Capping off their last home game of the season — and the last home game ever for a handful of seniors — the Homer girls basketball team pulled off a major win against the Nikiski Bulldogs last Friday night at in the Alice Witte Gymnasium.
The Lady Mariners were able to beat the Bulldogs 45-43 in overtime after a tense game ended with a 38-38 score. It’s the first time any of the seniors on the team have been victorious against Nikiski, which means Homer hasn’t won in a matchup against the fellow Southcentral Conference team in at least four years.
The Homer girls pulled out ahead with a 12-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Bulldogs found their stride and led 21-17 after the first half. The Mariners were then able to grab the lead again, ending the third quarter at 31-25 before the game got tied up.
Nikiski had the chance to snag the win when Homer fouled Bailey Epperheimer late in the fourth quarter with the Mariners only up by one point, but Epperheimer made only one of her two free throws, resulting in the 38-38 tie.
For the Mariners, Sailey Rhodes and Laura Inama led in points with 14 each. Kelli Bishop had eight points, Marina Carroll had five and Kaylin Anderson and Hannah Hatfield both had two.
For Nikiski, Lillian Carstens had 16 points, while Kaycee Bostic had 13, Kaitlyn Johnson contributed seven, Bailey Epperheimer had four and Elora Reichert had three.
Homer head coach Chad Felice said the Lady Mariners did a good job of keeping their emotions — which can sometimes get heightened on senior night — in check during the game.
“They played awesome,” he said.
The seniors honored for the girls team were Bishop, Carroll, Rylee Doughty and manager Aspen Walli.
“It feels super awesome,” Doughty said of the senior night victory. “We’re worked really hard the whole entire season and it’s just really awesome that we were able to put four quarters together and come out with a win, especially on senior night with all of our parents and everyone here.”
Bishop said the team had the drive to win this game.
“We really came together in this one,” she said. “We’ve been talking about this game for so long.”
Carroll said the team has had its ups and downs this season, “and to be able to come together in this last home game is just, it’s awesome.”
While the season isn’t over yet, Friday marked the last time the seniors would play a game on their home court.
“It’s been so fun coaching those girls for the last four years,” Felice said.
The Homer boys also snagged a win against Nikiski on Friday, but had an easier time getting there. The Mariners won 67-35. They led Nikiski 16-13 after the first quarter and were able to pull away with a large lead after that.
Scoring for the Mariners were Ethan Anderson with 12 points, Michael Munns with 11, Clayton Beachy with nine, Jonathan Raymond with eight, Eyoab Knapp with seven, Travis Kuhns with six, Josiah Raymond with six, Ty Etzwiler with four and River Mann with two points.
For Nikiski, Noah Litke had 13 points, Austin Stafford had nine, Michael Mysing had eight, Drew Handley had three and Brady Bostic had two.
The senior players honored from the boys team were Kuhns, Anderson, Munns and Jonathan Raymond.
“I think every day we go hard in the practice room, and we bust our butts,” Kuhns said of the team. “We started off very slow and very tough, but we turned our season around and, you know, I couldn’t be any happier to practice with these guys and call them my brothers, my family.”
In Anderson’s words, the victory over Nikiski was “pretty good.”
Munns said the win was a good way to “go out on a good note” in the last home game of the season. He said he hopes the team will finish out the season going strong.
Homer head coach Weston Carroll said praised the group of seniors that started the game for working together.
“They had fun together, they played well together, and I thought they did a great job of playing for their last night on the home floor,” he said. “I was really proud of the way they played.”
Carroll said the four seniors who led the team this season are a pretty quiet group all around. Kuhns and Munns are slightly more vocal and lead the team in that way, he said.
“But Ethan and Jonathan are as hard of workers as you can find, to where they are great leaders in that way,” Carroll said.
Also honored during senior night were the senior members of the cheer squad: Mackenzie Ormond, Shyanne Sallee, Bethany Yungeberg and Audnia Carlson.
Up next, the Homer basketball teams will play two away games in Anchorage this weekend. They face off against Grace Christian High School on Friday and against Anchorage Christian Schools on Saturday.