High School Sports

Kamiakin boys top Hanford 47-44

KENNEWICK -- The Kamiakin boys basketball players headed into the final weekend secure in the knowledge that the CBBN 3A regular-season title was all theirs.

But the Braves were reminded in an uncomfortably narrow 47-44 home win over Hanford that the other teams in the division still have plenty to fight for.

With their top scorers Case Rada and Tyler Holle struggling from the field -- they combined for just nine points -- Justin Pedley led all scorers with 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds on a night the Falcons nearly ruined Kamiakin's unbeaten league season.

"Our focus all week in practice has been (to) finish. We had a mark in mind after the Chiawana loss to finish 19-1," Pedley said after the third-ranked Braves' 13th consecutive victory. "We like to spread the ball around. If our guards are missing shots, we know there are other people on the floor who can pick things up."

Kamiakin (18-1, 13-0) trailed the entire first half after Hanford got off to a hot shooting start.

Despite losing their top perimeter threat, Bear Braich, to a torn ligament in his right thumb, the Falcons (8-11, 7-6) hit seven of their first 10 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers from Jalen DeVine to take an 18-11 first-quarter lead.

DeVine led Hanford with 10 points, while Aaron Neary added nine points and five rebounds.

They cooled off in the second and third quarters but maintained their intensity on defense, making sure the Braves didn't find a rhythm on the offensive end.

"We have a very solid defensive team. Our guards did an outstanding job," said Hanford coach Paul Mayer. "I think (Falcons guard Cam) Wagar had better get some consideration for defensive player of the year. He always guards the other team's best player."

Wagar, a 5-foot-11 senior, locked in on Rada, fighting through screens and rarely allowing the Braves' all-CBBN guard a clean look at the hoop. Wagar didn't need a lot of extra motivation against Rada, the league's sixth-leading scorer at 14.2 points a game.

But Wagar got a little push before the game when Rada was honored before the game as a nominee for the McDonald's All-American team, one of two CBBN players to be nominated (Southridge post Derek Porter is the other).

"When we walked out of the locker room, they were doing the All-American announcement, and coach (Mike) Kirk looked at me and said, 'Don't let him score.'

"I said, 'I'm not going to.' "

Rada finished 0-for-8 from the field and just 1-for-3 from the free throw line. His only point came in the game's final second, a free throw that pushed the Braves' lead up to 47-44.

The Falcons had several opportunites to either tie the game or go ahead after Marcus Nash hit a runner off glass to cut the lead to 46-44 with 34 seconds left. But Kamiakin didn't give Wagar many good looks on several inbounds plays.

One inbounds pass with 6 seconds left was intercepted by Pedley at midcourt, setting up Rada's free throw. But the Falcons still got two more looks in the final second.

"When you're in that situation, a lot of things can happen. You would certainly like to be up by 10," said Kamiakin coach Brian Meneely. "This was a good experience for us, but I don't like to get in close games. But these are just as important as the first 18."

HANFORD (44)

Wagar 7, Jalen DeVine 10, Rueter 5, Neary 9, Nash 5, Douglas 2, Funk 6. Totals 18-36 1-2 44.

KAMIAKIN (47)

Rada 1, Holle 8, Fletcher 3, Anderson 11, Justin Pedley 20, Hayfield, En'Wezoh 4, Hunt. Totals 16-52 13-19 47.

Hanford 18 5 6 15 -- 44

Kamiakin 11 11 8 17 -- 47

Highlights -- Rebounds: H 23 (Rueter 5, Neary 5), K 27 (Pedley 9); 3-pointers: H 7-15 (DeVine 2, Funk 2), K 2-6 (Holle, Fletcher); Holle 3 steals; Pedley 3 assists; Douglas 2 blocks.

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