Kodiak’s boys inched closer to the 4A state basketball tournament Thursday afternoon.

Led by the sharp-shooting Austin Frick, Kodiak sprung past Kenai 76-57 on the first day of the Northern Lights Conference Championships at Soldotna High School.

Frick sank five 3-pointers and scored all of his game-high 24 points in the first three quarters as Kodiak (16-9) rolled to its seventh consecutive victory and came four points shy of eclipsing 80 points for the third straight game.

Up next for the red-hot Bears is a semifinal date with second-seed Palmer today at 2:30 p.m. The winner advances to Saturday’s championship game and earns an automatic berth to the state tournament that begins March 21 in Anchorage.

Kodiak is searching for its first state appearance since 2011. That year the Bears went 1-9 in conference play and rebounded with a runner-up finish at the NLC championships.

Kodiak coach David Anderson hopes Palmer is a bit rusty after having to sit and watch the first day.

“The first one is always the nerveracking one,” Anderson said. “I don’t care what coaches say, there are a lot of jitters in the first opening minutes and we got that out of the way today. Hopefully, Palmer will have jitters and we will be able to jump on them early.”

Kodiak gave Palmer, which earned a first-round bye along with top seed Colony, plenty to think about. The Moose beat the Bears twice this season, but once was in overtime after Kodiak couldn’t hold a fourth-quarter lead. Starting guard Jemuel Medina missed both those games.

“We are hoping he will be a difference maker,” Anderson said.

The Bears’ fast-paced attack set the tone early Thursday, as Kodiak shook off an 18-point defeat to Kenai — the Kardinals only victory against a 4A school — during the regular season. Kodiak led by double figures for the majority of the contest and shot 50 percent from the field (28 for 56).

Frick scored 15 points in the opening half and finished hitting five of his seven 3-point attempts.

“He played well today,” Anderson said. “They backed off and he was able to get his feet set. Jemuel Medina and Jemuel Mangalus did a great job kicking it out to him.”

Medina almost recorded a double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds. He also added four assists and two blocks. Josh Obas chipped in 10 points, while Jemuel Mangalus added nine points.

Whyatt Fitt led Kenai with 13 points, while Shane Spalding chipped in 10 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out with two technical fouls in the fourth quarter. The Kardinals ourtrebounded Kodiak 39-25 — 16-7 on the offensive glass.

After Kenai closed the gap to eight points in the third quarter, Frick answered with his fifth long ball that ignited a quarter-ending 20-10 run to seal the Bears’ second victory over the Kardinals this season.

Kodiak led by as many as 22 points in the fourth quarter and finished the game with its starters on the bench.

“We got some good rest for those guys,” Anderson said.

Alec Canete-Hall scored all of his eight points in the final period, which included hitting four of six free throws.

Soldotna, Wasilla

Soldotna put on a shooting display from beyond the arc to dispose of Wasilla 67-36.

The Stars connected on 10 of their 16 3-point attempts. Four Soldotna players each hit two long balls apiece.

Corey Carver paved the way with a game-high 21 points, while Colton Young tallied 14 and Noah Fowler 10.

Dane Kuiper went for 12 points for Wasilla.

Wasilla lead by one after the first quarter, but Soldotna put up 21 points in the second to take a 31-23 halftime lead.

The Stars outscored the Warriors 19-5 in the third to take control of the contest.

Soldotna moves to a semifinal game against top seed Colony today, while Wasilla, the four-time defending NLC champion, finishes its season in a consolation game against Kenai.

Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at sports@kodiakdailymirror.com.

BEARS 76, KARDINALS 57

Kenai 4 21 15 26 — 57

Kodiak 13 23 22 18 — 76

Kenai (57) — Theisen 0 0-0 0, Battistelli 4 0-0 10, J. McKee 3 4-4 10, A. McKee 1 0-0 2, O’Neil 0 0-0 0, Spalding 4 2-2 10, Shirnberg 0 0-2 0, Spry 1 0-0 3, Berg 1 0-0 3, Kibling 3 0-0 6, Fitt 5 3-3 13. Totals — 22 9-11 57.

Kodiak (76) — Mangalus 3 3-3 9, Frick 8 3-3 24, Medina 4 2-2 10, Jimenez 3 0-0 6, Obas 4 0-1 10, Lenon 0 0-0 0, A. Hall 2 4-4 8, Garcia 1 0-0 2, T. Hall 0 0-0 0, Hiner 3 1-2 7, Mutch 0 0-0 0. Totals 28 15-17 76.

Three-point goals — Kenai 4 (J. McKee 2, Spry, Berg); Kodiak 5 (Frick 5).

Total fouls — Kenai 15; Kodiak 13. Fouled out — J. McKee, Spalding.

STARS 67, WARRIORS 36

Wasilla 11 12 5 8 — 67

Soldotna 10 21 19 17 — 36

Wasilla (36) — Baham 1 0-0 3, Brown 1 0-1 2, Carney 0 0-0 0, Kuiper 4 3-6 12, Garnett 0 1-2 1, McGregor 4 0-1 8, Dawkins 1 1-2 3, Loyer 0 0-0 0, Fife 0 0-0 0, Cook 1 1-4 3, Hanson 2 0-0 4. Totals — 14 6-16 36.

Soldotna (67) — Tovoli 0 0-0 0, Penrod 1 2-2 4, Young 6 0-0 14, Conradi 1 0-0 2, Carver 8 3-4 21, Furlong 0 0-0 0, Spence 2 0-0 6, Kruse 1 2-2 5, Martin 1 1-2 4, N. Fowler 4 0-0 10, McElroy 0 1-2 1, D. Fowler 0 0-0 0. Totals — 24 9-12 67.

Three-point goals — Wasilla 2 (Kuiper, Baham); Soldotna 10 (Young 2, Carver 2, Spence 2, N. Fowler 2, Kruse, Martin).

Team fouls — Wasilla 11; Soldotna 17. Fouled out — Conradi.

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