Editor’s note: This story has been updated to note that team manager Jaron Morris also was honored at the Senior Night games.
The Homer Mariners basketball teams enjoyed a winning streak this past weekend, defeating Houston in a Southcentral Conference game Thursday, March 1 and shooting their way to victory during their Friday, March 2 Senior Night games against Seward.
On Thursday, the Homer girls beat Houston 45-20, while the boys came out 46-30 over the Hawks. Seniors Charles Rohr and Jordan Beachy led the boys team with 13 points each, and senior Joel Carroll contributed 12 points.
For the girls, Kailee Veldstra led the team with 15 points, followed by Anna Godfrey with 13.
On Friday, emotions and spirits were high when the school’s senior basketball players took to the court for their very last home game of the season. They were Alissa Cole, Maggie Box, Beachy, Rohr, Carroll, Jay-Mason Davis and Koby Etzwiler. Each senior was honored with a ceremony and gift before their start of their respective game. Also honored was manager Jaron Morris.
Against Seward, the girls led the Seahawks 29-12 at the half, and kept up that momentum to win 52-22. Cole contributed a three-point goal, and led the team with 20 points. Rylee Doughty followed with 11, Anna Godfrey contributed six points, and Rylyn Todd had five.
For the boys, who trounced Seward 70-38, Etzwiler led with 24 points. He was follwed by Japheth McGhee with 12 points, Beachy with 11 and Carroll with 10. Etzwiler also notched six three-pointers.
Both head coaches for the teams said their players have come a long way this season. The night was especially sweet for their seniors.
“It just hasn’t hit me yet,” said Cole.
To her, Friday’s battle was just another game during which the team had to do its best.
“This isn’t the end of the road,” she said. “We have three more games and we’ve just got to keep playing as a team.”
She said the team has had its ups and downs this year, but that the players started to come together to play a more cohesive game toward the end of the season.
“There was all the emotions and sadness,” Box said. “It’s my last time playing on my home court, but I had so much fun and I’m really proud of my teammates.”
Chad Felice, head coach for the girls’ team, said his players have been putting in their work during practice and that it’s really shown in the last three games they’ve played, especially.
“I think … judging from the beginning of the year to now, like, anybody who’s watched, even if you’re a casual fan, can just see the improvement that the girls have been doing,” he said.
In addition to just getting more comfortable with each other on the court, Felice said building confidence has been a huge thing for the team.
At the beginning of the season, boys’ coach Weston Carroll had high hopes for his team. He said they had a strong roster with five experienced seniors and that he thought they stood a good chance in the Southcentral Conference this year.
Now that the season is wearing down, Carroll said the team has performed the way most people thought it would.
“With the exception of the Nikiski game on Tuesday, we’ve kind of won all the games that people predicted we would have won,” he said. “We’ve had some close ones that … probably would have been nice to have won, but yeah, we’re kind of right there in third place in the region.”
Of Friday’s Senior Night game, Carroll said the emotions and energy brought by the crowd could have helped the players, but that they relied on the concepts they’ve been honing all year to win the game.
“I think that they played with confidence and they played with energy and they played with great teamwork,” Carroll said. “I think those are kind of the things that are kind of the key ingredients to helping us play successfully.”
Etzwiler also reflected on his last time playing a home game as a Homer Mariner.
“It was such an amazing feeling to have the crowd out here tonight just cheering for us and supporting us,” he said. “It felt like the whole town was there. … We played so well together. It was truly an amazing feeling. Of course I’m heartbroken not to get to play on this court again, but, you know, I would not want to go out another way because that was — that was an incredible game.”
Both basketball teams will compete this weekend, starting today, in the Conference Championships at Colony High School. For full results from last weekend’s games, see the weekly sports highlights.