A season that started with such high expectations ended with bitter defeat Saturday for the Kamiakin girls basketball team.
The Braves, ranked No. 1 in a Seattle Times preseason poll, lost 61-57 to University High in a Class 3A regional at Richland High.
A nine-point fourth-quarter deficit proved too much to overcome against the Titans, as the Braves failed to advance to the state tournament for the first time since 2010.
“It is frustrating,” junior Holly Ellison said, “but I know that we really picked it up and gave it all toward the end. Things just didn’t fall our way today, and that is how it goes.”
After trailing by double digits for most of the second half, the Braves rallied in the fourth quarter, eventually pulling within three points. But Ellison lost the ball out of bounds with 6 seconds remaining and the Titans iced the game at the line.
“That was kind of what happened to us all night,” Kamiakin coach Lane Schumacher said. “We couldn’t quite get over the hump. They handled our full-court pressure and didn’t have as many problems as they had in the past. If you can handle our pressure, that makes it a lot easier to beat us.”
Trailing 56-47 with 2:29 left, the Braves seemed out of it, but Ellison helped them rally.
Lindsey Schauble made a free throw, then Ellison hit back-to-back 3-pointers to pull Kamiakin within 60-56. The defense then forced a turnover, but Sira Toure was called for an offensive foul — her fifth foul of the game. The Titans missed the ensuing free throw and Ellison made a free throw on the other end to make 60-57 with 22 seconds left.
University then missed another free throw and Ellison took it the length of the floor looking for a quick two, but lost the ball out of bounds.
“We never really got a good start. We never meshed together,” Ellison said. “We just couldn’t get things going today.”
It was the sixth time the two teams had played the last two seasons, meeting twice in the regular season, twice in the district tournament and twice in the regional tournament. The Braves were 5-0 before the loss Saturday.
“They are very familiar with us,” Schumacher said. “Tonight we couldn’t quite get a bounce to go our way, we couldn’t quite get over the hump. When you play a team six times you have to hope for the best and we were just short tonight.”
University took command of the game in the second quarter, using a 14-3 run to take a 27-18 lead. The Titans kept the Braves at bay until the fourth quarter.
“It sucks, but at the end of the day, I enjoyed this season,” Toure said. “I have no regrets about this thing. These girls are crying now, but they have so much to be proud of. I hope these girls next year will take this as a lesson and move on and go to state.”
After the high early-season ranking, the Braves lost four in a row as Toure and Amanda Miller missed time with injuries. At one point, the Braves only suited six players for a game.
They regrouped, though, and finished third in the Mid-Columbia Conference and second in the District 5/8 tournament.
“I’m so proud of them,” Schumacher said. “We have a lot of disappointed girls in the locker room and I’m disappointed. We still wanted to play three more days over in Tacoma.”
Toure finished with 17 points and three assists, while Schauble had 12 points and six rebounds. Tabitha Wellsandt added 13 points and seven rebounds and Ellison finished with nine points.
“It sucks to end this way, but I have so much to be proud of,” said Toure, who will play for Weber State next year. “I have so much to be thankful for. It’s not just about basketball. This is more than basketball, it is friendships and having no regrets when you play and having lots of heart and in this game we showed that for sure.”
UNIVERSITY — Ashley Woods 8 4-6 20, McKenzie Peterson 3 0-1 7, Kylie Collins 3 2-3 8, Kaitlin Pannell 2 0-0 5, Emma Kennedy 2 0-1 4, Brooke Bailey 4 0-0 9, Shelby Rotchford 1 0-0 3, Morgan Hawley 0 0-0 0, Emily Terhaar 1 1-1 3, Kendall Collins 1 0-0 2. Totals 25 7-12 61.
KAMIAKIN—Maysun Wellsandt 2 0-4 4, Lindsey Schauble 4 4-6 12, Sira Toure 6 2-3 17, Holly Ellison 3 1-2 9, Tabitha Wellsandt 3 6-7 13, Amanda Miller 0 2-2 2, Melanie Oord 0 0-0 0, Kelsea Crandall 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 15-24 57.
University 13 18 15 15 — 61
Kamiakin 13 13 12 19 — 57
3-point goals—University 4 (Peterson, Pannell, Bailey, Rotchford), Kamiakin 6 (Toure 3, Ellison 2, T. Wellsandt). Rebounds—University 34 (Woods 7), Kamiakin 30 (Miller 8). Assists—University 8 (Pannell 2), Kamiakin 11 (Toure 3). Turnovers—University 12, Kamiakin 16. Fouls—University 17, Kamiakin 16. Fouled out—Toure.