Kamiakin girls advance to district title game (w/ gallery)

By Craig Craker, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 12, 2012 

KENNEWICK — The Kamiakin girls basketball team picked a good time to play their best offense of the season.

The Braves blitzed the Sunnyside Grizzlies in an 84-56 rout Saturday in a District 5/6 Tournament semifinal in Kennewick.

"We just wanted to come out strong," Kamiakin's Sira Toure said. "We were trying to press them and force them to make turnovers and keep them out of their offensive flow."

The Braves (21-0 overall) used an 18-2 run during the first quarter to blow open the game, using multiple defensive looks to wreak havoc amongst the young Grizzlies.

"We did a good job of getting steals and transitioning," Kamiakin's Khadidja Toure said. "Everyone starts over (in the playoffs), and we have to show we are the team that won league and show everyone it wasn't a joke."

The Grizzlies certainly weren't laughing Saturday, as Khadidja Toure drove the lane for a three-point play to start the run. Little sister, Sira, then hit a 3-pointer, then Courtney Nelson got in on the fun with a layup.

In all, Kamiakin's Big Three had 16 of the 18 points in the run, with Amanda Miller adding the other basket as the Braves finished the first with a 36-21 lead.

"That was our gameplan," Kamiakin coach Tammy Hutchison said of the strong start. "We wanted to come out and play our game. We knew Sunnyside would crash the boards, and that would help our transition. We knew we needed to secure the rebound, and then it was off to the races."

Kamiakin outrebounded the smaller Grizzlies 45-30 and forced 25 turnovers, turning many of them into easy baskets on the fastbreak the other way.

The victory keeps Kamiakin undefeated on the season and sends the Braves into the District 5/6 Tournament championship game against Eastmont at 5 p.m. Friday at Kamiakin.

"Everyone is a huge contributor," Hutchison said. "They are starting to understand, everyone has to do their part. They are becoming a team and understanding how important it is for everyone to be a part of the action."

That balance and the experience of the Toure sisters and Nelson, who all played significant minutes on last season's state qualifying team, was too much for the Grizzlies, who started four freshmen and a sophomore.

"It's tough to come back when you allow a really good team to score 30 points," Sunnyside coach Rick Puente said. "We settled down in the second quarter and battled back, but it is the small things you have to make sure on. And they took advantage of that."

Nelson had a game-high 27 points and seven rebounds to lead Kamiakin, while Sira Toure added 24 points and Khadidja Toure had 23. Melanie Oord pulled down a game-high seven rebounds.

Vanessa Alvarez's 23 points led the Grizzlies, while Jordan Rodriguez finished with 12.

SUNNYSIDE -- Vanessa Alvarez 10 3-4 23, Natalia Bazan 0 2-2 2, Selena Rubalcava 1 0-0 3, Celia Vargas 2 0-0 5, Hannah Fernandez 1 0-0 2, Jordan Rodriguez 4 1-2 12, Victoria Garcia 1 0-0 2, Tiana Perez 2 0-1 4, Sydnee Hernandez 2 0-0 4, Audi Sanchez 0 0-0 0, Katarina Morales 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 5-8 56.

KAMIAKIN -- Sira Toure 10 1-5 24, Courtney Nelson 11 4-5 27, Amanda Miller 3 0-0 6, Khadidja Toure 11 1-3 23, Melanie Oord 0 0-0 0, Kaylee Nelson 1 0-0 2, Makayla Guice 1 0-0 2, Lindsey Schauble 0 0-2 0, Cameron Roueche 0 0-0 0, Kassie Hanson 0 0-0 0, Kelsey Crandall 0 0-0 0. Totals 37 6-15 84.

Sunnyside 21 12 10 13 -- 56

Kamiakin 36 10 19 19 -- 84

3-point goals -- Sunnyside 5 (Rodriguez 3, Rubalcava, Vargas), Kamiakin 4 (S. Toure 3, C. Nelson). Total fouls -- Sunnyside 16, Kamiakin 10. Fouled out -- none. Rebounds -- Sunnyside 30 (Perez, Vargas 4), Kamiakin 45 (Oord, C. Nelson 7). Turnovers -- Sunnyside 25, Kamiakin 19.

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