TACOMA — Sira Toure was a woman on a mission Friday.
A day after being disappointed in her play at the Class 3A state tournament, Toure took it upon herself to get her team going.
And did she ever.
The Kamiakin High junior scored 15 points in the first quarter, sparking the Braves to a 57-47 victory over Mercer Island in an elimination game at the Tacoma Dome.
All I was thinking was, Play on Saturday, she said. I honestly wanted to do this for our seniors and my team and I thought we deserved to get this win.
Toure came out aggressively taking the ball to the basket, rather than settling for jump shots. Though she also had it going from behind the arc, she wasn't forcing shots.
She made a layup 24 seconds into the game and rarely stopped from there. She made two 3-pointers in the first and scored 11 points during a 13-2 run that gave Kamiakin some early breathing room.
That is incredible. I love watching her, sophomore Holly Ellison said of Toure's hot start. She is definitely an inspiration and gets our team going when she is on.
Kamiakin (17-5) will play University High of Spokane at 8 a.m. Saturday for fourth place. Kamiakin has defeated University twice this season.
The Braves poured in 24 first-quarter points in a start that was similar to the regional victory over Lakes, when Toure scored nine first-quarter points and Kamiakin jumped out to a big early lead.
When she gets that mentality going, it opens up her drives, said Kamiakin coach Lane Schumacher of her aggressive play. She is feeling the confidence and it spreads to the rest of the team.
It definitely wasnt only Toure on Friday, the entire Kamiakin team played better.
Looking supremely confident after struggling through a rough second half in the quarterfinal loss against Seattle Prep on Thursday, the Braves forced 22 turnovers and gave the Islanders fits throughout.
We knew what we are capable of, Ellison said. (Thursday) we didnt play to our full potential. We just wanted to come out and do our thing.
The Braves had four players with at least seven points, and star Courtney Nelson played more of a facilitator role a day after struggling with her shot. Nelson finished with four assists, along with nine points and four rebounds.
The win guarantees the Braves a trophy, though with another win Saturday they can finish fourth. Two years ago, Kamiakin took fifth after losing in the semifinals. Last season, the Braves went two-and-out at state.
After dinner (Thursday) we talked about how we want to play on Saturday and get this monkey off our back, Schumacher said. We focused and came out and played. We were swarming and aggressive and mixing it up and making it hard for them.
The Braves definitely looked like the team that romped through the regular season, regularly dominating opponents in the Mid-Columbia Conference and the playoffs against the Greater Spokane League.
I think our energy (was key), Toure said. And we got used to the gym. We had a hard time with that (Thursday). Our mind was set today. It feels great.
The Braves led by as many as 15 in the first half, taking a 33-18 lead on a Toure 3-pointer. Mercer Island closed to within 12 at the break and eight with 2:28 left in the third quarter, but Kamiakin immediately pushed the lead back out.
Perhaps fitting, the final field goal of the game for Kamiakin was a 3-pointer by Toure with a minute left.
Last night we were bummed about our loss, Ellison said. So we were hungry for a win and we decided to come out strong and get a win.
Its pretty exciting. We are super pumped. (Saturday) we will just have to keep our confidence up, keep our tempo up and keep going strong.
Toure finished with 26 points, including five 3-pointers. Ellison added 11 points, five rebounds and five steals, while Amanda Miller chipped in seven points.
KAMIAKINCourtney Nelson 4 1-1 9, Holly Ellison 4 2-2 11, Melanie Oord 0 0-0 0, Sira Toure 9 3-5 26, Kassi Hanson 0 0-0 0, Makayla Guice 0 0-0 0, Kassidy Arnold 0 0-0 0, Lindsey Schauble 1 0-0 2, Kelsea Crandall 1 0-0 2, Amanda Miller 2 3-4 7, Parker Lee 0 0-0 0, Heather Donais 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 9-12 57.
MERCER ISLANDJamie Mounger 1 0-0 3, Suir Johnson 1 0-0 2, Kris Brackmann 3 0-0 7, Rachael Tessem 1 0-0 2, Jess Blakeslee 5 2-2 13, Yasmeen El-Rafey 0 0-0 0, Ari Moscatel 0 0-1 0, Marlo Cafarelli 0 1-2 1, Julia Blumenstein 5 0-0 11, Christina Williamson 1 2-2 4, Renae Tessem 2 0-0 4. Totals 19 5-7 47.
Kamiakin 25 14 9 9 57
Mercer Island 16 11 9 11 47
3-point goalsKamiakin 6 (Toure 5, Ellison), Mercer Island 4 (Mounger, Brackman, Blakeslee, Blumenstein). ReboundsKamiakin 27 (Ellison, Schauble 5), Mercer Island 35 (Williamson 10). AssistsKamiakin 10 (Nelson 4), Mercer Island 10 (Blakeslee 4). StealsKamiakin 15 (Ellison 5), Mercer Island 4. TurnoversKamiakin 13, Mercer Island 22. Total foulsKamiakin 15, Mercer Island 13.