The Mariners girls basketball team scored a nonconference win over the Kenai Kardinals Tuesday evening, led by the 19 points by senior Madison Akers.
Kenai junior Lara Creighton matched that with 19 points of her own in the Kardinals loss, which dropped them to 1-7 overall for the season. Homer moved to 3-1 overall.
The final score was Homer girls 45, Kenai 35.
On the boys side, the Kardinals tallied 26 points in the second quarter to pull away for a 71-33 nonconference victory over the Mariners.
After giving up 33 points in the first half, the Kenai girls clamped down on defense and allowed only 12 the rest of the way. Homer Coach Chad Felice recognized that as well.
“(Kenai) picked us up well in the second half, and I think part of that was because we started forcing things,” Felice said. “We began getting caught in their press and that hurt us.”
Senior guard Kayla Stafford hit four 3s in the first half to notch 14 points total for Homer, which streaked out to an 18-4 lead after the first quarter.
The second period of play began playing out with a pattern. The Kards continually cut to the rim for layups, most successfully by Creighton and junior teammate Abby Beck, but each bucket was nullified by potent long-range triples from Stafford.
Homer led 33-16 at halftime, but the Kards employed a frenzied press in the second half that helped them slice into the lead.
Alexis Baker got help on a Homer turnover that turned into a breakaway, driving to the rim for the bucket with 3:20 to go in the third to reduce the deficit to 35-24.
Kenai Coach Cary Calvert said when his Kardinals are able to rotate better in the system, they are able to put together sustained runs, but that is something with which the team is having trouble. Additionally, Kenai went 5 for 16 from the free-throw line.
“Homer’s penetration to the rim hurt us,” Calvert said. “They’re a poised team, and they understand what they want.”
Calvert said Creighton’s performance spurred the team to keep pushing in the second half. Creighton also grabbed nine rebounds in the loss.
“Lara played incredibly well,” he said. “She’s growing up before our eyes.”
A putback layup by Creighton with 2:56 to go in the game reduced Homer’s lead to single digits, 40-31, and another basket on a rebound with 1:08 to play left Kenai looking at a 41-33 deficit.
However, following a Homer timeout, Stafford caught an inbounds pass from Akers and quickly found room for a layup that put Homer up by 10 to ice the game.
Kenai boys 71, Homer boys 33
Twelve different players scored for Kenai in a balanced offensive effort, led by senior forward Garrett Fitt with 12 points. Senior guard Keith Ivy notched 10 points, sophomore Luke Beiser had eight and junior Josh Jackman had seven.
Senior center Johann Kallelid scored eight points to lead Homer, while sophomore guards Koby Etzwiler and Jordan Beachy notched seven each.
Kenai improved to 4-1 overall with the win, while Homer dropped to 0-4.
The Mariners used post skills and ball movement to notch a first quarter in which Homer went mostly shot for shot with Kenai and ended with the Kards leading by just 14-9.
It was an opening eight minutes that had Kenai Coach Ken Felchle thinking back to two weeks previous, to an overtime game against Nikiski — another 3A opponent — that Kenai won 88-85.
“Give credit to Homer, they came ready to play,” Felchle said. “It was like the Nikiski game again.”
Felchle added that in the past three years, Homer has played Kenai to a 2-1 advantage, so the Kards also had something to prove.
“I told them to just keep playing hard,” he said.
Ultimately, both Felchle and Homer Coach Weston Carroll agreed that the Mariners simply ran out of gas.
“Once we started getting tired we started making mental mistakes,” Carroll said about his squad. “We went to a zone (defense) at one point and they just started getting outside and getting shots.”
Ivy swished a triple one minute into the second quarter, then Fitt caught the ball in transition on the next possession and slammed home the dunk to kick-start the Kenai run and forge a 10-point lead.
From there, the Kards spent the final six minutes of the first half on a 19-4 scoring run, and Kenai led 40-17 at halftime. When perimeter shooting wasn’t working, Kenai began getting transition buckets on turnovers by the tired Mariners. In one particular span of 1:18, Kenai scored seven unanswered points midway through the quarter to push the lead to 32-15.
The Kards put together a similar offensive stretch in the third quarter, scoring 11 straight points in a span of 2:36 to push the lead to 57-21 late in the frame.
The run included another 3 by Ivy and another transition dunk by Fitt, this time on a rebound following a missed driving layup by Conner Johnson. Kenai led 59-24 after three quarters.
Joey Klecka is a Peninsula Clarion reporter.
Mariners 45, Kardinals 35
Homer18 156 6—45
Kenai4 1210 9—35
HOMER (45) — Todd 1 0-0 2, Reutov 2 0-0 4, Cleary 0 0-0 0, Kuhns 0 0-0 0, Draves 1 2-4 4, Akers 8 3-4 19, Cole 0 0-0 0, Waclawski 0 0-0 0, Stafford 5 0-0 14, Kann 0 2-2 2. Totals 17 7-10 45.
3-point shots — Kenai 0; Homer 4 (Stafford).
Team fouls — Kenai 13; Homer 15.
Fouled out — Reutov.
Kardinals 71, Mariners 33
Homer9 8 7 9— 33
Kenai14 26 19 12— 71
HOMER (33) — Ravin 0 0-0 0, Rohr 2 1-2 5, Etzwiler 2 2-2 7, Sumption 0 0-0 0, Beachy 3 0-0 7, Ellison 3 0-0 6, Kallelid 4 0-0 8, Carroll 0 0-0 0, Cortez 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 3-4 33.
3-point shots — Kenai 4 (Ivy 2, Vest 1, Tr. Landry 1); Homer 2 (Etzwiler 1, Beachy 1).
Team fouls — Kenai 11; Homer 9.
Fouled out — none.