In a span of five minutes, Nikolaevsk basketball fans were dealt a loss and a victory Wednesday afternoon at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.
On one court, there was the Nikolaevsk boys team falling short in a 62-51 loss to the King Cove T-Jacks that determined the Class 1A boys consolation champion.
On the court next to it, separated only by a large, black curtain, there was the Nikolaevsk girls team cruising to a 45-26 win over conference rival Cook Inlet Academy to claim the Class 1A girls consolation crown.
“At halftime, I cut my halftime short because the girls wanted to support the boys,” said Nikolaevsk girls coach Bea Klaich. “I was OK with that because for one thing, it keeps my girls loose. If they get too concerned with the game, sometimes they don’t play well, and they need to stay happy and loose and having fun.”
On more than one occasion, Nikolaevsk boys coach Steve Klaich took a peek at the girls game to see how things were progressing.
“I felt real comfortable when I looked up and saw the girls were taking care of business,” he said. “If it would’ve been a one-point game when I snuck a peek at the score, I would’ve been a lot more uptight.”
It all made for some interesting drama on the final day of the Class 1A tournament.
Nikolaevsk girls 45, CIA 26
The Warriors sent off seniors Nianiella Dorvall and Sophia Kalugin with a win in the consolation championship game.
“I don’t think I can describe it,” Dorvall said. “I’ve been playing for five years, we started with CIA and ended with CIA, and they’re a good team.”
Both seniors are crucial post players, consistently grabbing rebounds and adding second-chance points. Dorvall led Nikolaevsk on Wednesday with a double-double of 17 points and 10 boards, and shot 8 for 11 from the floor.
“The memories I’ve made with everybody, it’s indescribable how much fun I’ve had,” Dorvall said.
CIA, the defending 1A champions, suffered the same fate as Nikolaevsk in Saturday’s first round. The Eagles lost to Yakutat 37-24 to drop themselves out of contention right away.
However, CIA coach Rustin Hitchcock was quick to say the tournament results were not for a lack of effort.
“Free throws and lay-ins just weren’t falling, once again,” Hitchcock said. “But they played hard all the way through, so I have no qualms about our team.”
Nicole Moffis, the lone senior for the Eagles, led the team with 12 points and six boards. Moffis was faced up against an improved defensive assignment from Nikolaevsk’s Kayla Stafford.
“She paced herself out pretty well,” Hitchcock said. “Even with foul trouble, we were going to keep her in.
“I think Nicole ended the season really good, even though we didn’t reach the high-water mark like were hoping for.”
After moving out to an 11-5 lead after one quarter, Nikolaevsk outscored CIA 14-7 in the second frame to take a 25-12 advantage into the locker room.
After beating CIA 37-20 in the Peninsula Conference championship, Klaich said she believes her team finally realized that it had what it took to overcome a perenially tough Eagles squad.
“CIA was such a force for so many years, and they’re still an excellent team, but every time we went into a game with them, our girls had a hard time getting over the fact that they were the champions,” Klaich said. “I feel like my girls have gotten over that fact, and that they know they can beat them, and went into the game confident.”
Dorvall added that as a younger group two years ago, she saw CIA as an unbeatable team, and “as we got better and better, we had a better attitude, and we went into games having fun and playing our game.”
Kilina Klaich and Kayla Stafford each hit a pair of 3-pointers that helped spark the early offensive game. Klaich ended with nine points and Stafford with 12.
After the game, coach Klaich revealed that her daughter Kilina had been competing all year with a torn ACL she suffered before the season started.
“She decided that rather than get surgery and miss her junior year, she’d rather get a championship with her team,” coach Klaich said. “She’ll be getting surgery and will hopefully be back at full strength next year.”
Serafima Kalugin also suffered a sprained ankle early in the season, according to Klaich.
“It’s something we haven’t made a big deal about because that’s something you have to play through sometimes,” Klaich said.
Turnovers played an important factor in the second half, as Nikolaevsk outscored CIA 13-7 to take a 38-19 lead into the fourth quarter. Overall, the Warriors scored 18 points off of turnovers.
At the sound of the final buzzer, the emotion finally came through on the faces of the Warriors.
“It’s huge for these girls to finish a season strong,” Klaich said. “To have no regrets, feeling good about what they’ve accomplished, and feeling good about beating what I feel is one of the better quality teams in our conference.
