Kamiakin girls season comes to an abrupt end

By Jack Millikin, Tri-City HeraldMarch 3, 2012 

TACOMA -- This isn't what was supposed to happen.

The Kamiakin girls basketball team arrived at the Class 3A state basketball tournament Wednesday prepared for a three-day run through the Hardwood Classic and a trophy finish.

The Braves forgot one thing: The game that got them there.

After a 23-0 start, Kamiakin's season ended with a second consecutive loss at state, an unceremonious 59-48 dumping by Shorecrest that left the Braves without many answers.

"We were thinking we could have won the whole thing," said Kamiakin sophomore guard Sira Toure, who led her team with 14 points and three steals before fouling out with two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

"We didn't come out ...," she said, looking for a way to complete the sentence. Then she found one. "We just didn't come out."

The Braves got off to another slow start, missing their first six shots in the first quarter before Courtney Nelson drilled a 3-pointer from the right corner at the 3:40 mark. By that time, the Highlanders had already found their rhythm, eventually building a 12-3 lead on Keegan Monson's trey with 2:40 left in the frame.

Kamiakin trailed 14-11 heading into the second quarter but Toure, Kaylee Nelson and Amanda Miller each converted buckets to give the Braves a 17-14 lead with 6:15 left in the second quarter.

All seemed well with the world. However, Kamiakin too often allowed Shorecrest to settle into a halfcourt offense it was comfortable with rather than forcing it out of its comfort zone.

"Our pressure created quite a few turnovers until we got to state," Braves coach Tammy Hutchison said. "But they didn't create easy points here."

Sparked by Janie Uppinghouse's three 3-pointers, the Highlanders went on a 19-7 run until the end of the quarter, retaking the lead 33-24.

"We'd keep making runs to keep chipping away, and then they'd hit another 3," said Braves senior guard Khadidja Toure, who has signed to play at Oregon State next year. "It hasn't quite hit me yet. That's probably why I'm so calm. This is going to hurt for a while."

Kamiakin didn't help itself by shooting 30 percent from the field. Transition points aside, it helps to be able to hit a jumper now and then. Of the Braves' 20 field goals, only six came on shots outside 12 feet, and they missed all but one of 17 from 3-point range.

"Part of it is the big stadium, but we can't use that as an excuse because other teams aren't used to it either," said Miller, who finished with seven points and nine rebounds. "It's upsetting we didn't get to go where we wanted to go. But we still love each other."

Miller was a critical part of the Braves' fourth-quarter comeback that got them back in the game. She had four points and five rebounds in the fourth quarter alone, and picked up one of her two steals during a 7-0 run that closed the gap to 53-48 with 2:10 left.

"We were pumped up that we were so close," Miller said. "We just didn't slow things down on offense. We're better when we don't rush."

Kamiakin was forced to foul Shorecrest down the stretch, and Brianne Lasconia sank four of six free throws in the final 33 seconds to ice it. Lasconia led all players with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

In the end, the Braves didn't come out with a trophy, but they'll still have lots of good memories.

"I'll remember we started 23-0. I'll remember Kaylee's smile and positive attitude, and that she braided everybody's hair before the game. Who's going to take care of that next year?" Hutchison said. "I'll always remember Khadidja's heart and determination."

KAMIAKIN -- Khadidja Toure 9, Sira Toure 14, Courtney Nelson 9, Melanie Oord 1, Amanda Miller 7, Kaylee Nelson 4, Cameron Roueche, Lindsay Schauble 4, Holly Ellison. Totals 20-66 7-13 48.

SHORECREST -- Brianne Lasconia 20, Onyie Chibuogwu 8, Mickey Greenburg 2, Janie Uppinghouse 15, India Matheson 9, Allison Jones, Lindsey Shattuck 2, Keegan Monson 3, Annie Schlachter, Haley Magaoay, Kathryn Lindsey. Totals 18-42 16-23 59.

Kamiakin 11 13 14 10 -- 48

Shorecrest 14 19 15 11 -- 59

3-point goals -- Kamiakin 1-17 (C. Nelson), Shorecrest 7-19 (Uppinghouse 5, Lasconia, Monson). Total fouls -- Kamiakian 23, Shorecrest 18. Fouled out -- Kamiakin, C. Nelson, S. Toure; Shorecrest, Chibuogwu. Rebounds -- Kamiakin 39 (K. Toure 12), Shorecrest 41 (Lasconia 11). Turnovers -- Kamiakin 14, Shorecrest 23. Assists -- Kamiakin 10 (K. Toure 4), Shorecrest 11 (Chibuogwu). Steals -- Kamiakin 14 (S. Toure 3), Shorecrest 5 (Greenburg 3).

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