Soldotna’s Jersey Truesdell races by Colony’s Saaren Wright Friday night at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Jersey Truesdell races by Colony’s Saaren Wright Friday night at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

SoHi girls power way to 1st win over Colony in 5 years, then complete Saturday sweep

A long drought was quenched Friday night for the Soldotna girls basketball program.

The Stars defeated Northern Lights Conference rival Colony for the first time in five years with a 58-51 win at home, giving head coach Kyle McFall and every player their first victory over the Knights in their prep careers.

SoHi did not wait nearly as long for another victory over the Knights, winning 51-46 on Saturday.

In Saturday’s game, Colony had a 14-9 lead after the first quarter and 26-23 lead at halftime. In the third quarter, SoHi was able to open a 40-34 lead and hang on in the fourth quarter.

For Colony, Kali Bull had 14 points, while Hannah Duguid added 11. For the Stars, Brittani Blossom and Danica Schmidt each had 13.

The last time the SoHi girls beat Colony was January 2014, when McFall was still coaching at Skyview High (now middle) School, Doug Blossom was head coach at SoHi and the class of 2019 seniors were in seventh grade.

Leading the charge Friday was junior post Ituau Tuisaula, who returned from a third-quarter lip injury to score 10 points in the fourth in a gritty performance. Tuisaula finished with 15 points, while teammate Brittani Blossom scored a team-high 16 and Aliann Schmidt added 12.

“(Tuisaula) was awesome,” McFall said. “The fact that she came back in, pooling blood, had some big rebounds … it took a ton of heart.”

Tuisaula’s fourth-quarter heroics came after she got elbowed in the mouth in the first couple of possessions in the third quarter, leaving her on the sidelines the rest of the quarter as SoHi staff attended to her bloodied upper lip.

The six-foot Tuisaula returned early in the fourth quarter and immediately made her presence known with a laser assist to Morgan Bouschor for a bucket that cut the Knights’ lead to 42-40.

Tuisaula really made her impact in the final five minutes, scoring six points in an 8-0 SoHi run that helped secure the victory, and ended it with a crucial rebound that helped maintain a two-possession lead.

“We weren’t rushing our offense, we kept our composure,” Tuisaula said about what the Stars did right in the end. “We kept it together.”

Tuisaula said McFall keeps in contact with the team outside of practice with a series of motivational texts meant to inspire confidence and belief. So far it’s been working, as the win also kept SoHi’s undefeated season alive at 10-0 (1-0 conference).

“Way before the game, in practice, coach made sure we knew it’s been five years since SoHi beat Colony,” Tuisaula said. “The one he sent (Friday) was something like, ‘People may say you can’t do it, but we say yes we can’. We believe we’re a good team.”

With the Colony win in their pocket, McFall said, the Stars now can set their sights on toppling the behemoth in the conference, the Wasilla Warriors.

“Getting this win was huge, because there’s always that stigma there that we can’t beat the Valley schools,” McFall said. “We’ve come a long way in the last couple of years, and tonight we executed it perfectly.”

The Stars trailed 30-29 at the half, but Tuisaula’s absence in the third quarter made it tougher for SoHi to mount a challenge, and the Knights capitalized from the perimeter. Senior guard Kali Bull hit a 3-pointer, one of four for her on the night as Bull scored a game-high 20 points for Colony.

With Tuisaula’s return in the fourth quarter, SoHi began finding a groove. Blossom drained a jumper with 6:50 left to tie it at 44-all and Danica Schmidt hit Bull with a huge block on the next Colony possession.

With 4:45 left, Tuisaula tied it at 48 apiece on a layup, then gave SoHi the lead on a free throw with 3:47 remaining. Blossom kept it going with an off-balance jumper with 3:21 to play and Tuisaula was fouled on a baseline drive with 1:59 to go, putting the Stars ahead 54-48 following her free throw.

Colony’s Abby Kenley kept SoHi honest with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 54-51 with 1:39 left, but the Stars broke the Knights press on the ensuing possession and fed Tuisaula for the bucket.

