• Cook Inlet uses questionable strategy to beat Nikolaevsk in 3 OTs
By Sean Pearson
On Nov. 22, 1950, the Fort Wayne Pistons defeated the Minneapolis Lakers by a record-low score of 19-18. The Pistons held the ball for minutes at a time without shooting in an attempt to limit the Lakers’ inside game. While some called it strategy, others found it boring, and talk of implementing a shot clock grew louder. First used in 1954, the shot clock ended stall tactics and the pace of the game picked up.
Eight states currently use the shot clock in high school basketball. Alaska is not one of them. So, when the Cook Inlet Academy Lady Eagles decided to hold the ball and run down the clock in both the second and third overtimes at last Wednesday’s 1A State Championship game at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, there was little the Lady Warriors could do.
Nikolaevsk held a 31-24 lead with 4 minutes, 31 seconds, left in the game, but gave up seven points to CIA in the final minutes of regulation. That tied the game at 31 and sent it into overtime.
Cook Inlet took its first lead of the game in the initial overtime period, but Nikolaevsk answered to keep the score locked at 39, and send the game into another overtime. That’s when CIA decided to stall.
The Lady Eagles held the ball almost the entire second-overtime period, calling a time out with 8 seconds left. A Cook Inlet 3-point attempt at the buzzer fell short. It was the only shot taken in the four-minute period.
The Lady Eagles employed the same strategy in the third OT period, this time scoring on a layup, and sealing their 43-39 win with two free throws.
“My girls and I were highly disappointed when we ended up losing the triple overtime game for the State title,” said Nikolaevsk Head Coach Bea Klaich. “We knew we could win that game and that’s what makes it extra hard to take.”
Klaich agreed that CIA used a perfectly legitimate strategy to beat the Warriors in the end, but said she couldn’t help feeling a little let down because of the tactic they used to do it.
That feeling didn’t last long.
“I have a deep belief that God allows things for a reason, and I know we will be better for it,” she said. “My girls are resilient. They were so composed throughout the game, and when they were under tremendous pressure at the end, they never crumbled.”
Klaich said she has re-coached the game almost every night since the loss, talking it over with her husband, (Nikolaevsk Boys’ Coach Steve Klaich), fellow coaches and friends.
“I grew tremendously through this experience, and I know my girls did too,” she said. “If we would’ve won the game, (and I wish we had), I wouldn’t be scrutinizing everything to see what went wrong. Now, I have the drive to fix all the things we could have done better.”
Klaich said she’s already excited about next year, and for good reason. She has no seniors on her team, so all her starters will be back. The Lady Warriors made it to this year’s state championship game with three juniors, two sophomores, six freshmen and one eighth grader.
Klaich said she is extremely proud of her team this season, attributing their great performance throughout the season to hard work — even in the off-season.
“I thank God for allowing me to coach this incredible group of girls, and I thank those awesome girls for a great season,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for a more dedicated or nicer group of girls.”
Klaich also sent a shout-out to the parents, who sacrificed a lot of time and money to allow their girls to get better in the off-season and play ball all season long, as well as the tremendous support the team received from Homer and Anchor Point businesses.
And, while the sting of their State loss still lingers, it’s pretty clear the Lady Warriors have nothing but improvement on their minds.
“When I talked to my girls after the final game, I told them they have two choices: they could get bitter or get better,” Klaich explained. “We will get better, and we will be back.”
In the meantime, Klaich and her girls are celebrating an impressive 25-4 season record, as well as the fact that, out of more than 100 schools in 1A basketball, they are the 1A State Title runner up.
“I think everyone knows our goal next year,” she said.
1A State Basketball Championship
|Eagles||— 43,||Warriors||— 39|
|Cook Inlet||— 4||— 11||— 6||— 10||— 8||— 0||— 4||— 43|
|Nikolaevsk||— 6||— 9||— 12||— 4||— 8||— 0||— 0||— 39|
Nikolaevsk: Dorvall 7 2-2 16, Klaich 1 0-0 3, So. Kalugin 2 3-4 7, Stafford 2 3-4 8, Se. Kalugin 1 3-4 5. Totals 13 11-14 39.
3-point goals: CIA 3; Nikolaevsk 2 (Klaich, Stafford).
Team fouls: CIA 17; Nikolaevsk 19.
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