KENNEWICK — Bryce Leavitt was honored for his recent nomination to the McDonald's All-American High School basketball team a few minutes before Saturday's CBBN 3A contest at the Lions Den in Kennewick.
Then the 6-foot-4 Kennewick senior showed the capacity crowd the reason why he's the best guard in the area.
Leavitt scored 17 points and had nine assists, displaying the kind of playmaking ability the Lions needed to knock off second-ranked Kamiakin 63-51.
"All week in practice, we talked about bringing better energy," said Leavitt, remembering the Braves' decisive 63-49 home win over the Lions earlier this month. "We needed better defense and rebounding, and we had a lot of shots that didn't go."
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When Leavitt wasn't sticking NBA-range 3-pointers, he was driving inside and creating havoc for the Braves defense. This time, however, he had a lot more help on offense. Reggie Clinton and Luiz Santiago each chipped in 12 points, and Domach Domach led all scorers with 18.
"Everybody did a good job contributing. A huge amount of credit goes to Domach. He was going up against two of the best posts in the league (Justin Pedley and Zach En'Wezoh), and he was right there with them," Leavitt said.
It was a welcome reversal of fortune for Domach, who missed several tough layins in his last meeting with Kamiakin and had just six points. But he was steady Saturday, hitting 9 of 14 shots and grabbing three offensive rebounds.
"This gives us a lot of confidence. I was really focused on defense tonight," Domach said. "The guys were making some good passes inside."
Kennewick (14-3, 9-2 CBBN 3A) got out of the gate quickly as Clinton made three steals and drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to fuel a 16-4 run to start the game. The Lions gave themselves a little more of a cushion at halftime, taking a 33-20 lead into the half.
"They wanted it more than we did," said Kamiakin guard Javan Williams, who had 11 points for the Braves. "They wanted to stop our posts and shut them down."
Pedley led Kamiakin with 16 points. But outside of Williams, Pedley and En'Wezoh (12 points), the Braves had trouble finding any offensive production. Kamiakin (16-1, 10-1) got just two points off the bench and missed all 12 attempts from the 3-point line.
"It took us too long to fix the areas we needed to fix," Kamiakin coach Brian Meneely said after the team's first loss of the season. "We've got to learn from this. These games can either be a galvanizing factor or they can linger.
"I believe we will bounce back from this."
Leavitt hit a runner in the lane over En'Wezoh and then drained his third 3-pointer of the game to spark a 16-6 run that pushed the Lions' lead to 51-31 after three quarters.
The Braves weren't quite done, pulling to within 61-51 thanks to an 18-6 fourth-quarter run. But when En'Wezoh was called for goaltending on a Domach layin and then whistled for a technical foul, it was the beginning of the end for Kamiakin.
"I can't say enough. Everybody stepped into their role," said Kennewick coach Bradyn Leyde. "Bryce was able to penetrate and create chances. If there's a sixth-man award for the league, Luiz is it."
Of Leavitt and his All-American nomination, Leyde offered the highest praise.
"It's great someone out there recognized his talent," Leyde said. "The best part is he makes us better. He's a really good basketball player and an even better human being."
KAMIAKIN -- Wilmoth 4, Clyde 6, Williams 11, Justin Pedley 16, En'Wezoh 12, Shoop, Crandall, Quinn, Hunt 2. Totals 22-48 7-10 51.
KENNEWICK -- Pocasangre, Clinton 12, Bryce Leavitt 17, Ramos 2, Domach Domach 18, Mueller, Smith, Santiago 12, Plew 2. Totals 25-52 4-4 63.
Kamiakin 8 12 11 20 -- 51
Kennewick 16 17 18 12 -- 63
Highlights -- Rebounds: Kam 31 (Pedley 6, Zach En'Wezoh 6), Ken 24 (Shaun Smith 5); 3-pointers: Kam 0x12, Ken 9x24 (Luiz Santiago 4); Turnovers: Kam 15, Ken 15; Assists: Kam 12 (Wilmoth 3, Williams 3), Ken 14 (Leavitt 9).