Nikiski’s Bethany Carstens, Soldotna’s Kianna Holland, Nikiski’s Rylee Jackson and Soldotna’s Danica Schmidt battle for a rebound Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Bethany Carstens, Soldotna’s Kianna Holland, Nikiski’s Rylee Jackson and Soldotna’s Danica Schmidt battle for a rebound Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

SoHi hoops sweep Nikiski

The old saying, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” worked perfectly for the Soldotna boys hoops team Tuesday night.

After scoring just two points in the first quarter of action, the Stars rallied to post a 58-38 victory over Nikiski, returning after halftime to notch 44 points in the second half.

SoHi defended home court with a pair of nonconference, nondivision games against Nikiski, winning the girls game 51-43 before securing the boys win.

Sam McElroy helped spark the Stars offense with 17 points after scoring just two in the first half.

“We just got it turned around,” McElroy said. “We didn’t want to suck like the first half.”

Luke Trammell pumped in 12 points as well for SoHi, including hitting all four free throws in the fourth quarter, and Jersey Truesdell notched eight.

In a defensive first half, Nikiski used a strong inside game to get Ian Johnson buckets, taking a 10-2 lead early in the second quarter and making it to halftime up 16-14. Johnson finished with a team-high 16 points, while Jace Kornstad added 12.

However, the Stars offense finally bloomed in the third quarter. A pair of quick buckets by Eli Sheridan was followed by a steal and layup from Brandon Crowder, who tallied the “and-one” foul shot to put SoHi up 21-18 with 5:22 left in the third.

SoHi head coach Nolan Rose said the first half drought had him more concerned.

“We had two points in the first quarter,” Rose stressed. “We’ve got to change our preparation, from an hour before tipoff to game time, we’ve got to figure out what to do.”

A 3-pointer from Sheridan put SoHi up 26-20, and a steal and layup from Truesdell, combined with the ensuing foul shot, had the Stars ahead 35-24 late in the third.

Johnson cut the gap to 10 with a free throw early in the fourth, but a 9-2 run by SoHi essentially iced the win.

Nikiski head coach Reid Kornstad pointed to the Bulldogs’ inability to deal with the press that Soldotna applied in the third quarter.

“They pressured us and we didn’t respond,” Kornstad said. “We just didn’t match their intensity.”

Rose and McElroy both agreed that the victory was a big confidence booster after being swept in three conference games to Valley opponents at home last weekend.

“It’s always good to get a win,” Rose said, adding that pressuring Nikiski in the second half began with the SoHi offense getting going.

“In order to press a team, you’ve got to make take the ball out of bounds,” Rose said. “If you don’t score, you can’t press.”

In the girls game, Nikiski’s Bethany Carstens netted a game-high 20 points after scoring just two in the first half.

The Nikiski girls had beaten SoHi 51-46 earlier in the season at the Kenai River Challenge tournament. Tuesday’s loss dropped the Bulldogs to 15-3 overall.

Nikiski had been on a hot run, winning last weekend’s Grace Hardwood Classic tournament in Anchorage, defeating Sitka, Mt. Edgecumbe and Barrow along the way, three of the state’s powerhouses.

But Bulldogs head coach Scott Anderson said a slow start hampered Nikiski’s chances against a Class 4A team like SoHi.

“We came out pretty flat,” Anderson said. “You could tell (Soldotna) really wanted this game.”

SoHi head coach Kyle McFall said Nikiski, which has been a bit of a thorn in the Stars’ side in recent meetings, was a team SoHi wanted to beat.

“We just have this mental block against Nikiski,” McFall said. “Kiana (Holland) and Denali (Wurst) did a good job of taking Bethany out of the game.”

Brittani Blossom led SoHi with 18 points, while Aliann Schmidt added 12.

Plus, after an 0-3 weekend at home against Valley competition, McFall said any victory was a relief.

“We just wanted to get back on the winning side of things,” McFall said. “A win against (Nikiski) is good, they’re probably the second-best team in 3A.”

SoHi built up a 26-13 lead by halftime, but Nikiski kept threatening a comeback in the second half with several surges. A triple and a layup by Carstens late in the third cut the gap to 32-24, and a pair of buckets cut the lead to 45-37 with 1:54 to play in the game, but the Stars eventually won out with the foul game.

Nikolaevsk girls 38, CIA 22

The host Warriors put together a strong fourth quarter to finish off the Eagles.

Nikolaevsk led 8-4 after a quarter and 16-9 at halftime. CIA cut the lead to 24-18 after three quarters, but the Warriors finished on a 14-4 kick.