Kalyn McGillivray had a chance to add to the lead with two foul shots and missed both, but Tuisaula was there for the rebound that essentially sealed the win with 39 seconds left.

Colony boys 72, Soldotna 42

The Knights used a second-quarter surge to distance themselves en route to an NLC win Friday night at Soldotna High School.

Sullivan Menard hit five 3s on the way to a game-high 21 points for the Knights, who jumped to 13-2 overall this year (1-1 NLC).

Jersey Truesdell netted 17 points for SoHi (5-5 overall, 0-1 conference) with four treys, and David Michael chipped in 10.

SoHi head coach Nolan Rose said with the Stars competing against a wide variety of schools in different classifications in the early weeks of the season, the Knights were the first true Class 4A competitor that SoHi has seen this year, and the speed of the game caught up them.

“They’re a really good team obviously, one of the top one or two teams in the state, and they have a lot of experience,” Rose said. “This is the first team we’ve seen that has that level of pressure and speed, and we made some uncharacteristic turnovers. If you turn the ball over with a team that talented, it’s going to be tough.”

Hot 3-point shooting in the early going led to SoHi trailing 23-19, but the Knights uncorked a second quarter run that helped build a gap. Following a pair of triples by Ray Chumley and Truesdell, Colony ripped off a 14-0 run to build a 37-19 lead by the late stages of the second quarter.

Menard helped spark the run with a driving layup and 3-point shot, which was followed by a coast-to-coast layup by Jeremiah Hersrud and a triple by Colton Spencer. Colony led 39-22 at halftime.

“The energy got better,” explained Knights head coach Tom Berg. “We rode the bus in and we’ve been on the road all year just about, so we’re used to it. We settled into the second half and our good players executed.”

SoHi desperately tried to keep up in the third quarter, but seemingly every big play was answered by the ferocious Knights press. Mekhai Rich buried a 3 midway through the quarter, but only after Menard had done the same on the previous possession. A jumper by Spencer and a 3-pointer by Menard with two minutes left pushed the lead to 55-32, essentially making the fourth quarter a moot point.

Colony boys 41, Soldotna 34

The Stars were able to keep it closer Saturday, but a strong finish by Colony was the difference.

The Knights led 8-2 after the first quarter and 17-14 at halftime. Soldotna led 26-24 entering the final eight minutes, but the Knights won the stretch run 17-8.

Patrick McMahon had 11 points for the Knights, while Menard pitched in 10. For the Stars, Truesdell had 14.

Friday girls

Stars 58, Knights 51

Colony 20 10 12 9 —51

Soldotna 19 10 9 20 —58

COLONY (51) — Duguid 0, Dunlop 3, Kenley 12, Bull 20, Clarke 2, Sonnenberg 4, Spencer 0, Schwantes 8, Simpson 2.

SOLDOTNA (58) — McGillivray 5, Buckbee 0, Blossom 16, A. Schmidt 12, Bouschor 2, Tuisaula 15, Holland 0, Crosby-Schneider 0, D. Schmidt 8.

3-point FG — Colony 7 (Bull 4, Kenley 2, Dunlop 1); Soldotna 4 (Blossom 2, A. Schmidt 2).

Team fouls — Colony 21; Soldotna 9. Fouled out — none.

Friday boys

Knights 72, Stars 42

Colony 17 22 16 17 —72

Soldotna 11 11 14 6 —42

COLONY (72) — McMahon 14, Dearborn 5, Menard 21, Spencer 14, McPhail 2, Alley 0, White 0, Escobedo 0, Johnson 3, Finley 2, Hersrud 9, Baker 2.

SOLDOTNA (42) — Rich 5, Morrison 4, Hanson 0, Chumley 3, Truesdell 17, Kant 1, Wells 2, Rosin 0, Michael 10, Denna 0.

3-point FG — Colony 10 (Menard 5, Spencer 2, Dearborn 1, Johnson 1, Hersrud 1); Soldotna 6 (Truesdell 4, Chumley 1, Rich 1).

Team fouls — Colony 14; Soldotna 14. Fouled out — none.

