On the heels of a fourth-place finish at the Mixed 6 state championship games earlier this month, the Nikolaevsk Warriors are jumping into basketball action with both feet. At the Cook Inlet Classic, held at Cook Inlet Academy in Soldotna, Dec. 19-21, the girls team took first place.
They squeaked by the Cook Inlet Academy Eagles on Thursday with a 27-26 win. They continued their march toward victory Friday, with a 51-7 win over the Ninilchik Wolverines. Saturday, the Warriors secured the championship by defeating Yakutat 31-22.
The Nikolaevsk boys team, coached by Steve Klaich, took a 51-43 loss to the Cook Inlet Academy Eagles on Thursday, scored a 50-21 victory over Wasilla Lake Christian on Friday and suffered a 50-36 loss to Yakutat on Saturday, giving them an overall third-place.
“I think we were pretty fortunate to get that win,” Head Coach Bea Klaich said of the girls’ Thursday win against Cook Inlet. “It was our first game of the year and we were just getting organized.”
In addition to Nikolaevsk, teams playing in the Cook Inlet Classic included the Cook Inlet Academy Eagles, Ninilchik Wolverines, Wasilla Lake Rams and the Yakutat Eagles.
A large contingent of Warriors fans made the trip from Nikolaevsk to Cook Inlet Academy to cheer for the teams.
“I’ll tell you what, everyone had fun,” said Klaich. “There was a great home crowd with a lot of support and a lot of noise in the gym. That’s the best way to play.”
Nikolaevsk scrimmaged with Homer on Monday. They’ll entertain the home crowd back in Nikolaevsk with alumni games Jan. 2. The girls play at 6 p.m., the boys at 7:30 p.m.
“That’ll be a real hoot because we have lots of alumni, especially on the boys side,” said Klaich.
Among the alumni who will be putting this year’s boys varsity team to the test is Stephan Nikitenko.
“He graduated five or six years ago and had a college basketball scholarship,” said Klaich. “He played for Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Mont.”
Nikitenko now works in Washington, D.C., but is “pretty much coming back just for the alumni game,” said Klaich.