• Lady Warriors win, enter conference tourney as No. 1 seed
By Sean Pearson
It took two overtimes and 21 points from senior Eric Mametieff, but the Nikolaevsk Warriors held off the Cook Inlet Academy Eagles 51-44 in conference play on Thursday at home.
Cook Inlet jumped out to a 12-6 lead in the first quarter, and held the lead until Nikolaevsk went on a 12-6 fourth-quarter run to force the game into overtime. Both teams logged five points in the first overtime period, sending the knotted game on to another five minutes of play.
The Warriors took control in the second overtime, outscoring CIA 11-4 and holding on for the 51-44 win.
Mametieff’s 21 points also came with four assists, eight rebounds and three steals. Jonah Fefelov crashed the boards hard with 12 rebounds, while Blake Klaich added 10.
Neil Gordeev put on a defensive show, snatching up eight rebounds, five steals and three blocks.
Mametieff credited the team’s experience with helping them pull out the win.
“We played calm and knew what our objective was,” he said. “I felt like I had a good shooting game, but that only comes from great passes from my teammates.”
The Warriors head to Lumen Christi on Wednesday to kick off the Peninsula Conference Tournament. They enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed, and Mametieff said he is optimistic about the team’s chances.
“All the teams will be tough to beat,” he said. “But I think whoever comes ready to play should come out with the victory.”
The boys open tournament play against the Seldovia Sea Otters.
The Nikolaevsk Lady Warriors had a bit of an easier time securing their win over the Lady Eagles. After opening with a strong 11-point run in the first quarter, Nikolaevsk opened up a 24-14 lead at the half.
Cook Inlet came out with the hot hand after the half, scoring seven points, while holding the Lady Warriors to two points. But a 9-7 fourth-quarter performance sealed the Lady Eagle’s fate and gave Nikolaevsk the 35-28 win.
Naniella Dorvall led the scoring for the Lady Warriors, picking up 15 points to go with her eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Sophia Kalugin pulled down 11 rebounds and Kilina Klaich grabbed seven.
The win moves Nikolaevsk to first place in the conference, and an overall record of 20-3. Their only conference loss came against CIA, putting their conference record at 11-1 and earning them the No. 1 seed at the conference tournament.
Lady Warrior Head Coach Bea Klaich said she is thrilled with her team’s progress, and continues to see them improve with every game.
“We got a bye on Wednesday, so our first game will be at 3 p.m. Thursday against the winner of the Wednesday Ninilchik/Birchwood contest,” Klaich said. “The winner of that game advances to the championship game on Friday night.”
Klaich said the Lady Warriors’ toughest competition will come from Cook Inlet Academy, but looks for very competitive play from both Lumen Christi and Ninilchik.
“In order to beat Cook Inlet, we need to take care of the ball and not make careless turnovers against their tough press,” she explained. “Then, we need to have an attack mentality against the press. The heart of our team is and always will be ‘defense first.’”
Klaich said it helps that her girls have fun together on and off the court.
“They support each other and usually have big smiles on their faces out on the court — even when they make a mistake,” she said. “These girls make coaching basketball a pleasure.”
Klaich said she challenges her players to not just focus on their games, but also watch other games and learn from them.
“We often sit together and discuss basketball strategy as others play,” she said. “My girls have become good students of the game and enjoy long tournaments. Of course, they always have school work to keep them occupied as well!”
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