Saturday girls

Stars 51, Knights 46

Colony 14 12 8 12 – 46

Soldotna 9 14 17 11 — 51

COLONY (46) — Duguid 11, Dunlop 0, Kenley 3, Bull 14, Clarke 4, Sonnenberg 3, Spencer 5, Schwantes 6, Simpson 0. Totals — 16 8-9 46.

SOLDOTNA (51) — McGillivray 6, Buckbee 0, Blossom 13, A. Schmidt 8, Bouschor 2, Tuisaula 9, Holland 0, Crosby-Schneider 0, D. Schmidt 13. Totals — 16 14-21 51.

3-point goals — Colony 6 (Duguid 3, Kenley, Bull, Spencer); Soldotna 5 (Blossom 3, D. Schmidt 2). Team fouls — Colony 15, Soldotna 8. Fouled out — none.

Saturday boys

Colony 8 9 7 17 — 41

Soldotna 2 12 12 8 — 34

COLONY (41) — McMahon 11, Dearborn 0, Menard 10, Spencer 5, McPhail 2, Hersrud 4, Baker 9. Totals — 14 9-13 41.

SOLDOTNA (34) — Rich 0, Morrison 4, Hanson 0, Chumley 6, Truesdell 14, Kant 3, Michael 7. Totals — 13 1-1 34.

3-point goals — Colony 4 (Menard 2, McMahon, Spencer); Soldotna 7 (Truesdell 4, Chumley 2, Kant). Team fouls — Colony 8, Soldotna 13. Fouled out — none.

Soldotna’s Zach Hanson (10) competes for a rebound Friday night against Colony at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Zach Hanson (10) competes for a rebound Friday night against Colony at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Ituau Tuisaula darts around Colony’s Tori Schwantes Friday night at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Ituau Tuisaula darts around Colony’s Tori Schwantes Friday night at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Danica Schmidt drives for a bucket Friday night against Colony at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Danica Schmidt drives for a bucket Friday night against Colony at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Aliann Schmidt lays in a bucket Friday night over Colony’s Vivian Sonnenberg at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Aliann Schmidt lays in a bucket Friday night over Colony’s Vivian Sonnenberg at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Brittani Blossom (right) drives into the paint Friday night at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Brittani Blossom (right) drives into the paint Friday night at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

More in Sports

Peninsula Oilers second baseman Cole Dawson makes a play Saturday, June 22, 2024, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Saturday: Miners avoid 5-game sweep by topping Oilers

The Mat-Su Miners defeated the Peninsula Oilers 9-4 on Saturday in Alaska… Continue reading

tease
Friday: Oilers make it 4 straight against Miners

The Peninsula Oilers defeated the Mat-Su Miners 5-4 on Friday in Alaska… Continue reading

Mat-Su Miners catcher Blake Balsz forces out Cole Wilson of the Peninsula Oilers on Thursday, June 20, 2024, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Thursday: Oilers take 3rd straight against Miners

The Peninsula Oilers defeated the Mat-Su Miners 2-0 on Thursday in Alaska… Continue reading

Learn to identify the invasive green crab. (Photo provided by NOAA)
Refuge Notebook: Invasive green crab rapid response plan: Just what the doctor ordered

As Alaskans, we all love our coastline. It’s where treasures are found,… Continue reading

Olympic gold medalist Lydia Jacoby waves to the crowd in Seward during her celebratory parade on Thursday, August 5, 2021. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Lydia Jacoby, after surprise Tokyo Olympic gold, misses out on Paris: ‘It hasn’t quite hit me yet’

Veteran swimmers often describe U.S. Olympic trials as the hardest swim meet in the world

Lars Arneson runs to victory and a new event record in the Kenai River Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Arneson, McCabe win at Bird Ridge

Lars Arneson, a 2009 graduate of Cook Inlet Academy, won the Robert… Continue reading

tease
Wednesday: Oilers take 2nd in a row from Miners

The Peninsula Oilers defeated the Mat-Su Miners 4-3 on Wednesday in Alaska… Continue reading

tease
Wednesday: Eagle River sweeps doubleheader from Twins

Host Eagle River swept a doubleheader from the American Legion Post 20… Continue reading

Most Read