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The Kodiak High School Lady Bears are the Cinderella Team from the Northern Lights Conference, and will be going to the state championship tournament. They secured their first berth to the big dance in over 20 years by compiling a 3-and-1 record during the three-day conference regionals here over the weekend.
The Lady Bears had spent much of the season on the road, and only managed a 2-and-8 conference record. But playing before the hometown crowd, they turned up their offense – and especially defense – a notch or two when it counted.
Kodiak was the bottom seed in the NLC’s North Division and lost their first game to the South’s number one seed, the Kenai Kardinals, by one point, 30-29, on opening night. Thrust into the loser’s bracket, the Bears went on to dominate Homer on Friday morning 48-32, Palmer on Saturday morning 45-37, and finally Soldotna on Saturday afternoon in the third-place game, 49-27. In that last game, Kodiak held the Stars to only six second-half points. For the tournament, the Bears outscored their opponents 171-to-126. Only second-place Wasilla, with 176 points, scored more during the three-day event.
Senior forward Rachel Norton was named to the first team All-Stars. Wasilla’s Jenna Johnson was named tourney MVP, and Kenai coach Ken Felchle was named coach of the year.
The Colony girls beat Wasilla in the NLC championship game Saturday night, and both teams will advance to state.
The Lady Bears are once again the bottom seed as they head into the state tourney, and will face the Colony Knights in their first game at 5:15 on Thursday, March 19. You can find the state championship bracket as a PDF file above.
Meanwhile, the Kodiak boys went 1-and-2 in the Northern Lights tournament. Also the bottom seed in the North Division, they lost their first game to SoHi 57-42, but went on to beat homer 69-58 on Friday. Saturday, the Bears lost to Colony by one point, 60-59 and were bounced out of the double-elimination tournament. Colony went on to beat Kenai for third place, and will be going to state, along with NLC champion Wasilla and second-place Soldotna.
Sophomore center Raphael Matautia was named to the first team All-Conference team. Senior swingman Erwin Domingo was selected as a second team All-Conference player. Colony’s John Palmer was named NLC MVP and Soldotna’s coach, Matthew Johnson was boys’ coach of the year.
You can find the complete tournament honors by clicking "Read more," below.
Coach of the Year – Ken Felchle, Kenai
MVP – Jenna Johnson, Wasilla
Mikaela Bolling, Palmer; Jesse Stenga, Soldtona; Kara Larson, Colony; Lindsay Layland, Homer; Allie Grazulis, Colony; Lacie Wortham, Kenai; Kelsey Campbell, Palmer; Alex Coon, Colony; Rachel Norton, Kodiak.
Jamie Cox, Palmer; Melissa Massey, Skyview; Tara Garrod, Colony; Celeste Colegrove, Wasilla; Sammy Hull, Kenai; April Heffner, Soldotna; Brittany Meyer, Skyview; Piper Daugharty, Homer.
Coach of the Year – Matthew Johnson, Soldotna
MVP – John Palmer, Colony
Kroon Tillerman, Wasilla; Liam Andrus, Soldotna; Mitch Swetzof, Palmer; Josh Lazaro, Kenai; Bryce Jacobson, Colony; Matt Grubb, Soldotna; Jake Hillis, Palmer; Andrese Lavern, Wasilla; Raphael Matautia, Kodiak.
Chris Scott, Colony; Sean Niekamp, Palmer; Dean DeVaney, Homer; Thomas Conley, Skyview; Braydon Kuiper, Wasilla; Daniel Geller, Soldotna; Josh Gilbert, Homer; John Knowles, Wasilla; Erwin Domingo, Kodiak.