The Ninilchik girls sent out their senior class with victory Saturday at the Class 1A state tournament consolation championship at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.
The Nikolaevsk girls also went out winners Saturday, topping Shishmaref 50-45 in overtime for fourth place in the 1A tourney.
Following a heartbreaking opening day loss to Aniak, Ninilchik won three straight games to claim the consolation prize with a 42-31 victory over Newhalen.
For Alanna Goins, who closed out her high school career on a high note with fellow seniors Krista Sinclair and Jordan Finney, the strong finishing kick was a satisfying way to put a period on four years of hard work.
“It feels great actually,” Goins said. “The three seniors have been working hard for so long, so it feels good to be leaving with a win.”
Goins scored 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting from inside the arc, while freshman DeeAnn White, who was named to the all-tournament team, notched a team-high 16 points. Seniors Jordan Finney and Krista Sinclair scored eight and four points, respectively, in their final games with Ninilchik.
The Ninilchik girls were making their first appearance in the big dance since 2010, meaning it was the first time for this particular group of players.
In Wednesday’s first-round contest against Aniak, Ninilchik was ousted after several shot attempts in the final 30 seconds went wide, leading to a 34-32 loss.
However, it did not end the Wolverines’ season on the spot. The team still had a chance to claim the consolation bracket championship, and three straight wins against Huslia, Manokotak and Newhalen did the trick.
“It was tough to lose the first game, but our goal was to compete, and we wanted to go as far as we could,” Goins said.
The Wolverines started hot with 50 percent shooting in the first half, which helped them to an 11-4 lead after eight minutes. White hit 4 of 6 shots in the first half, while Finney delivered on all three buckets she attempted, leading to a 23-16 halftime advantage.
Sinclair buried a 3-pointer midway through the third quarter and White added another trey with 3:42 to go that put Ninilchik up 30-19, but Newhalen answered back with three straight buckets to cut the lead back down to four points.
That’s when Finney and White began to take over under the rim. A putback layup on a rebound by White pushed the lead back up to 38-29 with 5:34 to go.
Goins said having taller players like Finney and White in the post has given Ninilchik a leg up on opposing teams this season.
“When the seniors were freshmen, we didn’t have players like that to get rebounds and help us like that,” Goins said. “It’s made it easier for us to compete.”
In the final minutes, Ninilchik played the conservation game, using solid ball movement to drain the clock and hold Newhalen to just two points in the fourth quarter.
Nikolaevsk girls 50, Shishmaref 45, OT
The Warriors closed out a fifth straight state tournament appearance with fourth-place honors in a tightly contested overtime battle Saturday morning.
Tied at 44 apiece at the end of regulation, Nikolaevsk clamped down on defense to outscore Shishmaref 6-1 in the overtime period.
Nikolaevsk senior Serafima Kalugin, who was named to the all-tournament team, led the Warriors in her final high school game of her five-year career with 20 points and seven rebounds, and shot 9 of 17 from the floor.
Fellow senior Megan Hickman had 18 points and 10 rebounds while grabbing seven steals in her final game.
After a quick start by Nikolaevsk, the Northern Lights bounced back by outscoring the Warriors 12-6 in the second quarter to grab an 18-16 halftime lead.
In the second half, Nikolaevsk began finding the inside paint with greater ease. After shooting just 25 percent in the first half, the Warriors improved to 56 percent from the floor in the final 16 minutes to force overtime.
The victory capped a state tournament that saw Nikolaevsk survive a first-round date with Newhalen 46-42, but lose a quarterfinal contest to Buckland 37-27. The Warriors finished out the weekend with a 39-31 win over Yakutat and Saturday’s fourth-place triumph over Shishmaref.
The Ninilchik girls received an inspiring performance from senior Jordan Finney to reach the final day of the girls 1A state tournament, defeating Manokotak 44-37.
Finney scored all 17 of her points in the second half to lead the way for Ninilchik and brought down 10 rebounds as well.
“I didn’t want to go home yet,” Finney said after the game. “This is the first time we’ve been to state, and it was super important to win.”
The Wolverines broke open a 30-28 game after three quarters to pull away in the fourth quarter, outscoring Manokotak 14-9 in the final eight minutes. Finney had 10 points herself in the final period.
After Wednesday’s opening day loss to Aniak, it was all Finney and the Wolverines could do to preserve one final chance to play.
“We were pretty bummed the first day, but we knew we had more games to play,” Finney said. “We knew it wasn’t over.”
Olivia Delgado chipped in 12 points for Ninilchik and DeeAnn White also had 12 points.
Early on, it appeared Ninilchik had met its match. The Wolverines had trouble containing Manokotak junior guard Shayla Gloko throughout the game, and Gloko made them pay with 19 points. Gloko took 29 of her team’s 53 field goal attempts.
The Nunaniq led 18-17 at halftime, and Gloko powered her way to a pair of driving layups in the first five minutes of the second half to give Manokotak a 24-19 lead with 3:07 to play.
From there, Finney began to use her size to take control in the paint, starting with an putback layup on an offensive rebound.
A layup by White plus the foul shot with 1:46 left in the third quarter tied things up at 26. On the next Ninilchik possession, Alanna Goins was fouled and gave the Wolverines the lead with the successful conversion.
A jumper by Clarissa Franklin with 57 seconds left in the frame tied the contest again at 28 apiece, but Finney took the ball to the hoop on the other end to give Ninilchik a lead it would never give up.
In the second half, Ninilchik shot 48 percent from the floor.
Nikolaevsk girls 39, Yakutat 31
The Nikolaevsk girls hoops team will be sending out its seniors with one final game.
The Warriors defeated Yakutat Friday afternoon in the Class 1A state fourth-place semifinals at the Alaska Airlines Center to clinch a spot in Saturday’s fourth-place game and ensure one last appearance for the team’s four seniors.
“Basketball is such a life experience and you really learn life skills from it,” said senior Serafima Kalugin, who has been with the Warriors for five seasons. “We’ve learned to deal with pressure, and I think we can win tomorrow to end it.”
Nikolaevsk was handed a 37-27 loss in Thursday’s quarterfinal round by Buckland, giving them their fourth early exit in five straight years at the state tournament.
“Yesterday was such a disappointment, we tried our hardest and left our hearts out there,” Kalugin said.
Nikolaevsk seniors Kalugin and Megan Hickman led the team with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Hickman notched a double-double by bringing down 10 rebounds and Kalugin nearly pulled the trick with nine boards.
The Warriors also got solid performances from Chelsea Johnson, who grabbed nine boards, and Vera Fefelov, who scored eight points.
The Warriors’s game against Shishmaref on Saturday is the last game of Hickman and Kalugin’s high school careers. Also playing in their final game Saturday are be seniors Feodora Mametieff and Nadejda Gordeev.
Nikolaevsk saw early success Friday by jumping out to a 12-4 lead. A baseline jumper by Fefelov kick-started the Warriors in the second quarter, leading to a 11-6 run that ended with a floater by Kalugin. Hickman also contributed with two layups, one coming on a swift steal at midcourt. By halftime, the Warriors led 25-17.
A block by Nadejda Gordeev early in the second half turned into a transition layup by Kalugin on the other end, and Gordeev chipped in a layup herself on the next possession to give Nikolaevsk a 12-point lead.
Yakutat kicked back with a six-point swing that stretched between the third and fourth quarters, leaving the Eagles trailing 32-26, but a corner 3-pointer by Fefelov abruptly ended the momentum with 3:46 left in the game.
Wolverines 44, Nunaniq 37
Warriors 39, Eagles 31
Warriors 50, Northern Lights 45, OT
Wolverines 42, Malamutes 31