After thoroughly dominating the Mid-Columbia Conference and Class 3A regional and state tournaments, Kamiakin High School’s Oumou Toure can add All-Area girls basketball Player of the Year to her impressive résumé.
The sophomore guard/forward was the league scoring champ, averaging 23.7 points per game with 12 rebounds to lead the Braves to a 25-2 record to go along with their conference and sub regional championships, and a fourth-place state tournament finish.
A year after becoming the first freshman to make the All-MCC first team, Toure was named the conference’s 2017 Player of the Year (and co-Defensive Player of the Year) and earned a nod on The (Tacoma) News Tribune’s All-State first team, which goes across all classifications.
“Last year I was a little bit afraid, but I think this year I just really let it go and played a lot more like how I knew I could play,” Toure said.
As good as Toure was throughout the regular season, she shined even brighter at the Tacoma Dome, where she was named to the 3A All-Tournament first team. She averaged 25.7 points and 10 rebounds in the Braves’ three tourney games, including a 29-point, 12-board performance in the 64-40 win over Seattle Prep in the fourth/sixth-place bracket semifinal.
And most of Toure’s big scoring stretches came when the rest of the team couldn’t buy a bucket, like when she scored 18 of the Braves’ 20 points during the middle part of their quarterfinals loss to Mercer Island, or 22 of their first 33 points in a slow start against Seattle Prep.
“Whenever we’re down, I just really want to get us back in it,” Toure said. “I think at state that really showed. After those little spurts where we weren’t scoring, and I just knew I needed to score to get us up there and help us get out of our little bit of not scoring.”
Although quiet by nature — she leaves the role of vocal leader to fellow sophomore and All-Area first-teamer Alexa Hazel (14.5 ppg, 5.7 rbds) — Toure went from being a superbly talented freshman last season to a true team leader this year.
Kamiakin’s Lane Schumacher, the All-Area Coach of the Year, said Toure’s biggest improvement this season was “her confidence and leadership ability. Last year as a freshman, even though she led us in scoring, she still wasn’t super confident with her ability to lead the team. Well this year, she was much more vocal, and she’s not a vocal person, but when she needed to be, she had the confidence to do that.”
That leadership was critical for a team that started four sophomores. The one upperclassman in that lineup was senior guard Kiley Larsen (All-Area honorable mention), who played alongside Toure, Hazel, forward Symone Brown (second team) and guard Rylie Clark (honorable mention).
The Braves took fifth in state last season, but Schumacher believes the best is yet to come for the class of 2019, though the stakes may be raised in the years ahead.
“It’s pretty exciting to think about. We’ve had two great years, and we’re gonna get the core of these girls for two more,” he said. “As long as they continue to grow and get better, I’d like to see if we can’t make a run at it and place better than we did the last two years.
“That’s the exciting part of it. The tough part of it is you’re going to have a target on your back every night out. So we better be ready to come out and play, because there’s no surprises anymore. They’re upperclassmen now, and they’re going to be expected to play well.”
And the Braves are already back to building toward a championship. Toure said AAU practices started Sunday, which is just fine with her.
“It’s always fun playing basketball and doing it year-round, especially with my teammates,” she said. “It’s always fun. I love the game so much.”
Other than Toure and Hazel, here’s a look at the rest of the All-Area first team:
KENEDY CARTWRIGHT, JR., G, CHIAWANA: Stepping into the role of go-to player in the absence of Braydey Hodgins (now at Boise State), Cartwright kept an extremely young Riverhawks team — she and senior Mackenzie Cordray were the only upperclassmen — way ahead of schedule. After only losing two conference games — both to Kamiakin — the Riverhawks (19-7) faced an uphill postseason battle when they dropped their opening sub-regional game to GSL No. 4 seed Mead. But Cartwright and the Riverhawks rallied back, winning four straight against Walla Walla, Richland, Lewis and Clark and Gonzaga Prep to qualify for the state regionals, where they lost to Woodinville 49-44. Cartwright averaged about 15.5 points and three steals per contest this season.
KAMRI VON OELHOFFEN, SR., G, RICHLAND: Von Oelhoffen mostly played the point for Richland and helped pace the Bombers’ up-tempo attack that averaged just under 60 points per game in conference play. Richland (11-11) threatened on multiple occasions to pull off upsets against top-tier MCC foes, giving Kamiakin one of its tightest conference games (72-64 on Jan. 14), and falling to Chiawana 59-55 and 55-49 in the regular season, and 57-54 in overtime in a loser-out sub-regional game. Von Oelhoffen averaged 12.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.
MAYSUN WELLSANDT, SR., G/F, RICHLAND: The 6-foot combo player was huge on both ends of the floor for the Bombers, averaging 11.6 points and 6.6 rebounds, to go along with a block and a steal per contest. Led by von Oelhoffen and Wellsandt, Richland was the most veteran team in the MCC this season, and is poised to keep that reputation. Current junior guards Taryn Webb, Megan Haugen and Hailey Stevens will likely be the 2017-18 team’s leaders.
TAYLOR TURNER, SR., F, COLUMBIA-BURBANK: The three-time All-SCAC East first team player was brilliant again in her final high school season, and a lot of the contributions came when the Coyotes (23-2) needed them most. She averaged 16.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.5 steals per night, and had maybe her biggest game in the 65-58 state regional overtime victory against Seattle Christian, where she had 38 points and 21 rebounds, and played lock-down defense on Warriors’ star Serianna Anderson.
ALL-AREA GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM
Player of the Year: Oumou Toure, so., G, Kamiakin. Coach of the Year: Lane Schumacher, Kamiakin.
First Team: Toure, so., G, Kamiakin; Alexa Hazel, so., G, Kamiakin; Kenedy Cartwright, jr., G, Chiawana; Kamri von Oelhoffen, sr., G, Richland; Maysun Wellsandt, sr., G/F, Richland; Taylor Turner, sr., F, Burbank.
Second Team: Marissa Cortes, so., G, Prosser; Emilee Maldonado, sr., G, Sunnyside; Symone Brown, so, F, Kamiakin; Ashlee Maldonado, so., G/F, Sunnyside; Macey Morales, so., G, Chiawana; Sami Sanders, jr., F, Southridge.
Honorable mention: Bella Gutierrez, jr., P, Pasco; Ellie Smith, sr., C, Southridge; Faith Hoe, jr., G, Walla Walla; Rylie Clark, so., G, Kamiakin; Britnee Guerrero, jr., G, Mabton; Kiley Larsen, sr., G, Kamiakin; Clare Eubanks, so., P, Chiawana; Lexi Skyles, jr., G/F, Sunnyside; Jessica Mendoza, sr., G/F, Sunnyside; Aaliyah Anderson, jr., River View; Ali Martineau, jr., Burbank; Brooke Wheeler, jr., Prosser; Morgan Munson, jr., River View; Malea Dye, sr., F, Hanford; Meghan Yenney, jr., G, Walla Walla; Mihaela Edwards, jr., Kiona-Benton; Heather Hawkins, jr., Connell; Alicia Oatis, jr., C, Kennewick; Grace Meza, jr., Grandview; Michelle Ruiz, so., Grandview.