The Kenai girls basketball team won their senior night conference matchup against Homer on Saturday, 43-34, putting the Kards at 4-2 in the Peninsula Conference and 13-6 overall, while Homer is 2-3 and 7-8.
The Kenai boys fell to Homer on Saturday, 52-51, putting them at 3-3 in the league and 6-12 overall, while Homer is 3-2 in the league and 9-8 overall.
Jeff Swick, the Kardinals girls head coach, said senior night made the victory sweeter.
“On a senior night you always want to win,” he said. “The girls did a really great job of sticking with the whole four quarters and just keep(ing) the intensity level up.”
He said the Kardinals play better when they’re in sync with each other.
“When we play as a team we play our best,” Swick said. “I think we had more of a full game of that, the whole four quarters playing as a team.
The girls teams played evenly throughout the game. Homer led 7-6 at the end of the first quarter and Kenai came back to get up, 17-15, at the half. The teams were tied at 25-25 at the end of the third quarter.
Homer girls head coach Chad Felice said he was proud of the level of play during Saturday’s game, and that now the Mariners just need to work on pulling it all together in the last quarter.
“It was a good game. I’m proud of the way the girls played. They battled hard,” he said. “And yeah, we were right there. I mean it was one or two things bounce a different way (and) it could be a different story.”
He said standouts on Saturday included senior Kaylin Anderson, senior Sophie Ellison, senior Olivia Glasman, and junior Bethany Engebresten.
Sophomore Emma Beck was the top scorer for Kenai with over half the team’s buckets. She scored 24 points. Junior Malerie Nunn and senior Erin Koziczkowski had eight points each, and senior Logan Satathite had 3 points for the Kardinals.
Kenai recognized its senior basketball players Saturday. They are Koziczkowski, Satathite, Amber Nash and Denali Bernard.
Anderson led Homer with 14 points. Ellison had seven, senior Mel Morris and senior Delilah Harris had six each, and Glasman had a point for the Mariners.
Homer boys 52, Kenai 51
The Kenai boys lost a nail biter senior night game to the visiting Homer on Saturday afternoon.
Homer led by a fair margin early — up 15-0 at one point in the first quarter. Kenai fought back, but the Mariners still led 16-7 at the end of the first quarter and 33-21 at the half. Both teams played aggressively, diving on the floor for loose balls and moving the basketball quickly on offense.
In the third quarter, the Kardinals inched their way up even more, attempting to close the gap. Homer still led 43-37 at the end of the third.
In the fourth, Kenai came out and scored back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game, 43-43, only a few minutes into the last quarter. The teams went back and forth for the remainder of the game, and Kenai had a long offensive possession at the end when they were down 49-52, trying to hit a 3-point shot. With a few seconds left, they scored a regular bucket, but it wasn’t enough to lift them to tie with the Mariners.
Kenai head coach Nolan Rose said it was tough to come back from that early deficit.
“We spotted a 15-0 start to the game, and that’s always going to be a really difficult hill to climb,” he said. “We needed Homer to make some mistakes and maybe miss a shot that they made or things like that.”
Even so, he said he was impressed by Kenai’s perseverance.
“I’m proud of our kids’ effort,” Rose said. “To come back and give ourselves a chance to win the game, I think that was a really cool thing for us.”
Weston Carroll, Homer’s head coach, said he was proud of the Mariners’ resilience.
“When they kind of had the little comeback around, I think that our guys kind of pulled together and kind of made a commitment to each other that they were going to try and do what it takes to pull off the win on that one,” Carroll said.
He said the team’s defense helped lift the Mariners above Kenai.
“I think that the defensive effort was kind of more of a group effort,” Carroll said.
Homer junior Carter Tennison led the Mariners with 22 points. Junior Peyton Edens scored 14, senior Tim Hatfield and senior Noah Irons had six each, and senior Braden Huffman had four points for Homer.
Kenai junior Jakob Kvasnikoff was the top scorer with 17 points for the Kardinals. Junior Wade James had 13, senior Eli McCubbins and junior Bridger Beck had eight each, and freshman Caleb Litke scored five for Kenai.
Kenai’s seniors recognized Saturday were McCubbins, Joseph Hamilton, Samuel Baisden, Hayden Hanson and Griffin Gray.