• Ladies lose, but show drastic improvement against Nikiski
By Sean Pearson
The Homer Mariners took advantage of 24 Nikiski turnovers to roll to a 48-34 Southcentral Conference win at home on Friday. Senior Sam Reinert again led the M’s with 18 points, while sophomore Sheldon Hutt added 11.
Reinert credited the team’s defense in forcing turnovers.
“We are starting to play really great defense, and that paid off Friday night,” he said. “Everyone gave 100 percent, and we left everything on the floor.”
Reinert entered the Mariner basketball program as a skinny, gangly and hesitant freshman four years ago. Homer coach Mark Casseri helped mold him into a top-notch center with a soft touch and a penchant for crashing the boards.
“I play basketball because I love the sport, and because this program is my life. We are all one big family,” Reinert said. “I’ve gotten better over the years thanks to my coaches, but I think I’ve just gotten a lot more confident in myself as a player — and as a person.”
Reinert has stepped up to a leadership role on the team, and brings a sense of calm, but focused intensity to the court.
With this being his last year to play high school basketball, Reinert said that, more than anything, he wants to finish strong.
“I know we can do that,” he said. “I see the confidence growing in the younger guys on the team every day. That’s why we are growing into a strong team.”
Homer travels to Cordova this weekend to face the Wolverines as they wind down their regular season. With Regions starting in Seward on March 7, and State competition following on the 21-23, post-season play is breathing down the Mariners’ necks.
But Reinert says they are ready.
“Now the rest of the season is about heart, and I know we’ve got plenty of that,” he said.
Lady M’s mix it up
The Lady Mariners were not quite as successful at home against the Lady Bulldogs, as their relatively high-percentage shots continued to bang off the front of the rim, or roll back out of the basket. Still, it was arguably the best game they played all year.
A strong defense kept Homer close throughout much of the game, holding Nikiski to five points in the first quarter. However, a 14-4 run in the second quarter proved too big a gap to close, and the Lady M’s fell 23-36.
Tayla Cabana led Homer with seven points, and said she was pleased with the team’s play.
“I do think that was definitely one of the best games the team has had — and that’s awesome,” she said. “We used a new offense and defense, and I believe the whole team likes it. It works!”
Madison Akers scored three points in the game and also said she was happy with how the team played.
“I was happy with how we played,” she said. “The last time we played Nikiski, we played scared, and we fouled.”
Akers, a freshman, said she finds it challenging to play against girls who are up to three years older than she.
“Physically, many of the players are bigger and stronger than I am, but it’s a challenge I like,” she said. “The experience is helping me improve all of my skills.”
Akers said she likes how well the team gets along and enjoys how close they all are.
“We don’t have any one player trying to be a superstar, which keeps the drama to a minimum,” she said. “And it gives everyone a chance to do what they are skilled at.”
As the Lady M’s start to close out the regular season, visions of post-season play look encouraging.
“We would like to make it to State,” Akers said. “We have the talent to do it if everyone plays to the best of their abilities.”
“I feel like all our hard work is finally coming through,” she said. “We hit a dip at one point in the season, but we kept on pushing and it payed off.”
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