KENNEWICK -- The Kamiakin Braves were the league favorite from the get-go, and they've lived up to those high expectations with a 9-1 record that includes an undefeated CBBN 3A slate at 5-0.
But Kamiakin has been challenged with some unexpected adversity -- maybe a blessing in disguise for a team many expected to run away with the 3A regular season title.
Senior guard Riley Hayfield has missed the Braves' last three games with an undisclosed injury, and senior guard Case Rada twisted an ankle against Kennewick that forced him to miss Tuesday's win over Pasco.
In their absence, some good things have happened.
Junior post Zach En'Wezoh has emerged as one of the top inside threats in the CBBN. His athletic ability and his long arms give him an edge on defense, and he has averaged 10 points -- including a season-high 14 points in a 53-45 win over Kennewick -- in the Braves' last four games.
"Zach gives us a really nice dimension down in the paint," said Kamiakin coach Brian Meneely. "Defensively, I'd like to see us further along as a team, but our kids have a great mentality to work at it every day and continue to improve.
"Right now, we're just trying to get healthy so we can put 2 or 3 weeks in a row and hit our stride."