Kamiakin girls fall to Franklin 64-51

By Jack Millikin, Tri-City Herald March 2, 2012 

TACOMA -- Not many teams around the state were truly prepared to face the Kamiakin girls basketball team this season.

This time, however, it was the Braves who weren't ready for the Franklin Quakers.

Kamiakin's dreams of an undefeated season and a state championship ended in one fell swoop Thursday at the Tacoma Dome after Franklin outshot, outrebounded, outdefended and otherwise outplayed the Braves in a 64-51 3A state quarterfinal win at the Hardwood Classic.

"This obviously sucks. We've got two games left to finish strong," said Khadidja Toure, the Braves' senior guard. "It's fourth place or nothing at all."

Kamiakin (23-1) will play Shorecrest (20-7) -- a 39-32 quarterfinal loser to Cleveland -- at 12:15 p.m. today for a spot in Saturday's fourth-sixth-place game. Franklin (23-3) will face Cleveland (21-6) in today's semifinals.

"Everything seemed to go (Franklin's) way, and nothing was going our way," Braves coach Tammy Hutchison said. "It's just part of the sport. You're going to have some bad days. It's a little more obvious when you're playing a top team. Your weaknesses are going to be exposed more."

Thursday, the big weakness was a lack of size and strength on the low block to handle 6-foot Quakers forward Qiara Norwood, who hit 11 of 13 shots -- mostly inside the key -- for a game-high 27 points and also grabbed 13 rebounds, seven on the offensive end.

"Q was focused. Quietly focused," Franklin coach Jasen Thomas said.

Norwood did most of her damage in the second half, scoring 17 points and pulling down seven rebounds, but her teammates also did a wonderful job finding her inside.

Franklin got off to a dominating start, outscoring Kamiakin 21-5 in the first quarter. The Braves, to their credit, didn't duck and run. They scrapped their way back into the game, outscoring the Quakers 22-13 in the second quarter.

Toure led Kamiakin with 23 points and four assists. She hit a 3-pointer with 8 seconds left in the second quarter to cut Franklin's lead to 31-27, but Quakers guard Jazmin Horne drove the lane for 2 and picked up the foul. She sank the and-1 to complete the three-point play and push Franklin's lead to 34-27.

"That really helped them. We would have left feeling like we had the momentum," Hutchison said. "A seven-point lead is a lot better than a four-point lead."

Toure played her typical attacking, pressing style on defense, but it wasn't as effective against Quakers guards Horne and Patrice Toston.

"One thing that helped us is that the Metro (League) is all guards," Thomas said. "We're used to that type of defense."

Unable to get points off turnovers and overmatched in the post, the Braves were forced to shoot from outside, a strategy that didn't work. Kamiakin hit just 14-of-52 (26.9 percent) from the field. Toure only managed three field goals on 14 shots, getting most of her points at the free-throw line.

"We had some layups, and we had some open shots," Hutchison said. "But you can't shoot 26 percent against a top-eight contender."

Sira Toure was slowed in the first quarter after getting hit in the nose. She played sparingly over the next two quarters before coming on strong in the fourth quarter. Sira hit two NBA-range bombs in the final 1:20 to cut the lead to 62-51, but by then, it was too late.

Jadea Brundidge added 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Quakers. Amanda Miller led Kamiakin with 10 rebounds.

Against WesCo runner-up Shorecrest today, the Braves will face another team with good size that features two double-digit scorers in Brianne Lasconia (17.0) and Onyie Chibuogwu (10.2).

"We just need to know that we're the second-ranked team in the state," said Kamiakin's Courtney Nelson, who had nine points and three steals. "We worked for it. Now we just need to show it."

FRANKLIN -- Lewis 9, Horne 6, Toston 6, Brundidge 11, Qiara Norwood 27, Ivy 1, Rogers 2, Jones-Lee, Silas 2. Totals 25-54 11-16 64.

KAMIAKIN -- Khadidja Toure 23, S.Toure 11, C.Nelson 9, Oord 4, Miller 4, Roueche, K.Nelson, Schauble, Ellison. Totals 14-52 18-25 51.

Franklin 21 13 16 14 -- 64

Kamiakin 5 22 12 12 -- 51

Highlights -- Rebounds: F 42 (Norwood 13), K 32 (Amanda Miller 10); 3-pointers: F 3x9 (Janee Lewis 3), K 5x14 (K.Toure 2, Sira Toure 2, Courtney Nelson); Turnovers: F 18, K 18; Assists: F 12 (Lewis 2, Ivy 2, Jones-Lee 2, Toston 2), K 7 (K.Toure 4); Jadea Brundidge 4 blocks; C.Nelson 3 steals.

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