KENNEWICK -- Khadidja Toure led a strong defensive effort Saturday as Kamiakin nearly upset Moses Lake.
The Chiefs (4-1) escaped with a 57-53 victory against a short-handed Braves team.
Toure held University of Oregon bound Jordan Loera to four field goals, but the Braves couldn't overcome a 12-point deficit.
"I just tried to get a stop on her," Toure said of guarding Loera. "I had to make sure I wasn't reaching because she's smart. And I had to move my feet."
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Toure did that for the most part throughout the night, as did her teammates in limiting a Chiefs team expected to contend for the CBBN 4A title.
"We played defense as a team and everyone stepped up and did their job," Kamiakin head coach Tammy Hutchison said. "The plan was to double team (post Kayla Bernsen) and try to contain Jordan. We got into foul trouble early, but I'm proud of the girls for working hard."
Trailing 47-35 with 1 minute, 17 seconds left in the third quarter, Kamiakin went on an 8-0 run. Sira Toure made four free throws, Courtney Nelson had a layup, Amanda Miller scored on the fast break and Toure capped the flurry with a jumper to pull the Braves within 47-45 with 7:21 left in the game.
The teams went back and forth the rest of the way, though the Chiefs nearly pulled away before Courtney Nelson drew a charge on Bernsen and fouling out the 6-foot-4 post in the process.
Nelson then hit a 3-pointer, Toure hit a layup and two free throws and the Braves were back within two at 55-53 with a minute left.
From there, Kamiakin (0-2) couldn't quite get over the hump.
"There was just a loss of communication," Khadidja Toure said. "We had a lot of freshman out there, but they stepped up tonight."
While Loera struggled from the field, she did finish with 17 points and showed why she is an all-state player down the stretch.
After Bernsen fouled out, Loera hit a jumper and made two free throws down the stretch, as well as grabbing a couple of crucial rebounds with her team clinging to the two-point lead.
"That's what we expect of her," Moses Lake coach Matt Strophy said. "Against Hermiston the other night, she had 16 in the fourth quarter. That's what all-state, Division I kids do. They want the ball and they step up at crucial times."
While Loera helped her team escape with the victory, the Braves have to be encouraged.
Kamiakin was playing without 6-3 post Kassy Larson and senior Krista Beach. The Braves started two freshman, a sophomore and two juniors Saturday, but their lack of size showed as Moses Lake outrebounded Kamiakin 45-30.
"What we showed (Saturday) was amazing," Khadidja Toure said. "I'm excited for what's to come. It is only up from here."
Toure finished with 14 points, while her freshman sister Sira chipped in with 13 points. Nelson had 17 points and seven rebounds.
Bernsen finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Chiefs, while Loera added nine rebounds. Moses Lake did lose Kyleigh Gamez to back spasms at halftime. Gamez came in averaging 14 points per game off the bench.
Moses Lake 57, Kamiakin 53
MOSES LAKE -- Kayla Bernsen 18, Loera 17, Nielsen 2, Munoz 7, Gamez 3, Brown, Ballard, Gentry 3, Kunjara 4, Sanders 3. Totals 19 16-24 57.
Kamiakin -- K. Toure 14, S. Toure 13, K. Nelson, Courtney Nelson 17, McKinney 2, Oord 2, Kurz 2, Miller 3, Robertson. Totals 21 13-23 53.
Moses Lake 16 19 12 10 -- 57
Kamiakin 16 11 14 12 -- 53
Highlights -- Bernsen 14 rebounds. Miller 7 rebounds.