SPOKANE -- Kassy Larson recalls quite vividly her first experience at a state basketball tournament.
The 6-foot-2 post was a freshman on Kamiakin's 2008 squad, and she played all of two minutes during a quarterfinal loss to Kennedy.
"I got one rebound and picked up a foul," she recalled. "But it's the most exciting thing ever to be a freshman playing at state."
She figures to make a much bigger impact this time around, especially after scoring 15 points and pulling down 20 rebounds Saturday at Spokane Falls Community College to anchor the Braves' 53-41 victory over Eastmont that landed Kamiakin a trip to the state quarterfinals in Tacoma. It was the Braves' third win over the Wildcats in four tries this season.
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Kamiakin (18-6) will play Glacier Peak (15-9) at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Tacoma Dome.
This time Larson will be the wise one guiding a group of young teammates in their first state experience.
"I told them that it's the hardest thing to do is get to state. It's not for those who are lazy," Larson said. "I've always been impressed by these girls. They can do what most girls can't."
On Saturday, that was beating the team that one day before had beaten Cleveland, the defending state champions.
"Last night I was a little nervous," said Kamiakin coach Tammy Hutchison. "They were moving well and they gutted it out. I was impressed."
But the Braves held Eastmont to just two points in the second quarter to spur a 24-13 halftime lead. The Wildcats scrapped back, outscoring Kamiakin 15-6 in the third quarter and then taking a brief 31-30 lead on Kendra Scott's 3-pointer to open the fourth.
That's when Larson and freshman guard Siri Toure got busy, combining for 12 points during a 15-3 Braves' run that put them back on top 45-34. Toure had eight of her 12 points in the second half and added three steals -- two of them in the final 4 minutes.
Her sister Khadidja, a junior guard, also had 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
"When you're little, you imagine playing together on a team, but now it's like we're here and it's crazy," Khadidja said. "But it's nice to have someone to share it with."
For Hutchison, there's no one she'd rather share it with than this group.
"My heart is happy," she said. "They've worked so hard to get where they're at, and they've been doing it game after game."
Waterhouse 8, Gilbert 6, Kendra Scott 11, Fabian, Degman 9, Gilstrap, Keane 1, Jone 6, Stuart. Totals 14-53 10-14 41.
Courtney Nelson 11, Sira Toure 12, Khadidja Toure 12, K.Nelson 1, Kassy Larson 15, Beach, Oord 2, Miller .Totals 18-41 14-23 53.
Eastmont 11 2 15 15 -- 41
Kamiakin 11 13 6 23 -- 53
Highlights -- Rebounds: E 35 (Jone 9), K 38 (Larson 20); 3-pointers: E 3x18 (Scott 2), K 3x6 (K.Toure 2); Turnovers: E 14, K 15; Assists: E 8 (Gilbert 4, Gilstrap 4), K 8 (K.Nelson 3); S.Toure