Despite a Herculean effort by senior Kalenik Molodih, the Nikolaevsk boys could not slay the dragon again at the Class 1A state tournament.
Nikolaevsk lost 56-42 to the Nunamiut Amaguqs in a state quarterfinal to drop into the fourth-place side of the championship bracket Thursday at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.
Nikolaevsk will begin its fight to the fourth-place game today with an 8 a.m. meeting against Shishmaref, the No. 3 seed.
Molodih, one of three seniors on the team, poured in 30 points in the loss and added 10 rebounds and six steals in a full-game effort. Molodih said Nikolaevsk just ran into a superior team at the big dance.
“We were a little sloppy, the turnovers were very high for us,” Molodih said. “We just got beat by a better team.”
In Wednesday’s opening play-in game, Nikolaevsk toppled the No. 2 seed Kake 46-43, which was the second year in a row the Warriors upset the second-seeded team.
While Molodih did most of the scoring for the Warriors, the Amaguqs were paced by three players in double figures, led by the 18 points from Chase Nay, who also brought down 11 rebounds. Nay converted on 8 of 13 shots inside the arc.
Nunemiut also got 13 from Jacob Ahgook and 11 from Justice Nukapigak.
A day after praising his squad for keeping turnovers down, Nikolaevsk head coach Steve Klaich said 22 turnovers against Nunemiut proved to be costly.
“We had inconsistent play and turnovers,” Klaich said. “We gave up some offensive boards that hurt us, and they were converting points off them.”
The Amaguqa regularly shut down Nikolaevsk’s passing lanes and frustrated the Warriors in transition. After playing and beating Nikolaevsk 54-38 earlier in the season at the Warrior Rumble tournament, Nunemiut head coach Cody Rigney said his squad knew what to expect in game planning, and the only hurdle for the Amaguqs was getting accustomed to the cavernous interior of the Alaska Airlines Center.
“Our shots didn’t always fall because of the depth perception,” Rigney said. “This place is huge compared to our gym.
“But our ball movement and defense is what won it for us.”
Nikolaevsk held its only lead of the game midway through the second quarter, but a pair of offensive surges by Nunemiut put the Warriors in a hole that they could not dig themselves out of. A drive to the rim by Molodih put Nikolaevsk up 15-14 with 5:10 left in the second quarter, but Nunemiut ended the first half on a 15-2 run to take a 29-17 lead. Josh Mekiana sparked the run with two 3-pointers.
Molodih opened the second half with a triple, but Dyrell Lincoln answered for the Amaguqs with a corner 3 of his own. Nunemiut then opened it up with a furious 9-0 run that opened up a 41-23 lead late in the third. Nukapigak had five of those points, including a trey.
By the 3:58 mark of the fourth quarter, Nunemiut led 50-36, but Nikolaevsk would not go quietly. Kosta Nikitenko and Molodih each hit a 3-pointer that quickly brought the gap down to 50-42 with 2:35 to play, but Nay answered with a layup in transition to end the threat.
Nikolaevsk also shot 27 percent from the floor overall, while Nunemiut was 42 percent for the game.
Klaich said it wasn’t long before the postgame talk turned to Friday’s challenge, No. 3 seeded Shishmaref, which lost a nailbiting 66-63 quarterfinal Thursday to Newhalen.
“This game’s over,” Klaich said. “We’re already focused on tomorrow.”
Amaguqs 56, Warriors 42
Nunamiut 11 18 14 13 —56
Nikolaevsk 7 10 9 16 —42
NUNAMIUT (56) — Ahgook 5 1-2 13, Mekiana 3 0-0 8, Gordon 0 0-0 0, Nay 8 2-4 18, Lincoln 2 1-2 6, Sheldon 0 0-0 0, Nukapigak 0 0-0 0, Nukapigak 3 3-4 11, Toopetlook 0 0-0 0, Morry 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 7-12 56.
NIKOLAEVSK (42) — Molodih 10 5-7 30, Stanish 0 0-0 0, Yakunin 0 0-0 0, Kalugin 0 0-0 0, Nikitenko 2 0-0 6, Mumey 2 0-0 4, Trail 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 5-7 42.
3-point goals — Nunamiut 7 (Ahgook 2, Mekiana 2, Nukapigak 2, Lincoln 1); Nikolaevsk 7 (Molodih 5, Nikitenko 2).