Sitka Tops Kenai to Open State Tourney

    Sitka's Maitlin Young (13) scores over Kenai's Emma Beck (40) in the Lady Wolves 47-34 win over the Kardinals, Wednesday, at the state championships at Anchorage's Alaska Airlines Center, Wednesday. (Klas Stolpe/KINY)

    Anchorage, Alaska (KINY) - The Sitka Lady Wolves opened the ASAA March Madness Alaska Basketball State Championships at Anchorages Alaska Airlines Center on Wednesday with a resounding 47-34 win over the Kenai Kardinals.

      “It’s definitely a relief,” Sitka senior Tawny Smith said. “An eight a.m. game, everyone is always kind of stressed about that. It’s good, the team definitely showed up today and it was good. Just one step today in the right direction of our overall goal. Now we are able to focus on the next game.”

      Smith scored two points but directed the Lady Wolves offense while accumulating three assists, four rebounds, two steals and five deflections which resulted in teammates steals.

      Junior Ava Brady and senior Chole Morrison set the tone early inside for the Lady Wolves, scoring three straight baskets to counter Kenai sophomore Emma Beck as the Lady Wolves held a 9-8 first quarter advantage.

      Kenai opened the second stanza on a 7-3 run and led 15-12 until Sitka sophomore Maitlin Young began to dominate on both ends of the court. Young would record one deflection in the stanza and a basket but opened the wings for classmate Naia Nelson who hit two shots past the arc for a 19-17 advantage at the half.

      Beck tied the game for the Kardinals to open the second half but Morrison scored inside and Young hit another shot past the arc for a 24-19 Lady Wolves advantage and Sitka would never trail in the game again.

      Kenai pulled to within two points, 24-22 on a basket by Beck but never got that close again.

      Sitka led 34-27 at the end of the third quarter and the Lady Wolves opened the fourth stanza on baskets by Young and junior Marina Olney-Miller for a 38-27 lead and ended the game on a 9-7 run as the teams exchanged baskets down the stretch.

      “It’s great to get that first win out of the way,” Sitka coach Mindy Bartolaba said. “We’re just looking forward to heading into tomorrow now.”

      Bartolaba said the Lady Wolves were resilient.

      “Just their willingness to shift,” Bartolaba said. “And their ability to not give up. We had a couple lead changes and we were a little frazzled there to start out with but they didn’t lose confidence or poise. Those lead changes happen.”

      Young led the Lady Wolves with 12 points. Olney-Miller added nine points, Morrison, Nelson and Brady eight each and Smith two. Morrison led the Lady Wolves with 10 rebounds and three steals.

      Sitka hit 4-6 at the free throw line, Kenai 1-4.

      Beck led the Kardinals with a game high 20 points. Senior Logan Satahite added six, junior Rylie Sparks and Malerie Nunn, and seniors Erin Koziczkowski and Amber Nash two each. Beck had nine rebounds. Satathite had four assists.

    Above - Sitka senior Tawny Smith (1) checks a shot by Kenai Malerie Nunn (11) in the Lady Wolves 47-34 win over the Kardinals during the opening day of the ASAA March Madness Alaska Basketball State Championships at Anchorages Alaska Airlines Center on Wednesday. (Klas Stolpe/KINY)

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