Kamiakin coach Lane Schumacher was a little unsure of how this season would go with such a young roster.
The Braves start three freshmen and two juniors. They have no seniors on their team.
No worries. Kamiakin is off to a 4-1 start in the Mid-Columbia Conference and is 7-4 overall heading into Tuesday’s home game against Walla Walla (3-1, 5-5).
“When you see that we don’t have any seniors, that was concerning,” Schumacher said. “We played summer ball and I saw potential, but how that translates into league ball is another thing.”
So far, Schumacher hasn’t had much to worry about.
Freshman Oumou Toure is leading the team in scoring with 15.9 points per game — which ranks second in the Mid-Columbia Conference — while fellow freshman Alexa Hazel is chipping in 14.4 points a game and ranks third.
“It has helped distribute our scoring,” Schumacher said. “They can’t focus on Oumou because Alexa will hurt you. They play together as a team, and that helps us as a team. They want to get that win.”
That was evident Saturday when Richland held Toure to eight points and Hazel exploded for a career high 26.
Toure, a 5-foot-9 guard, is following in her older sisters’ sneakers.
Sister Khadidja Toure is a junior at East Carolina, transferring after two years at Oregon State, while Sira Toure is a sophomore at Weber State. Both were all-conference players for the Braves.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect with Toure,” Schumacher said. “In the summer, I saw she had natural ability and worked hard. For a freshman to play this well is very pleasing.”
A little on the quite side, Tour lets her game speak for her — most of the time.
“This is a good opportunity for me,” Toure said. “I watched my sisters play for so long. They told me to go out and have fun. I’m my own player, but I also want to live up to what they did at Kamiakin.”
Toure and Hazel played together at Desert Hills Middle School and in the local AAU program, which has paid dividends for the Braves.
“A lot of us have been playing together in AAU for a lot of years and we work well together,” Toure said. “I was expecting to help my team, but not do that (second in league scoring). It doesn’t really matter, I just go out and play. Most of the time when you play, it doesn’t matter how old you are, just the skill you bring to the court.”
The confidence is there, but it took a game or two for it to start oozing.
“My first game I was scared,” Toure said, “but it has been a lot of fun.”
While Toure had an insight to Kamiakin basketball, Hazel knew she’d have to put on a show to earn varsity playing time.
“I came in ready to work hard,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect. The season started and I went onto tryouts with an open mind. I’m super pleased with how the season has gone. I came in expecting the worst and hoping for the best. It’s surreal. You have to trust it.”
The 5-5 Hazel didn’t know she was among the top scorers in the league. She credits her teammates for helping her adjust to the high school level.
“I have some really amazing teammates,” she said. “They are really great basketball players.”
No one is arguing that fact.