• Seven Nikolaevsk players named to all-tournament team
By Sean Pearson
Whether narrowly squeaking by the host Cook Inlet Academy Eagles 27-26 on Thursday, or crunching the Ninilchik Lady Wolverines 51-7 on Friday, Nikolaevsk Lady Warrior Basketball Head Coach Bea Klaich’s rigorous scrutiny never wavered.
“We don’t pay attention to the score,” Klaich said of her team. “I was focused on getting my girls to run offenses and defenses correctly.”
You see — Klaich is thinking ahead.
After several seasons as head coach, Bea Klaich has slowly and steadily developed Nikolaevsk girls basketball into a force to be reckoned with. The team’s latest Cook Inlet Classic Championship title — their first ever — is simply an initial step toward what could be a banner year for the Lady Warriors.
“It feels good,” Klaich said of Thursday’s win over Cook Inlet Academy. “But it was only a one-point victory. That game could have easily gone to CIA. The fact that it was so close gives us more incentive to work hard so it’s not so close next time.”
Last year, Nikolaevsk finished second in the tournament, behind CIA. And the Eagles bested the Lady Warriors 43-39 in three overtimes at the 1A State Championships in March.
This season looks to be just as competitive.
“It’s very early in the season,” Klaich said. “We are just getting organized and we have plenty of things to work on.”
Don’t let her fool you.
The 2013-14 Nikolaevsk Lady Warriors are a seasoned basketball team with strong fundamentals, some impressive outside shooting from Kilina Klaich and Serafima Kalugin, a substantial inside game with senior Nianiella Dorvall under the basket and a very deep bench.
And most of them have been playing basketball together since preschool. (That’s possibly a bit of an exaggeration.)
“Getting my bench lots of time playing in various combinations with the starters was also an important aspect,” Klaich said of the games. “Every girl on the team scored, and no one girl scored more than 10 points. My second-highest scorer was one of my eighth graders with nine points.”
That’s a deep bench.
Nikolaevsk went 3-0 in the tournament, solidly defeating the Yakutat Eagles 31-22 in the championship game. Dorvall led the game in scoring with 14, and amassed 39 points over the three games. She also went 18 for 20 from the line to win the free-throw shooting competition.
Still — Klaich is quick to stress the importance of unity in the program; the Lady Warriors shot 64 percent from the line for the tournament.
“It’s all about team effort and success — not individual success,” she said. “My girls have great attitudes, and we are all looking forward to a fun season.”
The Lady Warriors take a break for the holidays, before gearing up for the Jan. 9-11 St. Elias Classic in Yakutat, where they square off against Yakutat, Angoon and Dimond’s junior varsity squad. Klaich said she hopes to get a few good practices in before the tournament rolls around.
“We went to some great camps this past summer,” she explained. “I’m trying to reinforce the fundamentals we learned.”
In the meantime, Klaich appears little more than cautiously optimistic about the season — despite her capable clan of Lady Warriors.
“We have lots of work to do and we always need to improve,” she said.
In boys’ action, Nikolaevsk finished third in the tournament with a 1-2 record.
The Warriors got off to a good start against the eventual tournament champion Eagles of CIA. They even held a 33-30 lead going into the final quarter, but gave up 21 fourth-quarter points to lose 43-51.
Things looked better for the Warriors on Friday, as they easily beat Wasilla Lake Christian 50-21. Nikolaevsk Head Coach Steve Klaich noted that Wasilla Lake was missing three starters in the lopsided game.
Jaruby Nelson led the Warriors with 14 points, while Felemon Molodih added 10.
On Saturday, Nikolaevsk fell 36-50 against a talented team from Yakutat.
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