Kamiakins Courtney Nelson was on a mission Friday against Walla Walla.
She had decided before the game that she was not going to be shut down again.
Nelson scored 18 first-half points to help lead the Braves to a dominating 63-55 Mid-Columbia Conference victory against the visiting Blue Devils.
She finished with 23 points and eight rebounds in her first game since struggling in a loss at Hanford last Saturday.
Against Hanford, I felt like I couldnt make any shots and I felt like I let my team down, Nelson said. I needed to lead my team more than Saturday.
Nelson had no problem doing that as she scored almost half of the Braves first-half points, playing much more aggressive than in the loss at Hanford.
She wants to keep everyone involved, and it can look like shes playing passive at times, said Kamiakin coach Lane Schumacher, pointing out she set the school record for assists in a game (14) last week against Pasco. Sometimes I need her to take over. She got us going, and I was thrilled to see that. It seems to get everyone else more confidence when she gets going.
Kamiakin (6-1 league, 11-2 overall) has another big game tonight, hosting Chiawana in a matchup of the teams tied atop the standings at the midway point of the season.
We knew it would be a big weekend, Nelson said, and we wanted to show we are state-bound and the team to beat. We wanted to get ready for both teams.
They certainly were ready for Walla Walla (5-2, 9-2).
Leading 37-29 at halftime in a back-and-forth contest, the Braves quickly blew the game open in the third quarter, going on a 16-5 run.
Nelson opened the third with a layup and two free throws, Sira Toure and Holly Ellison drilled 3-pointers, Lindsey Schauble made two layups and Toure closed the quarter with a steal and a lay-in.
Kamiakin used a stifling full-court press and ball pressure to corral the much bigger Blue Devils.
We focused on that all week, Schumacher said of the defense. We laid an egg Saturday night and let Hanford do whatever they wanted. We talked to the kids about ball pressure and fronting on the posts, and I thought we did a lot better.
Kamiakin forced 27 turnovers and had Walla Walla rattled until a late run in the fourth quarter, combined with the Braves missing free throws to make the game close.
Kamiakin did a great job pressuring us, Walla Walla coach Jill Meliah said. It wasnt until the fourth quarter when we finally settled down. We havent seen that kind of pressure in awhile, but it was good for us. Gives us something to work on.
For awhile Friday, Mikayla Ferenz kept the Blue Devils in the game, hitting four first-half 3-pointers. But Toure locked her down in the second half, limiting her to just five points three of which came with 20 seconds left in the game.
Kamiakin also got big play from Schauble and Ellison inside the paint, as Schauble held her own against the Walla Walla squad that featured six players 5-foot-10 and taller. While Ellison is a guard, she provided key rebounding for Kamiakin and finished with seven.
But it was the play of Nelson both offensively and defensively that got the Braves back on the winning track.
Their senior leader stepped up, Meliah said of Nelson. We talked all week about not letting her beat us, and she did it anyway.
Toure finished with 19 points, including her solid defense against Ferenz. Schauble had eight points and six rebounds and Ellison had eight points.
Ferenzs 17 points led Walla Walla, while Maddy Sirmon scored 13 in her first start of the season.
WALLA WALLA Madi Doepker 1 2-3 4, Torri Crawford 3 1-2 7, Maddy Sirmon 6 1-1 13, Mikayla Ferenz 6 0-1 17, Kate Ferenz 2 0-0 4, Kiana Molitor 1 1-2 3, Allie Greene 0 0-0 0, Jaiden Hodnefield 3 0-0 7. Totals 22 5-9 55.
KAMIAKIN Holly Ellison 2 3-4 8, Sira Toure 7 4-6 19, Courtney Nelson 9 3-5 23, Amanda Miller 1 2-2 4, Lindsey Schauble 4 1-4 9, Melanie Oord 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 13-21 63.
Walla Walla 16 13 5 21 55
Kamiakin 19 18 16 10 63
3-point goals Walla Walla 6 (M. Ferenz 5, Hodnefield), Kamiakin 4 (Nelson 2, Toure, Ellison). Total fouls Walla Walla 19, Kamiakin 14. Fouled out Walla Walla, K. Ferenz; Kamiakin, Ellison. Rebounds Walla Walla 37 (K. Ferenz, Sirmon, Crawford, Doepker 5), Kamiakin 39 (Nelson 8). Blocked shots Walla Walla 7 (Crawford 3), Kamiakin 5 (Miller, Schauble 2). Turnovers Walla Walla 27, Kamiakin 17.