Nikolaevsk; Jonah Fefelov, Nikolaevsk; Collin Becker, Birchwood; Joey Brown, Lumen; Dalton Geppert, Ninilchik; Brandon Steiner, Wasilla Lake; Felemon Molodih, Nikolaevsk.

Free throws — Brody Neufeld, Wasilla Lake, 22.

3-pointers — Aidan Philpot, Seldovia, 16; Nikit Fefelov, Nikolaevsk, 16.

Academic team — Aidan Philpot, Seldovia; Sage Stanish, Seldovia; Joey Brown, Lumen Christi; Kaare Helgesen, Lumen Christi; Collin Becker, Birchwood; Michael Balos, Birchwood; Landen Wohrle, Birchwood; Logen Wohrle, Birchwood; Keith Cramer, Birchwood; Bradley Nunley, Birchwood; Braden Nunley, Birchwood; Uriah Huntsman, Nanwalek; Tyler Presley, Ninilchik.

Tournament MVP — Tyler Presley, Ninilchik.

Boys all-tournament — Aidan Philpot, Seldovia; Calem Collier, Seldovia; Brody Neufeld, Wasilla Lake; Austin White, Ninilchik; Nikit Fefelov, Nikolaevsk; Felemon Molodih, Nikolaevsk; Collin Becker, Birchwood; Neil Gordeev, Nikolaevsk; Pat Brandt, Ninilchik; Jonah Fefelov, Nikolaevsk; Brandon Steiner, Wasilla Lake.

 

Friday boys

Friday boys championship

Wolverines 57, Sea Otters 55

Ninilchik 20 12 17 8 —57

Seldovia 12 4 16 23 —55

NINILCHIK (57) — Presley 7 6-10 25, Geppert 1 0-1 2, Koch 1 0-0 3, Brandt 2 2-4 6, Bartolowits 1 0-0 3, Mumey 0 0-0 0, White 9 0-2 18. Totals 21 8-17 57.

SELDOVIA (55) — Waterbury 1 0-0 3, Butero 3 0-0 7, Collier 5 3-4 17, Haller 0 0-0 0, Philpot 8 4-7 23, Swearingen 0 0-0 0, Stanish 2 1-4 5. Totals 19 8-15 55.

3-point goals — Ninilchik 7 (Presley 5, Koch 1, Bartolowits 1); Seldovia 9 (Collier 4, Philpot 3, Waterbury 1, Butero 1). Team fouls — Ninilchik 10; Seldovia 15. Fouled out — Stanish.

 

Warriors 65, Eagles 21

Birchwood 3 5 7 6 —21

Nikolaevsk 14 28 17 6 —65

BIRCHWOOD CHRISTIAN (21) — Becker 4 2-4 10, Bradley Nunley 0 0-0 0, Peterson 0 0-0 0, Wohrle 2 0-0 4, Reich 0 0-0 0, Braeden Nunley 0 0-0 0, Balos 2 0-0 6, McKinley 0 0-0 0, Wohrle 0 1-2 1. Totals — 8 3-6 21.

NIKOLAEVSK (65) — Boquecosa 0 0-0 0, K. Molodih 0 0-0 0, Jones 2 0-0 4, G. Trail 1 0-0 2, Whaley 1 1-2 3, Yakunin 0 0-0 0, N. Fefelov 3 1-2 8, Gordeev 4 0-1 10, F. Molodih 6 1-1 14, J. Fefelov 4 0-0 14, M. Trail 0 0-0 0, Kalugin 5 0-2 10. Totals — 27 3-8 65.

3-point goals — Birchwood 2 (Balos 2); Nikolaevsk 8 (J. Fefelov 4, Gordeev 2, N. Fefelov, F. Molodih). Team fouls — Birchwood 8, Nikolaevsk 8. Fouled out — Reich.

 

Saturday boys

Warriors 54, Rams 47

Wasilla 7 16 10 14 —47

Nikolaevsk 11 7 19 17 —54

WASILLA LAKE CHRISTIAN (47) — Huber 8 4-5 20, Stiner 1 0-0 2, Willson 0 0-0 0, Auldridge 7 0-0 16, Neufeld 7 0-0 16, Offord 2 1-2 6. Totals — 19 5-7 47.

NIKOLAEVSK (54) — Boquecosa 0 0-0 0, K. Molodih 1 2-2 4, G. Trail 0 0-0 0, N. Fefelov 4 2-3 12, Gordeev 3 1-2 7, F. Molodih 2 4-4 9, J. Fefelov 7 1-2 22, Kalugin 0 0-2 0. Totals — 17 10-15 54.

3-point goals — Wasilla Lake 4 (Neufeld 2, Auldridge, Offord); Nikolaevsk 10 (J. Fefelov 7, N. Fefelov 2, F. Molodih). Team fouls — Wasilla Lake 12, Nikolaevsk 7. Fouled out — none.

 

Warriors 61, Sea Otters 46

Seldovia 14 7 19 6 —46

Nikolaevsk 15 15 13 18 —61

SELDOVIA (46) — Waterbury 1 0-0 3, Botero 2 0-0 4, Collier 8 2-2 23, Philpot 5 4-6 15, Swearingen 0 0-0 0, Stanish 0 1-4 1. Totals — 16 7-12 46.

NIKOLAEVSK (61) — K. Molodih 2 2-2 7, G. Trail 1 0-0 2, N. Fefelov 2 3-4 8 Gordeev 4 3-7 13, F. Molodih 8 6-10 23, J. Fefelov 3 0-1 8, Kalugin 0 0-0 0. Totals — 20 14-24 61.

3-point goals — Seldovia 7 (Collier 5, Waterbury, Philpot); Nikolaesk 7 (J. Fefelov 2, Gordeev 2, F. Molodih, N. Fefelov, K. Molodih). Team fouls — Seldovia 20, Nikolaevsk 10. Fouled out — Stanish.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Ninilchik guard Pat Brandt takes a shot over a crowd of Seldovia defenders in Friday night's Peninsula Conference championship game at Homer High School.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Ninilchik guard Pat Brandt takes a shot over a crowd of Seldovia defenders in Friday night’s Peninsula Conference championship game at Homer High School.

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