Oumou Toure scored a game high 21 points and had 10 rebounds, and the Kamiakin High School girls basketball team controlled the game early, but eventually was worn down by a more veteran Mercer Island squad, falling 52-42 on Thursday in the girls 3A quarterfinal of the Hardwood Classic at the Tacoma Dome.
The loss snapped Kamiakin’s 15-game winning streak. The Braves face No. 12 Seattle Prep at 10:30 a.m. Friday in the fourth/sixth-place bracket
“I told them in the locker room that you can pout, you can be disappointed, but when we go to sleep tonight, we’re gonna wake up tomorrow morning and be ready to go,” Kamiakin coach Lane Schumacher said. “The girls are disappointed. I’m disappointed. We played hard, but the game didn’t go our way.
“So yeah, we’ll let them pout, but we’ll get up and be ready to go.”
Mercer Island (23-6) was stifled in the early going by poor outside shooting — 3 of 17 in the first half — but eventually hit shots late when it was necessary. The Islanders were 2 of 5 from deep in the second half and shot 56.5 percent from the field.
Mercer Island’s 6-foot-2 senior post Anna Luce was the ‘X’ factor. Luce scored a team-high 18 points and had a game-high 14 rebounds, and the Braves had a tough time getting around her in the post.
“She was tough for us, she’s been tough all year,” Kamiakin coach Lane Schumacher said. “We knew that coming in. If you front her, she has good hands and can lay it in. Plus she can hit that little free-throw line jumper and she’ll knock her free throws down.”
Kamiakin also lost the turnover battle — maybe for the first time this season — eventually succumbing to Mercer’s quick guards who pressed for most of the game.
The Braves turned it over 11 times in the second half to Mercer Island’s seven.
“The difference in the game was ... we had more turnovers than them, and that really hurt us,” Schumacher said. “We turned it over 18 times and they turned it over 15, and usually we’re on the other side of those numbers.”
Kamiakin couldn’t have gotten off to a hotter start. Kiley Larsen and Toure splashed 3-pointers to lead the Braves out to an 8-0 advantage after the first 1:15.
Mercer Island, which didn’t get the ball across midcourt during the opening flurry, called a timeout and responded with a 6-0 run to get back in the game, and the score didn’t move much from there. Kamiakin led 15-13 at the end of the first quarter and 25-23 at halftime
From the middle of the second quarter to the middle of the third, Toure went on a stretch where she scored 18 of Kamiakin’s 20 points. But that streak ended with 5:15 to go in the third, and the sophomore guard/forward didn’t score again the rest of the game.
“I think they did a much better job of focusing on (Toure) and they did a better job of helping in the middle,” Schumacher said. “She’s usually able to get into the middle and get those drives, and they really took that away.”
Mercer Island took its first lead of the game on a layup by Luce with 5 minutes to play in the third quarter and it never trailed again. Kamiakin made back to back buckets to tie it at 37-all at the end of the third, but Mercer started the fourth on a 10-2 run to put the game into cruise control.
Alexa Hazel only scored four points for Kamiakin, but recorded four steals and three assists.
Kailee Yan heated up for the Islanders late and finished with 15 points. Jessie Stenberg scored 11 points with five steals and Claire Mansfield had seven assists.
Mercer Island will play No. 6 Snohomish at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.
Although the highest they can finish at this year’s state tournament is fourth, the future is still bright for the Braves.
Their four leading scorers — during this game and the season — are all sophomores (Toure, Hazel, Symone Brown and Rylie Clark). Toure and Hazel were also the key contributors on the team that took fifth in state last season.
“We’re still starting four sophomores, and the more minutes you can get at the Tacoma Dome is always beneficial,” Schumacher said.
Mercer Island started three seniors and two juniors Thursday.
MERCER ISLAND: Jessie Stenberg 11, Mansfield 2, Kailee Yan 15, Blakeslee, Anna Luce 18, Ja.Stenberg 6. Totals: 22-56 3-10 52.
KAMIAKIN: Brown 8, Scherbarth 2, Larsen 3, Holle, Clark 5, Hazel 4, C.Williams, Oumou Toure 21. Totals: 18-54 4-5 43.
Highlights — MI, Je.Stenberg 5 stls, 3 asts; Clare Mansfield 7 asts; Luce 14 rebs, 2 blks, 3 stls. K, Toure 10 rebs, 3 blks; Alexa Hazel 4 stls, 3 asts.