FAIRBANKS — “Fell apart,” were among the first words that head coach Keenan Hollister used to describe the North Pole High School girls basketball team’s final game of the Kenai River Challenge in Kenai.
The Patriots lost 67-27 to the Soldotna Stars, missing an opportunity to capture the title in the three-day, round robin tournament at Kenai Central High School.
North Pole began the tournament Thursday with a 57-37 win over the Nikiski Bulldogs and downed the host Kardinals 35-20 Friday.
On the way to Saturday’s resounding loss, the Patriots saw their top two players, and eventual all-tournament team selections, Raegan Smothers and Josie Broderick, suffer physical misfortunes.
Smothers’ nose started bleeding at halftime and the senior point guard missed all but the last two minutes of the third quarter.
Broderick, a senior forward, bumped knees with another player midway through the second quarter. She tried to play in the third quarter but the pain limited her motion and Hollister sat her out for the fourth quarter.
“She was walking all right but when she ran, she couldn’t straighten her legs out,” Hollister said from Kenai. “Not having those two hurt us, but we came out flat and they (Soldotna) came out fired up.
“We didn’t show our best effort and they kind of punched us in the mouth in the first quarter and we had a hard time bouncing back,” Hollister said.
Erica Croxen was the only Patriot in double figures. The senior guard produced 15 points while she had to defend tournament most valuable player and Stars senior forward Kailee Skjold, who like Broderick, is an Alaska Nanooks recruit for the 2013-14 season.
“Erica was battling the whole game,” Hollister said. “I was impressed that Erica had a tough defensive assignment and contributed offensively. She put the team on her back when Raegan and Josie were hurting.”
Broderick finished with five points for North Pole, which got four points from Willow Stewart and two apiece from Smothers and Ashlynn Mulcare.
Skjold and Julie Litchfield each scored 18 points to fuel the Stars.
The Patriots visit the Eielson Ravens in a nonconference game at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Delta Junction’s Jess Reiter knocked down 27 points, including 11 for 11 from the foul line, to lead the Huskies to a 59-41 Aurora Conference high school basketball victory at the Eielson Ravens Saturday night at Eielson.
After knocking down eight 3-pointers in leading the Huskies to a win against the Lathrop Malemutes, Reiter dropped in four more against the Ravens.
“At least we held her to that,” Eielson coach Connie Browder said.
Beth Hanson added 13 points for Delta Junction, while Raychel Rivera tallied nine and Diana Linnik knocked down eight.
“We’re learning a new man defense and they have four girls who can score, so they took advantage when we made a mistake,” Browder said. “I thought we did a good job of limiting them to one shot, but they made their free throws.”
Delta was 17 for 22 from the foul line and Eielson was 14-24.
Teresa McCoy had the hot hand for Eielson with 21 points. Larissa Franklin grabbed 10 rebounds for Eielson and Katie Browder had six.
The Kotzebue Huskies completed a two-game home sweep of the Monroe Catholic Rams Saturday night by claiming a 33-18 nonconference home sweep.
“They came out in a strong man-to-man and we had trouble executing out offense,” said Monroe Catholic coach Leah Stepovich. “They were ball hungry and we only scored two points in the first and third quarters.”
Colleen Snyder led the Huskies with 15 points and Stephanie Sampson delivered eight. Mia Obermeyer led the Rams with seven points.
Stepovich said playing at Kotzebue was a good experience for her team.
“They gym was packed and I enjoy my time here and so did the girls,” Stepovich said. “It was a great experience for all of us.”
The Rams host the Delta Junction Huskies in an endowment game Friday night.