Elizabeth Fefelov paced the Warriors with 16 points, while Markiana Yakunin had 11, Justina Fefelov had six and Kristin Klaich had five.

Nikolaevsk boys 63, CIA 40

The host Warriors notched a Peninsula Conference victory over the Eagles on Tuesday.

Nikolaevsk took control with a 24-4 first quarter advantage.

Kalenik Molodih had 14 points for the Warriors, while Zachary Trail and Michael Trail each had 10 points. Also for Nikolaevsk, Kosta Nikitenko had eight points, Sage Stanish had seven points, JD Mumey had six points, Randy Boquecosa had four points and Isaak Fefelov and Chris Jackson each had two points.

Ninilchik boys 59, Wasilla Lake 49

Garrett Koch poured in 29 points for the host Wolverines as they notched a 59-49 victory over the Rams on Tuesday in Peninsula Conference play.

Tristan White added 17 points for Ninilchik.

The Wolverines led 16-7 after the first quarter and 30-18 at halftime.

For Wasilla Lake, Jaden Kurtz had 17 points, while Jordan Auldridge added 16.

Tuesday girls

Stars 51, Bulldogs 43

Nikiski 11 2 11 19 —43

Soldotna 18 8 8 17 —51

NIKISKI (43) — Jeffries 2 0-0 4, Wik 3 1-1 8, L. Carstens 0 0-0 0, Bostic 1 3-4 5, Johnson 0 1-2 1, B. Carstens 9 0-2 20, Epperheimer 0 0-0 0, Druesdow 1 1-2 3, Jackson 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 6-11 43.

SOLDOTNA (51) — McGillivray 1 0-0 2, Miller 1 2-3 5, Blossom 5 6-7 18, A. Schmidt 4 4-6 12, Leaf 0 0-0 0, Buckbee 0 0-0 0, Holland 2 0-0 4, Wurst 2 0-3 4, Schneider 0 0-0 0, D. Schmidt 2 2-5 6, McDonald 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 14-24 51.

3-point goals — Nikiski 3 (Carstens 2, Wik 1); Soldotna 3 (Blossom 2, Miller 1).

Team fouls — Nikiski 14, Soldotna 10. Fouled out — none.

Tuesday boys

Stars 58, Bulldogs 38

Nikiski 7 9 11 11 —38

Soldotna 2 12 24 20 —58

NIKISKI (38) — Johnson 7 2-5 16, Weathers 1 0-0 2, Ellis 1 0-0 2, Kornstad 5 0-0 12, T. Litke 0 1-2 1, Handley 2 1-2 5, N. Litke 0 0-0 0, Mysing 0 0-0 0, DeSiena 0 0-0 0, Bridges 0 0-0 0, Eiter 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 4-9 38.

SOLDOTNA (58) — Truesdell 3 2-3 8, Trammell 3 4-4 12, Spence 2 0-0 4, Miller 0 0-0 0, Sheridan 3 0-1 7, Crowder 1 1-1 3, Tuisaula 0 1-2 1, Michael 3 0-0 6, McElroy 7 3-5 17, Chumley 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 11-16 58.

3-point goals — Nikiski 2 (Kornstad 2); Soldotna 3 (Trammell 2, Sheridan 1).

Team fouls — Nikiski 13, Soldotna 14. Fouled out — Handley.

Wolverines 59, Rams 49

Wasilla Lake 7 11 14 17 — 49

Ninilchik 16 14 18 11 — 59

WASILLA LAKE (49) — Cramer 3 0-0 7, Vinson 0 0-0 0, Dean 0 0-0 0, Kurtz 7 3-6 17, Shepard 1 0-0 2, Auldridge 6 0-0 16, Waddell-Brown 3 0-0 7, Cliver 0 0-0 0. Totals — 20 3-6 49.

NINILCHIK (59) — Nelson 1 2-2 4, Corey 0 0-0 0, Koch 10 6-8 29, Hadro 0 0-0 0, McGinnis 0 0-0 0, White 8 1-4 17, Mumey 0 0-2 0, Clark 4 1-4 9. Totals — 23 10-20 59.

3-point goals — Wasilla Lake 6 (Auldridge 4, Cramer, Waddell-Brown); Ninilchik 3 (Koch 3). Team fouls — Ninilchik 7, Wasilla Lake 15. Fouled out — none.

Nikiski’s Bethany Carstens goes up for a shot against Soldotna’s Aliann Schmidt and Denali Wurst on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Bethany Carstens goes up for a shot against Soldotna’s Aliann Schmidt and Denali Wurst on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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