By JEFF HELMINIAK
The Kenai Central and Homer girls basketball teams finished their seasons with consolation wins in the Class 3A state tournament Friday at Colony High School.
Normally, the two would have played in the fourth-place game, but there is no third- or fourth-place game at a state tournament altered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Homer coach Chad Felice and Kenai coach Jeff Swick were happy to call the season good after the Friday wins. Because competition was limited to fellow peninsula teams for most of the season, the Kards and Mariners have already played five times, with Homer winning four.
“For what, a sixth time this year?” Felice said when asked if he would have liked to play the game. “There would have been no worrying about game plans. I could have coached Kenai and Jeff could have coached my girls.”
Kenai girls 43, Nome 29
The Kardinals finished with an 8-13 record after the triumph over the Nanooks in the consolation game.
Swick said it was a great way for his team to end the season, particularly seniors Taylor Pierce and Michal Keyes. The Kenai coach said that with the delayed start of the season, he didn’t even think there would be a state tournament.
“For those seniors to have the opportunity to finish out a complete season, it was really great for them,” Swick said. “That was the main focus before the game, for the seniors to go out on a high note.”
Keyes had seven points, while Swick said Pierce was locked in on defense. He said both played one of the better games of their career.
The Kards led 10-7 after a quarter and 19-11 at the half. By the end of the third quarter, the lead was 32-15.
Swick said the Kards grew the lead by getting the ball to post players Erin Koziczkowski, who had eight points, and Emma Beck, who had 13 points. Swick also said Amber Nash played well near the basket.
With the post established, Swick said opportunities became available for everybody. Eight of Kenai’s 10 players scored.
“When everybody contributes, that’s when we are at our best,” Swick said.
On defense, Swick said Kenai’s intensity was able to hold down the Nanooks most of the game. Swick said Logan Satathite, who had three points, was the player of the game. He said that award was deserved because Satathite put aside scoring to contribute in so many ways that don’t show up in the boxscore.
While the game was good for the seniors, Swick said the tournament was equally good for the rest of the team.
“They’re such a good group and they’re all excited about next year,” Swick said. “Every one that is coming back said they are going to be working out all summer.”
Homer girls 60, Hutchison 20
The Mariners cruised past the Hawks in consolation play to finish at 12-9 overall.
Homer led 16-4 after the first period and did not look back from there.
“It was an awesome way to end the season,” Felice said. “They moved the ball really well — the best I’ve seen them move the ball all year.”
The coach said Homer also played a great game on defense.
Seniors Laura Inama, Hannah Hatfield and Tonda Smude went out in style. Inama had 20 points, Smude had nine and Hatfield added seven. Felice said Smude rebounded well and Hatfield played strong defense while also running the offense.
“I was so happy for them,” Felice said. “Those three seniors are going to be missed. I had a great ride with them. I enjoyed watching them grow up and mature, and I’m excited to see what they do in the future.”
Junior Delilah Harris also had nine points for Homer, leading a strong junior class. Junior Sailey Rhodes ran the offense when Hatfield was out and also provided strong defense.
“These young girls got a little taste of what happens at state,” Felice said. “Now they know what they have to do if they want to get back here.”
State champions are Monroe Catholic with a 67-52 victory over Anchorage Christian Schools for 3A boys, ACS with a 75-26 victory over Sitka for 3A girls, Bartlett with a 47-46 victory over Lathrop for 4A girls and East Anchorage with an 82-56 victory over Chugiak for 4A boys.
Kardinals 43, Nanooks 29
Kenai 10 9 13 11 —43
Nome 7 4 4 14 —29
NOME (29) — Witrosky 8, Ustaszewski 3, Lie 2, Fry 0, Medlin 8, Tobuk 8, Miller 0.
KENAI CENTRAL (43) — Pierce 0, Nunn 2, Keyes 7, Koziczkowski 8, Wilson 2, Satathite 3, Nash 6, McCana 2, Bernard 0, Beck 13.
Mariners 60, Hawks 20
Hutchison 4 7 3 6 —20
Homer 16 17 12 15 —60
HOMER (60) — Rhodes 4, Alexson-Walls 1, Harris 9, Anderson 0, M. Reutov 0, Shelby 0, Owens 0, Engebresten 0, Inama 20, Stonorov 0, Morris 6, Ellison 4, Hatfield 7, K. Reutov 0, Smude 9.
HUTCHISON (20) — Taylor 6, Leu-Clark 4, Felix 3, Ewan 2, Parker 1, Silas 2, Berg 2.