• Middle schoolers travel to Kenai this weekend for end-of-season tournament play
By Sean Pearson
Homer Middle School basketball teams defended their home court against a slew of Silvers on Friday, sending both the boys and girls Soldotna Middle School squads back home with losses.
Thanks to a lot of hustle and some good communication on the floor, the Homer Lady Huskies schooled the Silvers with a decisive 50-16 win in their last regular-season game. The victory secured them at second place in the standings as they travel to Kenai on Saturday on a quest for the Borough title.
Lady Husky Coach Connie Akers said she felt very good about her team’s performance, especially in light of the fact that one of her starters was out of town.
“We executed a good fast break, shot well from the field and the free throw line, and rebounded on both ends of the court,” Akers said. “The win puts us in second place, giving us a bye in the first round of the tournament.”
In an earlier game last Tuesday, the Lady Huskies ran right past Soldotna Maroon, digging up a sound 41-14 conference win.
“The girls played good defense and forced many turnovers,” Akers said. “We only have seven eighth graders on the team, but they are strong passers and are always good about looking down court for open teammates.”
Akers said the seventh-grade girls team went undefeated for the season.
She added that this weekend’s borough tournament provides an excellent opportunity to see just how far the team has come over the course of the season. Right now, her Huskies’ main focus is on executing offense and playing fundamentally sound basketball to open the tournament with a win in game one. Still, Akers can’t help looking ahead a bit.
“We are really looking forward to a rematch against Kenai in the championship game,” she said.
The Kossacks beat Homer earlier in the season.
Akers and her Huskies open play on Saturday at 9 a.m. at Kenai Central High, and are then scheduled to play again sometime that afternoon.
In boys’ middle school play, the Husky boys had to work a bit harder to secure their 47-46 nipping of the Silvers. The afternoon game at home would see several lead changes in a nail-biter that delivered plenty of action and suspense to the very end.
Husky Assistant Coach Chris Etzwiler said he was happy with the team’s play in not only Saturday’s game, but for the entire season.
“We are not the tallest team in the league, but we get the job done with teamwork and fundamentals,” Etzwiler said. “The kids have been committed not only to the team, but also academically.”
Eligibility for student athletes is based on passing cumulative quarter grades that are checked weekly. But keeping grades up is only half the battle.
“They have really done a tremendous job learning the offense and trusting one another’s decisions on the court,” Etzwiler said. “We only have one loss this season, and that was one of our first games.”
Etzwiler said the coaching staff is really making a big push with defensive fundamentals this week.
“The boys know it comes down to the little things, like sitting low on defense and blocking out for rebounds,” he said. “If they play some tough defense, good things should happen for them.”
For the Huskies, success isn’t measured by individual performances, but by teamwork and communication.
“We never talk about who scores the most points, because we don’t care,” Etzwiler said. “What matters is how we play as a team.”
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