There was no bitter ending this year.
A season removed from a two-and-out finish at the state tournament, Kamiakin bounced back from a quarterfinal loss Thursday to take home fourth place Saturday.
The Braves defeated University High 47-36 to give them their best finish during their three consecutive state tournament appearances.
“We were just motivated to give a happy ending to our seniors and a happy ending to our season,” Kamiakin junior Sira Toure said. “It’s a great feeling. We are a great team and we deserved to get fourth.”
The Braves dominated the game from the start, using their signature pressure defense to force the Titans into 20 turnovers, creating 17 points. It was the third time this season Kamiakin has beaten the Spokane Valley school.
“I was concerned about that,” Kamiakin coach Lane Schumacher said of playing UHigh again. “We were both familiar with each other, but our pressure once again made a difference. Any time you hold a team under 40, that is a pretty good defensive effort.”
Toure had another strong game shooting the ball, finishing with a game-high 21 points. Holly Ellison added 14 points and Courtney Nelson wrapped up her stellar career with 10 points and six rebounds.
“We did not want to relive last year,” Nelson said. “That was a huge motivation.”
They certainly didn’t do that, bouncing back from an opening-round 46-39 loss to Seattle Prep with victories over Mercer Island on Friday and the win against University on Saturday.
“It says that we are a great group that does not give up. We never give up,” Toure said. “We took the challenge. Last year, we didn’t take the challenge well. This year we were like ‘OK, we’ve done this before. We don’t want to have what happened last year happen this year.’ And we took it.”
Kamiakin used a 10-2 run to open the second quarter to create space. Nelson had a steal and jumper, Toure hit a free throw and Ellison made a 3-pointer and two free throws to put Kamiakin on top 23-12 with 39 seconds left in the half.
“We got those three girls in double figures,” Schumacher said. “Holly was her usual steady self, Courtney got 10 and Sira was really on fire. When those three are rolling, we are pretty tough to stop.”
Toure scored more than 20 points for a second consecutive state tournament game. She scored the Braves’ final five points of the third quarter and the first seven points of the fourth quarter.
“It was a lot of fun,” she said. “We played probably our best basketball all year. We wanted to do it for our seniors and wanted to do better than (the last) three years.”
The Braves made state in 2011 as well, finishing sixth after advancing to the semifinals. Nelson starred on that team as well, and was happy to finish her career on a winning note.
“I feel like I’m complete with my whole entire basketball career,” she said. “I’m really happy we were able to do that for each other and the team. I’m just really excited about how I ended things.”
The Braves shot just 27.8 percent from the field, as both teams struggled with the 8 a.m. tipoff. Kamiakin made six 3-pointers, though, to go along with its strong defense to key the victory.
“You never know how kids will respond after a heartbreaking loss,” Schumacher said. “To come back with a 9 a.m. game (Friday) and an 8 a.m. game (Saturday) and really continue to work so hard I’m sad to see it end. I don’t know what I’m going to do Monday when practice rolls around. It is a fun group.”
Amanda Miller pulled down eight rebounds and Lindsey Schauble, who had the other two points as only four Kamiakin players scored, had seven rebounds.
Kayleigh Valley, who is headed to Montana in the fall, had eight points and 17 rebounds to lead the Titans.
KAMIAKIN—Courtney Nelson 4 0-2 10, Holly Ellison 3 6-9 14, Melanie Oord 0 0-0 0, Sira Toure 7 5-11 21, 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 0 0-0 0, Amanda Miller 0 0-2 0, Parker Lee 0 0-0 0, Heather Donais 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 11-24 47.
UNIVERSITY—Ashley Woods 0 1-2 1, Emma Kennedy 0 2-3 2, Kayleigh Valley 4 0-2 8, Emily Terhaar 0 0-0 0, Kaitlin Pannell 4 0-0 9, Morgan Hawley 1 0-0 3, Shelby Rotchford 0 0-0 0, Paige Thornton 0 2-2 2, Brooke Bailey 2 6-6 11, McKenzie Peterson 0 0-0 0, Kylie Collins 0 0-0 0, Jessica Shill 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 11-15 36.
Kamiakin 13 10 14 10 — 47
University 10 5 7 14 — 36
3-point goals—Kamiakin 6 (Nelson 2, Ellison 2, Toure 2), University 3 (Pannell, Hawley, Bailey). Rebounds—Kamiakin 42 (Miller 8), University 41 (Valley 17). Assists—Kamiakin 8 (Toure 3), University 8 (two with 2). Steals—Kamiakin 8 (Nelson, Ellison 3), University 7 (Valley 4). Turnovers—Kamiakin 13, University 20. Total fouls—Kamiakin 14, University 18.