Anchorage — The Soldotna and Palmer girls basketball teams provided a thrilling finish to East's T-Bird Classic on Saturday at East High.
Six lead changes took place in a championship game that eventually fell Soldotna's way, 58-55.
Soldotna's Kaillee Skjold (nine points) was named most valuable player for the three-day event. Her nine assists and four steals in the final were both game highs, but Soldotna's Julie Litchfield led all scorers with 22 points. Litchfield drained 7 of 12 shots, with two makes coming from beyond the arc.
Palmer, led by 18 points from Taylor Blake, won the rebound battle 45-30, but lost the turnover battle 25-10. Kourtney Straight and Leya Depriest (15 points) each secured 10 rebounds for the Moose.
The Stars capitalized on their turnover advantage, scoring 28 points off the changes in possession.
Things went Palmer's way early. The Moose led by as much 13 points as they built a 30-19 halftime lead. Soldotna came roaring back in the third quarter, however, going on a 24-12 run to lead by a point heading into the fourth quarter.
East trounced Kenai 61-41 in the third-place game, getting 19 points from Togafitti Manu and 17 from Taria Page, who also pulled in a game-high 12 rebounds.
The Thunderbirds took a 33-18 lead into halftime and led by as much as 20. East's Dajah Motuga achieved game-highs with seven assists and four steals.
Kenai's Sydney Taylor netted a game-high 21 points, and Caitie Steinbeck led the Kardinals with nine rebounds.
Valdez claimed fifth place with a 55-44 win over Seward, with Mariah Wamsley turning in a monster game for the Buccaneers.
Wamsley led all scorers with 22 points and ruled the glass with 13 rebounds, 10 of which were offensive. The sophomore helped Valdez dominate the boards to the tune of a 42-28 edge and chipped in two assists and two steals.
Katy Merioles buried the game's only two 3-pointers and finished with 16 points for Valdez. Sara Sapp shined on defense with a game-high five steals and hit 5 of 6 field-goal attempts to rack 10 points. Madison Flemming corralled 11 rebounds and dished a game-high six assists.
Two Seward players reached double-digit point totals, with Jasmine Parea notching 16 and Tessa Adelmann depositing 12.
Colleen Snyder's 19 points sparked Kotzebue's win in the seventh-place game, a 56-37 win over Eagle River.
Eagle River, led by 16 points from Tessa Heagy, held a 20-10 lead after one quarter but was outscored 16-0 in the second quarter to trail 26-20 at halftime.
East High School
Soldotna 58, Palmer 55 (championship)
East 61, Kenai 41 (third place)
Valdez 55, Seward 44 (fifth place)
Kotzebue 56, Eagle River 37 (seventh place)
Kaillee Skjold (Most Valuable Player), Soldotna; Colleen Snyder, East; Jasmine Perea, Seward; Julie Litchfield, Soldotna; Kelci Benson, Soldotna; Kourtney Straight, Palmer; Leya Depriest, Palmer; Marian Wamsley, Valdez; Taria Page, East; Taylor Blake, Palmer; Tessa Heagy, Eagle River; Togafiti Manu, East.
Dimond, Grace claim titles
The Grace Christian Classic basketball tournament crowned two champions Saturday, Dimond taking a boys title and Grace winning a girls championship in the tournament.
Dimond, the defending state champion, won all three of its games in the round-robin event, capping the title run with a 55-32 win over Homer. After winning their first two games, the Grace girls lost 25-23 to Bethel on Saturday but still claimed the title by virtue of tie-breaker rules. Bethel and Homer also won two games in the girls tournament.
The Lynx made an early statement with an 18-4 run in the first quarter that gave way to a 34-10 halftime lead. Damon Cikanek led the way with 13 points, and Stanson Afoa chipped in 10 for Dimond. Allen Pangelinan hit for five of his nine in the fourth quarter.
Sam Reinert paced Homer with nine points.
Bethel's win included 10 points from Riana Joseph and six from Rebecca Brink. The Warriors trailed 12-11 at halftime, but Joseph and Brink accounted for 10 of 14 second-half points to help Bethel pull out the win.
Grace's Elizabeth Viergutz notched seven points, and Sasha Baird scored six.
Homer picked up its second win on the strength of a game-high 12 points from Talya Cabana, closing out Service 42-31 with the help of a 14-5 fourth-quarter run.
The Cougars, led by 10 points from Alissa Nanez, held a 19-16 lead at the half but trailed 28-26 after three quarters.
Four Soldotna players scored in double figures in the Stars' win Saturday, with Cory Carver leading the way with 20, Austin Kruse hitting for 12, Colton Young netting 11 and Noah Fowler finishing with 10.
Soldotna and Grace were tied at halftime, but the Stars forged a 47-44 lead after three quarters and closed on a 19-9 fourth-quarter run.
Hans Karlberg led Grace with 15 points and Luke Offord added 14.
Grace Christian Classic
Homer 42, Service 31
Bethel 25, Grace 23
Dimond 55, Homer 32
Soldotna 66, Grace 53
South 76, Kodiak 68, OT
Louis Page scored nine of his game-high 23 points in overtime Saturday, to help South escape with a 76-69 overtime victory against host Kodiak.
South trailed by a dozen points in the third quarter, but forged a 60-60 tie at the end of regulation with the help of some key offensive rebounds.
David Alston finished with 11 points for the Wolverines, with Enrique Morgan and Jack Hobbs each adding 10.
Elijah Hinder led Kodiak with 16 points, Josh Obas contributed 14 and Germaine Jimenez added 13.
South improved to 4-0 and Kodiak fell to 2-3.