KENNEWICK -- There wasn't much Kamiakin's Case Rada could do watching Southridge guard Matt Mendenhall hit four of his first five shots for nine first-quarter points to give the Suns a six-point lead.
When you're hot, you're hot.
"We knew they weren't going to come in here and roll over," Rada said. "(Mendenhall) played tough."
Mendenhall and Southridge were coming off a demoralizing home loss to Sunnyside on Friday. The Suns bounced back in admirable fashion against the Braves, but in the end it was Rada standing tall with 23 points, four assists, three steals and a strong defensive performance on Mendenhall to lift Kamiakin to a 50-37 home win.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Tri-City Herald
"Case wasn't going to let us lose tonight," said Braves coach Brian Meneely after his team's ninth consecutive victory. "You might see him in another game scoring eight or nine points but being able to set other players up."
Mendenhall picked up two early fouls but came back after Derek Porter was called for his third just 1:31 into the second quarter. When Porter left the game, Southridge seemed to lose some momentum and Kamiakin came back to take a 24-20 halftime lead.
Porter didn't come back in until the 3:09 mark of the third period, but Mendenhall kept working to find shots and keep his team in the game.
"That's what shooters do," said Southridge coach Jason DeVere. "You can't think about what happened last. Matt played hard tonight.
"I'm so proud of our kids for coming back after last night's debacle."
While the Suns tried mightily to regain their rhythm, Rada was finding his. After Brad Scott found Porter for an open layin that cut Kamiakin's lead to 38-35 with 6:01 left in the game, Rada stole the ball at halfcourt and dribbled in for the bucket with 5:15 remaining.
On the Braves' next possession, Rada hit a jumper from the left wing to push the lead back up to 42-35.
Rada outscored Mendenhall 7-0 in the fourth quarter, and Kamiakin's relentless defensive pressure made it tough for Southridge to find open looks. The Suns missed nine of their last 10 shots as the Braves finished the game on a 12-2 run.
"We were able to adapt on the run, and that's where experience is so critical," Meneely said. "To only give up 20 points in the first half is pretty good, especially since we weren't really flowing on offense."
Mendenhall finished the game with 15 points to lead the team, but DeVere credited several players, including starters Dallas Jones and Dallin Palmer, with keeping Southridge in the game.
"(Jones) and Dallin work so hard. Both those guys gave us 32 minutes, and each could have gone another quarter and a half," DeVere said. "I thought Andrew keef played a heck of a game when Derek was out."
Kamiakin did get a big scare with 4 minutes left in the third period. Tyler Holle, the team's leading scorer at 14.7 points a game, took a pass from Rada and sank a running one-hander in the lane to give the Braves a 30-29 lead. But he twisted his right ankle on the landing and crumpled to the ground in pain.
"My first thought, in big capital letters, was NOOO!" Meneely said.
Holle, who fought through several injuries during football season, was helped off the court and into the training room, only to return less than two minutes later.
The crowd erupted into cheers when he checked back into the game with 1:48 left in the third. But after noticing an obvious limp, Meneely let him rest for the remainder of the night.
"It was frustrating for him, but we didn't want to sacrifice him for a few minutes of playing time," Meneely said.
SOUTHRIDGE -- Palmer 5, Jones 3, Matt Mendenhall 15, Scott 4, Porter 8, Molt, Keefe 2. Totals 17-46 1-2 37.
KAMIAKIN -- Case Rada 23, Holle 3, Fletcher 5, Anderson 6, Pedley 6, Hayfield 3, En'Wezoh 4, Hunt. Totals 21-39 3-6 50.
Southridge 15 5 11 6 -- 37
Kamiakin 9 15 12 14 -- 50
Highlights -- Rebounds: S 18 (Porter 5), K 24 (Anderson 12); 3-pointers: S 2-15 (Palmer, Mendenhall), K 5-11 (Rada 3); Turnovers: S 4, K 9; Assists: S 4 (Jones 2, Scott 2), K 16 (Fletcher 5); Rada 3 steals.