Swearingin leads seniors into home finale

Kodiak’s Jesse Swearingin glides in for a layup against Kenai in a boys basketball game Feb. 10 at Kodiak High School. (Derek Clarkston photo)

Jesse Swearingin got his shot to perform at the varsity level this season; and the senior made the most of his opportunity.

Swearingin was the only Kodiak basketball player on the Northern Lights Conference’s first team, which was revealed after Saturday’s boys championship game at Wasilla High School.

“Jesse had a tremendous senior year,” Kodiak coach David Anderson said. “Over the course of the season it was up and down, but he was one of the mainstays of our offense.”

Entering the season, Swearingin had played in only seven varsity games. That didn’t slow down the 6-foot-2 guard.

Swearingin led Kodiak in scoring with 14.9 points per game. He scored a career-high 26 points twice and eclipsed the 20-point mark six times.

The highlight of Swearingin’s season was when he dunked at home against Palmer — it was his first dunk at home and second of the season.

The Most Valuable Player award went to Wasilla’s Connor Devine for the second straight year, while Warriors coach Ryan Engebretsen won the Coach of the Year award.

Kodiak’s girls did not have a first-team selection, but two players earned second-team honors.

Senior Puni Timu received her second consecutive second-team honors, while sophomore Hannah Wandersee earned her first second-team award.

Timu, a 5-foot-6 guard, averaged 4.5 points per game.

“She is just a hard worker,” Kodiak coach Stephanie Dandliker said. “A lot of coaches say they love No. 20. She is the strongest girl on the court.”

Wandersee led Kodiak with 8.9 points and around seven rebounds per game.

“There were a lot of games where she got double doubles,” Dandliker said. “She is a great player and I’m hoping to get her in the gym this summer to get her ready for next year.”

Soldotna’s Kaille Skjold and Wasilla’s Alyssa Hutchins shared the girls MVP award, while Soldotna first-year coach Doug Blossom won the Coach of the Year award.

Boys

Coach of the Year — Ryan Engebretsen, Wasilla

MVP — Connor Devine, Wasilla.

First team — Evan Withrow, Soldotna; Jared Straight, Palmer; Braydon Kuiper, Wasilla; AJ Hull, Kenai; Dane Kuiper, Wasilla; Connor Looney, Palmer; Tim Smith, Colony; Hunter Eisenhower, Colony; Jesse Swearingin, Kodiak.

Second team — Jared Turner, Colony; Nathan Umbarger, Colony; Colton Hayes, Kenai; Bo Reilly, Kenai; Jordan Jones, Skyview; Cory Carver, Soldotna; Dillon Ferro, Wasilla.

Girls

Coach of the Year — Doug Blossom, Soldotna

Co-MVP’s — Kaille Skjold, Soldotna; Alyssa Hutchins, Wasilla.

First team — Alysha Devine, Wasilla; Bailey Beeson, Kenai; Julie Litchfield, Soldotna; Alexis Imoe, Wasilla; Morgan Wensley, Kenai; Mary Klapperich, Colony; Taylor Blake, Palmer; Jerica Nelson, Colony.

Second team — Puni Timu, Kodiak; Hannah Wandersee, Kodiak; Kasara Brandenburg, Palmer; Stefany Malatesta, Skyview; Kelci Benson, Soldotna; Kyla Dinkle, Wasilla.

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