Cheyanne Frantzich used a career night to help the Palmer Moose earn a spot in the 4A girls state basketball tournament for the first time in about a decade.
Frantzich, who also made her first career start, scored 15 points to help lead Palmer to a 65-45 win over rival Wasilla during the Northern Lights Conference Championships semifinals Friday afternoon at Colony High School.
“Cheyanne played the game of her life,” Palmer head coach Keith Williams said by phone Saturday evening. “She has put so much work in. I’m just really proud.”
With the win, Palmer moves into the NLC title game and will face Colony Saturday at 5 p.m. at CHS. The Moose also earned a state tournament berth for the first time since 2012.
“They’re really excited. It hasn’t happened for the community in a long time,” Williams said of the opportunity to play in the state tourney. “It was a beautiful thing to see today.”
Williams said it's a testament to the work of his athletes since they entered the program.
“We talked about all of the work they put in. They can now see if you want something you can achieve it, but it does take hard work and dedication,” Williams said.
Frantzich scored eight of Palmer’s 22 first-quarter points.
“The first basket got her enthusiasm up and it took off from there,” Williams said. “As she played better, everybody played better.”
Frantzich and the Moose also got to the free throw line. The junior was 4 for 4 during the first.
“She has such a soft touch, especially from the free throw line,” Williams said.
Palmer was 8 for 8 from the line during the first eight minutes. The Moose jumped out to a 22-9 first-quarter lead.
“Working on breaking that press, transition baskets and just playing great defense,” Williams said. “It was just amazing.”
Palmer led by 13 at the half, and used 19 third-quarter points to extend the advantage to 21 points.
“We stress to our girls, we’re not going to look at the scoreboard,” Williams said. “We want to give 100 percent effort regardless of what the score is. We want you to know by our effort on the court, you can’t tell if we are winning or losing.”
Kinzey Hutchings scored a game-high 20 points in the win. The sophomore was 7 for 8 at the free throw line. Palmer was 24 for 38 at the line in the game. Lily Anderson added 14 for the Moose. Hutchings also hit three of Palmer’s five three-pointers.
Williams also praised the work of Pamer’s lone senior, captain Catherine Uschmann. Williams said Uschmann does most of the things that don’t show up on the scoresheet.
“Cat is at the head of this thing. Even though she has given up her points for the sake of the team, she is at the head of this thing,” Williams said.
Megan Alley led Wasilla with 10 points in the loss. Alex Randall scored eight and Sierra Baird added seven.
Wasilla will now play the winner of the Soldotna-Kodiak elimination game in the NLC third-place game Saturday at 1 p.m.
Colony girls 51, Soldotna 28
Colony advanced to the NLC girls title game with a 51-28 win over Soldotna Friday.
Indiya Clarke scored a game-high 21 for the Knights, including 10 of Colony’s 15-third quarter points. Maggie Spencer hit four three-pointers and added 17 points.
Colony also clinched a spot in the 4A girls state tourney.
Colony boys 71, Kodiak 43
Colony raced to a 71-43 win over Kodiak in the NLC boys semifinals Friday.
Jeremiah Hersrud hit four three-pointers and led the Knights with 16 points. Patrick McMahon and Jayce Underwood scored 13 points each. Luke Reaves added 10.
With the win, the Knights move into the NLC title game and will play Wasilla Saturday at 7 p.m. at CHS. Colony also scored a spot in the 4A boys state tourney.
Wasilla boys 58, Pamer 38
Wailla used a big first quarter to grab a 58-38 win over Palmer in the NLC semifinals Friday.
The Warriors opened the game on a 17-0 run and did not allow a Palmer point until Shea Halbert hit a free throw with 2:55 left in the first quarter. Palmer’s first bucket, an Evan Rothenbholder field goal, came with 49 seconds left in the opening quarter.
The Moose were able to cut into the advantage with a 17-point second quarter, but Wasilla was able to maintain its lead.
Andrew Devine led Wasilla with 14 points in the win. Parker Kroon added 10. Dylan Jeffus sparked Wasilla early with a pair of threes in the first.
Elijah Evans led Palmer with 10. Elijah Barnes added 10.
Palmer will face the winner of the Soldotna-Kodiak elimination game Saturday at 3 p.m. at Colony High.
Attendance is greatly limited at the NLC tourney due to the Mat-Su Borough School District’s COVID-19 mitigation plan, but the entire tournament will be live streamed at https://vimeo.com/event/802178.
Contact Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at email@example.com,.