The Kamiakin girls basketball team lives by its pressure defense.
And Thursday, it died by it.
The Braves ran out of gas in the fourth quarter losing a Class 3A state quarterfinal to Seattle Prep 46-39 at the Tacoma Dome.
Playing just seven players, and riding the starting five for most of the game against a much bigger Seattle Prep team eventually wore the Braves down and cost them a shot at the state title.
“I think we just got a little tired,” junior Sira Toure said. “We ran out of gas.”
The Braves (16-5 overall) will face the Mercer Island at 9 a.m. Friday in an elimination game.
Kamiakin had two chances to tie the game late, but Kassi Hanson’s jumper was short and Courtney Nelson’s 3-pointer rimmed off.
“They were fighters,” Nelson said of Seattle Prep. “They came the entire game and it was back and forth, back and forth. They just wanted it a little bit more than we did.”
Kamiakin’s press did force 19 Seattle Prep turnovers, but it wasn’t enough to disrupt the Panthers’ offense in the end. “We have faced good pressure this year,” said Seattle Prep’s Michaela Carew, referencing two games against Cleveland. “At times it bothers us, but we work a lot on pressure in practice.”
The Panthers (22-5) committed six third-quarter turnovers, helping spark the Kamiakin offense and seemingly putting the Braves into the position to advance to the semifinals.
But the Panthers diced up their defense in the fourth quarter, and stopped Kamiakin’s offense.
“We were rolling and getting to the basket and hitting some shots,” Kamiakin coach Lane Schumacher said. “We were really feeling it and all of a sudden that momentum changed.”
The Braves took a 33-28 lead late in the third quarter on back-to-back 3-pointers by Courtney Nelson. Holly Ellison then made Kamiakin’s final field goal, a jumper with 1 minute, 35 seconds left in the third quarter.
“(Sira) opened it up and our dribble penetration was really working,” Schumacher said of the third quarter, where Kamiakin outscored Seattle Prep 16-10. “Their defense was stretched out quite a bit, but they found a way to close that down.”
Seattle Prep closed the game on a 16-4 run, consistently holding Kamiakin to one shot and pressuring the Braves into poor shots and turnovers.
“We realized that our ball pressure needed to be a lot better and our help-side defense,” Carew said. “We’ve been here four years in a row and we want to win it all and this is our shot. It is now or never. We weren’t going to lose this game.”
Seattle Prep will face Wilson in the semifinals Friday night, while the Braves are left searching for answers after their latest state tournament defeat.
“There are a lot of disappointed girls in the locker room,” Schmacher said. “If you want to play Saturday, then you will have to bounce back and play a very good game Friday.”
Last season, Kamiakin entered the state tournament undefeated and No. 1 in the state but lost both games it played in Tacoma.
The Braves were hoping to erase those memories, but to do so it will take an inspired effort after another tough loss.
“We have to play better. We have to bounce back,” Toure said. “Honestly, last year, I remember how many regrets I had when we lost those two and I don’t want to have those regrets.
“I know we will bounce back, because we are a great team.”
Nelson’s 15 points and seven rebounds led Kamiakin, which shot just 29.4 percent from the field for the game making just 15-of-51 shots.
Toure added seven points before fouling out late and Ellison continued her recent strong play, scoring nine points. Lindsey Schauble added six points and four rebounds.
Carew finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and six blocked shots to lead the Panthers, while Mary Ann Santucci added 14 points, five rebounds and four assists.
KAMIAKIN—Courtney Nelson 5 3-4 15, Holly Ellison 3 3-4 9, Melanie Oord 0 0-0 0, Sira Toure 3 1-2 7, Kassi Hanson 0 0-0 0, Lindsey Schauble 3 0-0 6, Kelsea Crandall 0 0-0 0, Amanda Miller 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 7-10 39.
SEATTLE PREP—Holly Tonry 1 0-0 2, Nicole Hall 2 0-0 5, Mary Ann Santucci 5 4-4 14, Quinn Glosniak 1 2-2 4, Andraya Flor 2 1-2 5, Michaela Carew 6 4-8 16. Totals 17 11-16 46.
Kamiakin 9 10 16 4 — 39
Seattle Prep 9 15 10 12 — 46
3-point goals—Kamiakin 2 (Nelson 2), Seattle Prep 1 (Hall). Rebounds—Kamiakin 30 (Nelson 7), Seattle Prep 33 (Carew 7). Assists—Kamiakin 9 (Nelson 3), Seattle Prep 8 (Santucci 4). Blocks—Kamiakin 2, Seattle Prep 8 (Carew 6). Steals—Kamiakin 9 (Schauble 4), Seattle Prep 5. Turnovers—Kamiakin 16, Seattle Prep 19. Total fouls—Kamiakin 14, Seattle Prep 11. Fouled out—Kamiakin, Toure.
Craig Craker: 582-1509; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @Craig_Craker