Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Soldotna guard Kendra Brush shoots against Nikiski defender Hallie Riddall (10) Thursday at Nikiski High School.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Soldotna guard Kendra Brush shoots against Nikiski defender Hallie Riddall (10) Thursday at Nikiski High School.

SoHi cagers sweep Nikiski in close games

A late surge propelled the Soldotna boys to a 75-66 nonconference victory over Nikiski on Thursday night at Nikiski High School, and the timing couldn’t have been better.

With Northern Lights Conference opponent Palmer visiting SoHi today, the Stars were looking for a victory to inject some energy into their game, and after a big win over NLC rival Colony last Saturday, another triumph was important, even if it didn’t affect the conference standings or 4A Winning Percentage Index.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a scrimmage, we want to win,” said Soldotna head coach Mark Tuter.

The Stars got it done by working down low with their big men, as the 6-foot-5 Griffin Casey and 6-4 Derek Evans maintained their height advantage over the speedy and agile Bulldogs.

“Our guards set us up well and we were able to pound the inside,” Evans said. “Nikiski played hard though, I think some of those guys could bench press me.”

Evans led SoHi with 20 points, while Timmy Smithwick chipped in 19 by going 9 for 10 from the foul line. Casey notched 13 points.

Nikiski hit eight 3-pointers, and were led by Hunter Holloway’s 17 points. Holloway notched three 3s.

Nikiski coach Reid Kornstad said it was tough seeing his Bulldogs lose another close game. Nikiski has lost four of its last six games after starting the season 12-2, and three of those recent losses have been games that the Bulldogs have challenged until the very end, including a 71-69 loss to ACS on Saturday.

“It hurts to lose,” Kornstad said. “We’ve been working really hard, and this doesn’t feel good.”

The win lifted Soldotna to 10-11 overall, while Nikiski slipped to 14-6 overall.

Tuter said the nonconference game presented both teams an opportunity to improve weaknesses. For SoHi, that meant getting better at guarding the outside shots, as Cade Anderson, Sam Tauriainen and Holloway all threatened from deep throughout the game.

Following a close first half that saw SoHi leading 39-33 at the break, the Bulldogs executed their typical fast-paced offense in the third quarter, outscoring the Stars 21-16. A corner 3 by Anderson tied the game at 41 apiece early in the quarter, than a trey by Nathan Carstens with 3:43 to play gave Nikiski a 48-46 lead. A floater by Anderson put the home team up 52-48 with 2:41 to go in the third, but SoHi clawed back.

A pair of made free throws by Evans left SoHi leading 55-54 at the end of the third quarter. Buckets by Ian Johnson and Tauriainen put Nikiski back into the lead early in the fourth quarter, and with 4:54 left in the game, the Bulldogs led 60-57.

From there, the Stars seized control. Smithwick notched two foul shots to close the gap, and Evans drove the lane for the go-ahead layup with 3:46 to play, putting SoHi ahead 61-60. A transition layup by Smithwick and a shot by Casey built the advantage to six points with 2:47 left.

Smithwick and Dylan Kuntz helped ice the win in the final 67 seconds with free throws. Overall, Soldotna outscored Nikiski 20-12 in the final quarter.

“We’re young but we’re learning all the time to get better,” Tuter said.

Kornstad said turnovers and shot selection in the fourth quarter doomed Nikiski’s chances.

“We need to play a full 32-minute game, and that hasn’t happened much recently,” said Kornstad.

Soldotna girls 41, Nikiski 34

The Stars ended on a 16-2 run to clinch the nonconference victory Thursday over the Bulldogs.

SoHi boosted its overall mark 8-15, while Nikiski dropped to 9-9 overall.

With nothing but pride on the line, SoHi coach Kyle McFall said Thursday’s contest was a great opportunity to delve into the Stars’ weaknesses, and winning the game showed him that the team has come a long way since November.

“It shows huge growth on their part,” McFall said. “We’ve had games like that before that we haven’t closed out, but our second group came in tonight and got us going.”

The late spurt was indeed sparked by a few of SoHi’s bench players, including the sister duo of Danica and Aliann Schmidt, who managed to cause a few Nikiski turnovers in the late minutes to ice the win.

“Their length and instincts playing the game are what helped us,” McFall said. “They’ve gone to comp programs and camps and it’s helped us.”

All 10 Soldotna players that got game time scored, led by Lindsey Wong with nine points. Melia Miller chipped in seven and both Schmidt sisters had five.

Avery Kornstad led Nikiski with 13 points.

“We needed to take better care of the ball,” said Nikiski coach Scott Anderson. “We started the fourth quarter with 32 (points) and ended with 34. You can’t win with only two points.”

Nikiski led 19-12 at the half, thanks to some big 3-pointers by Kornstad and Arianna Parrish, and the Bulldogs extended the lead to 24-12 early in the third quarter.

However, SoHi clawed back to 32-25 at the end of the third quarter.

A layup directly off an inbounds pass under the basket by Claire McElroy cut Nikiski’s lead to 32-30, and a slick turnaround jumpshot by Wong tied the game with 3:55 to go.

Aliann Schmidt then put SoHi ahead with 2:20 left on a free throw, and another foul shot by Kendra Brush with 47 seconds remaining iced the game at 36-32.

Ninilchik girls 71, CIA 12

The host Wolverines rolled to a 71-12 Peninsula Conference victory Thursday.

DeeAnn White led the way for Ninilchik with 25 points, while Krista Sinclair pitched in with 11.

Ninilchik boys 71, Wasilla Lake 47

The host Wolverines gradually pulled away from the Rams for a 71-47 Peninsula Conference victory Thursday.

Tyler Presley and Austin White each had 19 points to lead the Wolverines, while Dalton Geppert added 15.

