• Who says you can’t be intimidating in pink?
By Sean Pearson
Not many high school pep bands can pull off both Ozzy and AC/DC with clarinets, trombones and one of those big bass drums. Yet somehow, Homer High band director Amy Johnson makes “Back in Black” work in Alice Witte Gymnasium every week.
Johnson’s Mariner musicians had the house rocking Monday, as Homer hosted Nikiski for senior night — and finished their season at home with a couple of hard-fought wins.
Homer players, as well as students and family members, wore bright pink T-shirts to the games to raise breast cancer awareness.
Lady Mariner senior Tayla Cabana celebrated her evening with a game-high 16 points in Homer’s 36-31 victory over the Lady Bulldogs. Madison Akers and Larsen Fellows each added eight.
The Lady M’s got off to a strong start, jumping to a 14-8 lead in the first quarter. Nikiski responded with a 10-6 second-quarter run to come within two points of Homer at the half.
A second-half defensive showdown held Nikiski to single digits in the third and fourth quarters and resulted in the Lady Mariner win.
Senior Maggie Koplin said just thinking about it being Senior Night made her sad.
“I knew it would be an emotional night, but I was really excited to play Nikiski again,” she said. “It’s just hard to believe this will be my last time ever playing in that gym. Four years goes by a lot faster than you think it will.”
Koplin said she has many great memories playing in the Homer program, and sees her teammates as family. She also believes getting to this year’s State Tournament is well within the Lady Mariners’ grasp.
“We have so much potential; I think that’s a realistic goal for us,” she said. “We just need to keep working together and stay mentally strong.”
Donning bright pink socks of their own, a determined team of Mariner boys took to the floor following senior night festivities that recognized seniors Quinn Daugharty, Martin Molodih and John Walsworth.
But it would be junior Kenneth Schneider who caught fire on Monday night and turned up the heat on the Bulldogs. Schneider scored a team-high 25 points — including some crucial fourth-quarter free throws — to help his M’s to a 74-70 win.
Homer jumped out to a 12-4 first-quarter, and held on to take a comfortable 32-25 lead into the break.
However, the Bulldogs turned up a little heat of their own in the second half, sinking several well-timed three-pointers, and always yapping at the Mariners’ heels as the game clock wound down.
A total of two points separated the teams’ second-half scoring, forcing Homer to rely on it’s first-quarter scoring advantage for the win.
Daugharty picked up 17 points in the game, while junior Filip Reutov added 15.
“It was extremely special to play for the same crowd that has been there for us all season,” Molodih said. “We know the crowd is behind us every game, and this year, we are showing that Homer has a team that can — and will — compete.”
Like others, Daugharty said his senior year is happening much quicker than he expected. He knows exactly where he stands, however, with his teammates.
“These guys are not only my teammates, they are my brothers,” he said. “We have grown together and are now inseparable, and I am going to miss every single one of these gentlemen next year. I don’t think you could find a closer group of guys.”
Molodih agreed, adding that good “team chemistry” helps when making adjustments in the team’s play.
Both Daugharty and Molodih said they are ready for Regions next weekend in Cordova, and are well aware that they have their work cut out or them.
“A lot of teams reach their peak, and then fizzle out before the regional tournament,” Daugharty explained. “Our biggest focus is on not letting our flare and desire for winning die out.”
The boys varsity traveled to face Kenai on Tuesday, but game results were not available by press time.
Both teams hit the road this weekend to play Skyview and Seward.
Comments are closed