TACOMA -- When things looked bleak Thursday, Kassy Larson and Courtney Nelson willed the Kamiakin girls basketball team to victory.
After Kamiakin coughed up a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, Larson and Nelson combined for eight points in overtime to lead the Braves to a 55-50 Class 3A state tournament quarterfinal victory against Glacier Peak of Snohomish at the Tacoma Dome.
"I'm definitely relieved," Nelson said. "I'm just happy that we pulled through and got the win."
Nelson, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, got the Braves going in overtime, grabbing a rebound and racing the length of the court for a layup and a 47-45 lead with 3 minutes, 9 seconds left.
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"I almost took a timeout," Kamiakin coach Tammy Hutchison said. "I saw the floor and saw how open it was and just told her to, 'Go!'
"Courtney and Kassy both stepped up and took control."
After the Grizzlies retied the score, Larson scored on a putback and, 30 seconds later, made a layup for a 51-47 lead with 1:52 left. After the teams exchanged turnovers and missed shots, Nelson again grabbed a rebound and went coast-to-coast for another layup and a 53-47 lead with 42 seconds remaining.
"I definitely wanted to come out aggressive," Nelson said. "This is huge. We wanted to win this first one. It's phenomenal for the whole team."
The Braves (19-6) will face Prairie at 3:45 p.m. today in a state semifinal. Holy Names and North Central play at 5:30 p.m. in the other semifinal.
"They regrouped," Hutchison said of the Braves. "Any team could have fell to the ground, but they came back as a team. On the bench (before overtime), they said we could do it."
The Braves seemed in control of the game in the fourth quarter, using a 14-3 run to turn a 27-26 deficit into a 40-30 lead with 4:05 left. Five players scored during the run as the Braves moved the ball and were aggressive.
But an easy victory was not to be, as Glacier Peak's Olivia VanDlac hit back-to-back 3-pointers to pull the Grizzlies within 40-36 with 2:23 left.
A turnover in the backcourt led to Glacier Peak's Katie Hawkins making a layup and pulling the Grizzlies within two. Thirty seconds later, Hawkins converted a three-point play and the Grizzlies led 41-40 with 1:35 left.
"When (Glacier Peak) started pressing, we stopped being aggressive, and it led to turnovers," Hutchison said.
After a timeout, Larson went to work.
The 6-1 senior scored on an offensive putback to give the Braves a 42-41 lead with 1:14 left.
Then, after stealing the ball on the perimeter, she drew a foul on offense and converted 1-of-2 free throws for a 43-41 lead with 36 seconds remaining.
Hawkins retied the score yet again for Glacier Peak, and after Khadidja Toure missed two free throws, Larson grabbed the rebound, forcing a jump ball. Toure then missed a 3-pointer, but Larson again got the rebound and scored for a 45-43 lead.
"I didn't feel the pressure," Larson said. "I just came out with the mentality that we needed to do our job."
The Grizzlies tied it on a layup at the buzzer, setting up overtime, where Larson and Nelson did their jobs and the Braves moved on to the semifinals for the first time since 1996.
Larson finished with a game-high 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Nelson had 13 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals, while her older sister, junior Kaylee Nelson, pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds.
Toure had nine points and six steals.
"They are bigger and faster than you think they are," Glacier Peak coach Brian Hill said. "They did a great job on us defensively. It was exciting, but we were gassed at the end."
Hawkins led the Grizzlies (15-10) with 12 points and seven rebounds.