RICHLAND Sometimes, top-ranked teams with glossy records win one like the Kamiakin basketball team did Friday night -- seemingly making one or two more plays down the stretch to pull out a close one
More often, though, teams that play in-your-jersey defense create those key plays that brings opportunity knockin'.
Javan Williams made one of those plays, stealing an inbound pass at half court and tipping it to teammate Cody Wilmoth for a go-ahead layup in the closing moments of the Braves' 58-54 win over the Foss Falcons in a Class 3A regional playoff game at Art Dawald Gym.
Top-ranked Kamiakin (28-1) joins the eight-team field of the state tournament, which begins Thursday at the Tacoma Dome.
"We're going to need a heart monitor," a relieved coach Brian Meneely said after guiding the Braves back to state for the second consecutive season.
Williams' play could not have come at a bigger moment for Kamiakin, which saw an eight-point lead turn into a two-point deficit during a 2 1/2-minute showcase by Foss' Dezmyn Trent.
The 6-foot-4 junior forward with slick moves in the lane and a shooting touch well beyond the 3-point arc, scored 10 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, including seven during the Falcons' 10-0 run.
Kamiakin came out of a timeout with 1:31 to play, and promptly turned the ball over -- the Braves' 23rd of the night.
The Falcons missed a jumper at the other end, and Williams pulled down the rebound, kept his head up and found Wilmoth breaking down the court. The outlet was dead on, and Wilmoth's layup tied the score at 54-all.
Foss then called timeout and was set to inbound with 17.4 seconds on the clock. Rather than trying to defend against the score, the Braves attacked the inbounder.
"We were going to pressure the ball," Williams said, "so I had to get into him. I just timed it. I didn't think I was going to get it, but then I jumped up and got it."
Got a hand on it, and then batted it to Wilmoth.
"Right when I got the ball, I saw him out of the corner of my eye," Williams said. "I did everything I could do to get him the ball."
"I just broke to the hoop," Wilmoth added. "Javan is so athletic, I knew he would get the ball before the other kid."
Meneely said the deciding play was born from an attack mentality.
"We wanted to fire into it and get a trap, be aggressive with them," he said. "We were either going to be down or ahead, but we wanted to have the ball at the end.
"And I thought that mentality helped us. Javan went out there with the mindset that he was going to make a play, and what a play he made."
One of many defensive gems for the Braves, who held the Falcons (17-8) to 44 percent shooting from the field and outrebounded the West-siders 34-21.
It helped the Braves overcome a dreadful offensive performance. Despite shooting 54 percent from the field (22-for-41) and 60 percent on 3s (6-for-10), Kamiakin continually committed unforced turnovers -- the kind that often end a season this time of year.
"We've got to get our offensive execution squared away," Meneely said. "Thirteen turnovers in the first half -- we were up five, but it felt like we should have been up more."
Justin Pedley led the Braves with 22 points and eight rebounds against a Foss team without any real inside presence. Williams added 13 points and seven boards, and Wilmoth scored 12.
But the stats -- points, rebounds, turnovers -- all took a backseat to the determination to make one more play.
"We weren't hoping to win," Wilmoth said. "We knew we would win."
KAMIAKIN -- Clyde 3, Wilmoth 12, Williams 13, En'Wezoh 8, Quinn, Hunt, Justin Pedley 22. Totals 22-41 8-14 58.
FOSS -- Dezmyn Trent 24, Ballard, Richmond 9, Byrd 2, Williams 6, Hunthausen, Hankins 1, Osby, Chambers 12. Totals 22-50 3-9 54.
Kamiakin 18 14 11 15 -- 58
Foss 9 18 13 14 -- 54
Highlights -- Kamiakin: Cooper Clyde 5 rbs, 4 stls, 3 assts; Cody Wilmoth 3 rbs; Javan Williams 7 rbs, 2 stls; Zach En'Wezoh 4 rbs; Pedley 8 rbs, 2 assts. Foss: Tevin G. Richmond 5 rbs; Sean Williams 5 rbs, 5 stls; Marcus Chambers 3 stls
w Kevin Anthony: 582-1403; firstname.lastname@example.org