Kamiakin girls studying up for state

By Jack Millikin, Tri-City HeraldMarch 1, 2012 

Game film can tell you a lot, but it won't tell you everything.

Khadidja Toure, the star guard of the Kamiakin girls basketball team, loves watching film of opponents, but she knows better than to expect the same thing from a player on game day than what she saw on tape.

"Things are slower on camera, and you don't get to see how physical things are. Mainly, watching skill sets is the most important thing," said Toure, the CBBN 3A player of the year averaging 21.8 points a game.

Here's the real unsettling thought for guards who face the Oregon State-bound senior: She's watching you. On film, on the floor, during pre-game. She might even be watching you coming off the bus.

"I'm waiting for it," Toure said of the second-ranked Braves' matchup against Franklin at 3:45 p.m. today in the 3A Hardwood Classic at the Tacoma Dome.

Toure, known for her relentless pressure on defense and attacking mentality on offense, isn't the only Kamiakin player who hungers for another shot at a state championship. The Braves locked up a fifth-place finish at state last season -- their highest finish since placing fifth in 1999.

Impressive for a young group, but they knew they were capable of something even bigger. This year, they feel it's their time.

"I think we're just ready. There's a maturity with us," Toure said. "We had our chance to experience state last year. This year it's like, 'Game time, lets go.' "

Kamiakin cruised through six nonleague games, 14 CBBN 3A contests and now three playoff games without a defeat. When they got a little complacent at midseason, coach Tammy Hutchison gave them a little dose of reality that snapped them back into focus.

"We realized we need to take advantage of these games and get better at the little things," Hutchison said. "I believe we're peaking right now."

It's difficult to argue after the Braves completely flustered and dismantled Lakes in the 3A regional Saturday to qualify for state. Using their trademark full-court pressure, Kamiakin forced 17 first-half turnovers and cruised to a 76-46 victory.

Toure joined her sister Sira and junior guard Courtney Nelson on the CBBN 3A all-league and all-defensive team.

Franklin's size does present a unique problem for Kamiakin. The Quakers' starting five, plus their sixth man, average nearly 5-foot-11, which could create a serious matchup issue for the Braves.

"We haven't had to compete against teams that had posts that big. They like to drive and dish, and if we fall behind they start leaning on their 6-2 girl (JaDae Brundidge)," Hutchison said. "They don't press, but they'll put pressure on the ball right away. If you make the crosscourt pass without the right angle, they'll go after those passes."

Nelson will draw the defensive assignment on 6-foot wing Qiara Norwood, who uses her athleticism to create chances.

"She reminds me a lot of (Kennewick forward) Angelique Whistocken. I'm good friends with (Angelique) and I know how she plays," Nelson said. "Of course, nobody plays every game exactly the same. You come out and adapt to different teams. That means you're going to have a different game every time."

Streak: Franklin won 18 in a row. Kamiakin undefeated in 23 games.

Key players: Franklin -- Patrice Toston (11.6); Janee Lewis (10.8); JaDae Brundidge (9.8); Jasmine Horne (8.0); Qiara Norwood (7.0). Kamiakin -- G Khadidja Toure (21.8), F Courtney Nelson (15.2), G Sira Toure (11.9).

State appearances (including 2012): Franklin 11. Kamiakin 14.

Last state appearance: Franklin 2009. Kamiakin 2011.

State trophies: Franklin 7 (second, 1981, 1995; third, 1986; fourth, 1980; fifth 1985, 2009; sixth, 1984, 1988-89). Kamiakin 11 (first in 1985; second in 1996; third in 1988, 1992-93; fourth in 1987, 1994-95; fifth in 1999, 2011; seventh in 2008).

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