“I think the girls will take this into next year, and that’ll be the driving force for them.”
For CIA, Hitchcock mentioned that the absence of tall post players for both squads next season will play a role in the style of play seen between the two schools. CIA is losing Moffis to graduation, while Nikolaevsk is losing Dorvall and Kalugin.
“For us, it wasn’t the title that we had last year, but this group came together, improved and played hard,” Hitchcock said. “If we can get some offseason improvement in a few areas, there’s no reason why we can’t be back next year.”
King Cove boys 62, Nikolaevsk 51
In the Nikolaevsk boys consolation final, a late surge was not enough to take the title.
“I thought the boys played well,” Nikolaevsk coach Steve Klaich said. “We just gave up too many turnovers, and our shooting was average, if we would’ve shot better we could’ve come out on top.”
Jaruby Nelson had another big game for the Warriors, scoring 26 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Nineteen of Nelson’s points came in the second half.
However, the speed and power of King Cove senior Paul Hamilton overcame the eight 3s the Warriors hit. Hamilton scored 22 points (on 10 of 15 shooting) and grabbed 11 rebounds to record a double-double.
“We got to go out on a win, so that’s big,” said King Cove coach Randel Newman. “I was telling them only four of these 16 teams get to leave with a victory, and we got to be one of them.”
Newman said he felt his team slowed down with Nikolaevsk’s defense at times, and he encouraged them to step up the tempo.
“It was about playing their game,” Newman said. “Fast-break points, defense, stuff like that.”
Trailing 35-23 at halftime, Nikolaevsk continued to find difficulty with shots in the paint, as the T-Jacks outscored the Warriors 14-12 in the third quarter.
Nikit Fefelov nailed a trey to cut the lead to 56-51 with 1:05 remaining, putting Nikolaevsk on the doorstep of a late comeback.
“I was thinking if we could get a few stops on defense we had a real shot at it,” Klaich said. “The boys played hard, they were tired at that point, but their motivation was high. They were running on adrenaline.”
Unfortunately for the Warriors, a couple late turnovers erased any hopes of a comeback in the final minute. Hamilton put up two late layups after getting steals.
“We didn’t get over the hump, but we were right there,” Klaich said.
Joey Klecka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Warriors 45, Eagles 26
Nikolaevsk 11 14 13 7 —45
Cook Inlet 5 7 7 7 —26
NIKOLAEVSK (45) — Ki. Klaich 3 0-0 9, Kr. Klaich 0 0-0 0, Fefelov 1 2-2 4, So. Kalugin 0 1-3 1, Stafford 5 0-0 12, Se. Kalugin 1 0-0 2, Dorvall 8 1-2 17, Hickman 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 4-7 45.
CIA (26) — Hanna 0 0-0 0, Moffis 5 1-2 12, Taplin 0 0-0 0, Hills 0 0-0 0, Brush 1 0-1 2, Lyons 0 0-0 0, Hammond 0 4-8 4, McGahan 1 0-0 2, Orth 3 0-1 6. Totals 10 5-12 26.
3-point field goals — Nikolaevsk 5 (Ki. Klaich 3, Stafford 2); CIA 1 (Moffis 1).
Team fouls — Nikolaevsk 15; CIA 13.
T-Jacks 62, Warriors 51
King Cove 16 19 14 13 —62
Nikolaevsk 9 14 12 16 —51
KING COVE (62) — Newman 3 1-2 7, I. Samuelson 9 0-0 19, Christansen 3 0-0 6, C. Samuelson 1 0-0 2, Larsen 0 0-0 0, Mack 3 0-0 6, Hamilton 10 2-2 22. Totals 29 3-4 62.
NIKOLAEVSK (51) — K. Molodih 0 0-0 0, Nelson 10 1-1 26, A. Yakunin 2 0-0 4, S. Yakunin 0 0-0 0, N. Fefelov 3 0-0 8, Gordeev 3 0-0 6, F. Molodih 1 0-0 2, J. Fefelov 2 0-0 5, A. Kalugin 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 1-1 51.
3-point field goals — King Cove 1 (I. Samuelson 1); Nikolaevsk 8 (Nelson 5, N. Fefelov 2, J. Fefelov 1).
Team fouls — King Cove 4; Nikolaevsk 8.