Nikolaevsk boys 72, Nanwalek 27

The host Warriors cruised to a Peninsula Conference victory over the Eagles on Thursday.

Nikit Fefelov led a balanced attack for the Warriors with 11 points, while Kalenik Molodih and Michael Trail each pitched in 10. For Nanwalek, Marcus Wilson had 14 points.

 

Thursday girls

Stars 41, Bulldogs 34

Soldotna 8 4 13 16 —41

Nikiski 6 13 13 2 —34

SOLDOTNA (41) — Nelson 1 2-4 4, A. Schmidt 2 1-2 5, Wong 3 3-4 9, Blossom 1 0-0 2, Brush 0 1-2 1, McElroy 2 0-0 4, D. Schmidt 1 3-4 5, Tuisaula 0 2-2 2, Kindred 1 0-0 2. Totals 14 12-18 41.

NIKISKI (34) — Wik 0 0-0 0, Riddall 2 2-6 6, Vollertsen 0 2-2 2, Pitt 2 0-0 4, Kornstad 4 2-2 13, Clark 0 1-3 1, Parrish 3 1-1 8, Jackson 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 8-14 34.

3-point goals — Soldotna 1 (Miller); Nikiski 4 (Kornstad 3, Parrish 1).

Team fouls — Soldotna 12; Nikiski 12. Fouled out — Riddall, Parrish.

 

Wolverines 71, Eagles 12

CIA 2 4 2 4 —12

Ninilchik 20 20 19 12 —71

COOK INLET ACADEMY (12) — Hammond 0 0-0 0, Erickson 0 0-0 0, Carey 1 0-0 2, Cizek 1 2-3 4, McGahan 2 0-0 4, Warren 1 0-0 2. Totals — 5 2-3 12.

NINILCHIK (71) — Delgado 4 0-0 8, Appelhanz 2 1-2 5, Sinclair 5 0-0 11, Goins 4 0-0 9, White 10 3-4 25, Finney 2 0-0 4, Clark 2 0-0 4, Zimmerman 2 0-0 5. Totals — 31 4-6 71.

3-point goals — Ninilchik (White 2, Goins, Zimmerman, Sinclair). Team fouls — CIA 4, Ninilchik 4. Fouled out — none.

 

Thursday boys

Stars 75, Bulldogs 66

Soldotna 20 19 16 20 —75

Nikiski 20 13 21 12 —66

SOLDOTNA (75) — Kuntz 3 2-2 9, Sheridan 0 2-2 2, Casey 5 3-4 13, Spence 2 4-4 8, Dickson 2 0-0 4, Smithwick 4 9-10 19, Evans 8 4-5 20. Totals 24 24-27 75.

NIKISKI (66) — I. Johnson 4 2-2 10, Anderson 3 0-0 8, L. Johnson 3 2-2 8, Holloway 7 0-1 17, Tauriainen 3 0-0 8, Carstens 2 4-4 9, Pamplin 3 0-0 6. Totals 25 8-9 66.

3-point goals — Soldotna 3 (Smithwick 2, Kuntz 1); Nikiski 8 (Holloway 3, Anderson 2, Tauriainen 2, Carstens 1).

Team fouls — Soldotna 13; Nikiski 17. Fouled out — L. Johnson.

 

Warriors 72, Eagles 27

Nanwalek 3 16 1 7 —27

Nikolaevsk 24 12 8 28 —72

NANWALEK (27) — Wilson 5 0-0 14, Jimmy 1 0-0 2, Huntsman 3 2-4 8, Ukatish 1 1-2 3, Evans 0 0-0 0. Totals — 10 3-6 27.

NIKOLAEVSK (72) — Boquecosa 1 0-0 2, K. Molodih 4 1-1 10, Jones 3 0-0 6, G. Trail 4 0-0 8, Whaley 3 0-1 7, Yakunin 1 0-0 2, N. Fefelov 5 0-0 11, Gordeev 1 0-0 2, F. Molodih 3 0-0 6, J. Fefelov 4 0-0 8, M. Trail 5 0-0 10. Totals — 34 1-2 72.

3-point goals — Nanwalek 4 (Wilson 4); Nikolaevsk 3 (K. Molodih, Whaley, N. Fefelov). Team fouls — Nanwalek 3, Nikolaevsk 6. Fouled out — none.

 

Wolverines 71, Rams 47

Wasilla Lake 14 14 8 11 —47

Ninilchik 18 23 17 13 —71

WASILLA LAKE (47) — Huber 2 1-3 5, Stiner 3 0-0 8, J. Willson 2 0-0 4, Keena 0 0-0 0, Auldridge 4 0-0 9. Neufeld 6 0-0 13, Offord 3 1-2 8, Wen 0 0-0 0, D. Willson 0 0-0 0. Totals — 20 2-5 47.

NINILCHIK (71) — A. Koch 0 0-0 0, Appelhanz 0 0-0 0, Presley 7 3-4 19, Geppert 5 2-2 15, Brandt 4 1-9 9, Bartolowits 2 0-0 6, Mumey 1 0-1 3, White 7 4-8 19, Clark 0 0-0 0. Totals — 26 10-24 71.

3-point goals — Wasilla Lake 5 (Stiner 2, Auldridge, Neufeld, Offord); Ninilchik 9 (Geppert 3, Presley 2, Bartolowits 2, Mumey, White). Team fouls — Wasilla Lake 18, Ninilchik 14. Fouled out — J. Willson, Offord.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Nikiski guard Arianna Parrish takes the ball up court with Soldotna's Daisy Nelson in tow Thursday at Nikiski High School.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Nikiski guard Arianna Parrish takes the ball up court with Soldotna’s Daisy Nelson in tow Thursday at Nikiski High School.

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