The Mariners defeated the Seward Seahawks on home turf last Saturday, boosting the boys to a third place conference ranking in basketball and the girls to fourth in the final countdown to Regions.
It was the Lady Mariners’ first victory over the Seahawks this season, having lost to the team by four points twice before. The contest started off strong for Seward, who racked up nine points to Homer’s zero in the first few minutes of play. Junior Kayla Stafford landed the first shot for the Mariners, followed by two more from junior Madison Akers, ending the first quarter 9-6 in the Seahawks’ favor.
Seward’s momentum continued into the second quarter, as they beat the Mariners to their own offensive rebounds. With five minutes left in the first half, junior Aurora Waclawski stole the ball away from the Seahawks and assisted Akers in a shot that tied the score at 13-13. The remainder of the quarter saw tough defensive action from both teams, resulting in some fierce tumbles for the ball before the whistle announced yet another jump-ball. A three-pointer from Stafford and a sly hook from senior Larson Fellows in the last few minutes of the half brought the score to 25-19, Seward leading, at halftime.
The Lady Mariners have made a habit out of tapping into a late-game energy source, and Saturday’s match was no exception. The team entered the second half with gusto. Akers kicked it off with a shot within the first minute of play, and Stafford followed her lead with two consecutive three-point shots, bringing the Mariners ahead 27-25 with three minutes left in the third quarter. Seward responded to the Mariners’ advance with a three-pointer of their own, and the teams traded the lead until the last 30 seconds of the quarter when Waclawski landed two free-throw shots to tie the score at 31-31 going into the fourth.
The Seahawks held on for the first two minutes of the fourth quarter until a fourth three-point shot from Stafford and a series of successful free throws set the Mariners on a roll to the finish. Homer outscored the Seahawks 22-8 in the last quarter, finishing the game 53-39.
Mariner Head Coach Chad Felice applauded his team’s rallying effort in the second half, attributing the cohesion of his team’s play to the savvy ball movement and court sense of two seniors.
“Shelby (Alexander) and Larson (Fellows) both had great games. … Even though they’re not big scorers, they do a lot of the little things that go unnoticed,” he said.
The Mariner boys began their tight game against the Seahawks with a three-point shot from senior Filip Reutov. Tough defense from both teams kept the score low in the first quarter, the Mariners eking ahead 9-6 at the end of the period. Seward picked up momentum in the second quarter, keeping their defense tight, outscoring the Mariners 11-4.
The Mariners came out of halftime with renewed focus, tighter defense and stronger passes. A breakaway layup from senior Kenneth Schneider brought Homer into the lead three minutes into the period. It was free-throw shots from seniors Sheldon Hutt, Patrick Rainwater and Schneider that held the Mariners’ narrow lead over the Seahawks for the remainder of the third quarter, moving into the fourth up 26-21.
A shot from Hutt pushed the Mariners farther ahead at the beginning of the last period, but the Seahawks gave them a fight to the finish, pulling back within four points with just under three minutes left on the clock. More foul shots from Hutt and Reutov, along with a jump shot from senior Drew Brown kept the Mariners in the lead. With one second left on the clock the Seahawks landed a three-point shot, but it wasn’t enough to pull ahead, and the buzzer announced a 40-36 win for the Mariners.
Mariners Head Coach Nate Creel was pleased with his team’s defensive effort. He had challenged his players to hold the Seahawks under 50 points, and meeting that goal allowed them to move their offense in the second half of the game.
“(The Mariners) held their own, kept their heads patient on offense,” he said. “Our composure has been good. We’re starting to settle down and play basketball.”
This weekend the Mariners are host to Grace, ACS and Houston in three days of round-robin play, their last conference games before Regions. The Mariner boys, currently ranked third, have an eye on advancing their seeding.
“I told the boys, we control our own destiny,” said Creel.
The schedule for this week’s games includes:
Mariner girls vs. Grace, 6:30 p.m.
Mariner boys vs. Grace, 8 p.m.
Mariner girls vs. ACS, 6:30 p.m.
Mariner Homer boys vs. ACS 8 p.m.
Mariner girls vs. Houston 1 p.m.
Mariner boys vs. Houston, 2:30 p.m.
Lindsay Olsen is a freelance writer who lives in Homer.