The Soldotna basketball teams broke out the brooms against Kenai Central for a second time in three days Tuesday with a pair of nonconference victories at Soldotna High School.
The SoHi girls defeated Kenai Central 44-28, then were followed by a 51-34 SoHi boys victory over the Kardinals. Both Stars teams had pulled off wins Saturday at KCHS.
Having already wrapped up their Northern Lights Conference regular season schedule, the Class 4A Stars end the regular season with four straight matchups against Class 3A competition — two against Kenai and one each against Nikiski and Homer — but that doesn’t mean SoHi can skate through to the end.
“They’re not easy,” said boys head coach Nolan Rose. “The idea that 3A teams are country bumpkins doesn’t work.”
In the girls game, SoHi junior Ituau Tuisaula commanded the court with a game-high 18 points and played a big role during a pivotal third-quarter stretch that ultimately helped seal Kenai’s fate.
The win pushed SoHi to its sixth straight win and a 22-2 overall record, while Kenai dropped to 15-9 overall. The SoHi boys moved to 13-9 and Kenai went to 12-11.
Leading 21-13 at halftime, the SoHi girls burst out of the gates in the second half as Tuisaula pumped in three unanswered baskets from the post to give the Stars a 28-15 advantage, but to hear Tuisaula tell it, the night could’ve had more fireworks.
“We know we can do a lot better,” Tuisaula said. “I was getting a little frustrated there, a little out of control. I try not to do it out of frustration.”
Tuisaula’s frustration came from missed shots she took that led to empty possessions, but SoHi head coach Kyle McFall said the defensive pressure by the team more than made up for it.
“If teams single-cover (Tuisaula), she’s going to score on them,” he said. “We had really good moments in the game, but Kenai will throw you off your game, and at times we still had too many turnovers.”
Kenai was led by senior Jaycie Calvert, who scored all 12 of her points on the 3-ball. The Kardinals struggled, however, to get production from their usual suspects, as senior guard Hayley Maw finished with three points and Brooke Satathite managed just one field goal for four points.
“SoHi just offensively challenged us today,” said Kenai head coach Cary Calvert. “They gave us so many different looks. They’re so well-coached, and we couldn’t get into a rhythm.”
Maw and Calvert helped make up lost ground after a slow start for Kenai, which trailed 7-0 early. SoHi’s Brittani Blossom and Tuisuala combined for 15 of Soldotna’s 21 first-half points as the Stars were able to break Kenai’s press, particularly in transition. Blossom ended up with 15 points.
Tuisuala’s eight points in the third quarter played a big role as the Stars outscored the Kards 15-7 to take a 36-20 lead into the fourth. In the final quarter, Blossom connected on two 3-pointers in one minute to pad the lead and ice the win.
Jersey Truesdell once again led the SoHi boys to a win over Kenai, this time doing it with 24 points. Saturday, Truesdell posted 29 against Kenai with five 3s.
Tuesday became Truesday as the SoHi junior sunk four 3s and had nine points during a crucial stretch in the third and fourth quarters when the Stars outscored Kenai 18-5.
“Our defense executed well in the second half,” Rose said. “We were phenomenal on defense.”
Adam Trujillo tallied 12 points to lead Kenai’s attack.
The Kardinals led 18-13 midway through the second quarter as Trujillo and Evan Stockton heated up. Trujillo and Stockton are listed as 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-4, respectively, but flaunted some long range depth by hitting a pair of 3s to put the Kards up five.
However, Truesdell answered with a trio of buckets, including a drive to the post with 1:21 left in the first half to put SoHi ahead. The Stars led 22-19 at the half.
In the third quarter, Trujillo connected on a trey with 3:24 left in the frame to cut Kenai’s deficit to 29-24, but the Stars tightened their grip on defense and held the Kards to five points over the next 8:40 of game time. SoHi streaked out on a 12-0 run in the fourth quarter to help seal the victory.
Stars 44, Kardinals 28
Kenai 3 10 7 8 —28
Soldotna 7 14 15 8 —44
KENAI (28) — Calvert 12, Galloway 0, Hamilton 2, Maw 3, Hanson 2, Streiff 0, L. Satathite 5, Severson 0, B. Satathite 4.
SOLDOTNA (44) — McGillivray 1, Buckbee 0, Blossom 15, A. Schmidt 6, Bouschor 2, Tuisaula 18, Holland 0, Crosby-Schneider 2, D. Schmidt 0.
3-point FG — Kenai 6 (Calvert 4, Maw 1, L. Satathite 1); Soldotna 2 (Blossom 2).
Team fouls — Kenai 12; Soldotna 7. Fouled out — none.
Stars 51, Kardinals 34
Kenai 13 6 8 7 —34
Soldotna 13 9 11 18 —51
KENAI (34) — Dunham 0, Efta 6, Felchle 0, Baker 1, Custodio 0, Bezdecny 5, McEnerney 3, Stockton 5, Trujillo 12, Stafford 0, Pitsch 2, McKibben 0.
SOLDOTNA (51) — Rich 5, Morrison 4, Hanson 2, Chumley 5, Truesdell 24, Kant 6, Wells 0, Rosin 0, Michael 5, Denna 0, Whitaker 0.
3-point FG — Kenai 5 (Trujillo 2, Stockton 1, McEnerney 1, Bezdecny 1); Soldotna 7 (Truesdell 4, Kant 2, Rich 1).
Team fouls — Kenai 13; Soldotna 13. Fouled out — none.