Don’t ask Oumou Toure about state basketball rankings.
She doesn’t want to hear about — even after the Seattle Times ranked her team, the Kamiakin Braves, No. 1 in the Class 3A poll earlier this week.
“The rankings at the end of the day don’t mean a thing,” said Toure, after she and her Kamiakin teammates rolled over hits Kennewick 79-49 on Friday night in a Mid-Columbia Conference girls basketball contest.
“We were ranked No. 2 last year going into state, and we lost to Garfield. So we’ve chosen not to look at the rankings,” she said.
Kamiakin was facing a Kennewick team that was also ranked by the Times — No. 8 in 3A — in a game with the two teams sporting a combined 17-1 record.
It wasn’t close at all. The Braves (6-0 MCC, 10-0 overall) slapped on a harassing defensive press from the start that created havoc and had the Lions searching for answers — any answers.
“We’ve never faced that type of speed, especially that defensive speed,” said Lions coach Daron Santo, who said he told his team after the game they’d use it as a learning experience. “We’ve got to do better. But I’ve got to do a better job of game-planning. This one is on me.”
Kamiakin coach Lane Schumacher wanted his team to get out to a fast start, something the Braves had been struggling with early in the season.
“And we haven’t played in two weeks,” Schumacher said. “We were extremely active tonight and we wanted to speed up the game. We came out with a hot start.”
Couldn’t get much hotter. Forcing turnovers and turning them into points, Kamiakin jumped out to a 23-0 lead and never looked back.
Toure had 9 points in the run. But teammates Alexa Hazel and Symone Brown had 6 each.
As the game continued on, sophomore Regan Clark was lights out shooting.
“We have four players averaging in double figures,” said Schumacher. “You can’t just focus on Oumou. She doesn’t have to be the only one out there scoring.”
While Toure finished with a game-high 23 points, Clark had 21, while Hazel and Brown added 13 each.
The Lions tried valiantly to fight back, but could never come close.
MeiLani McBee led Kennewick (5-1 MCC, 8-2) with 18 points, while Aislin Fiander added 11.
Top-ranking or not, Schumacher said he doesn’t worry about his players getting flummoxed with outside distractions.
“The (WIAA) RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) ranking is more important now,” Schumacher said. “These girls, they’re pretty grounded and level-headed.”
But they impressed Santo anyway.
“You had two teams (ranked in the top 10 in state) coming in,” Santo said. “They wanted to make a statement at our house. They did.”
CHIAWANA 47, WALLA WALLA 35: Host Chiawana forced 22 turnovers, turning them into 20 points, en route to beating Wa-Hi. Clare Eubanks paced the Riverhawks with 18 points — including going 10 for 12 at the free throw line — and eight rebounds. Monica Miller and Mia Huxell each scored 11 points for the Blue Devils.
PASCO 64, HANFORD 42: Pasco’s defense forced 21 turnovers resulting in 23 points, and the host Bulldogs ran away from the Falcons. Aniyah Heavens paced Pasco with 21 points, nine rebounds and five steals. Taija Mackey added 11 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots, while Mya Groce had 12 points and nine rebounds. Liana Moran led Hanford with 15 points, while teammate Ashtyn Nelson added 11 points and nine rebounds.
RICHLAND 65, HERMISTON 61: Visiting Richland found itself trailing 33-19 at intermission, but rallied hard in the second half to win. Jayda Clark scored 15 points to lead the Bombers, while Emily Garza added 14. Jazlyn Romero paced Hermiston with 21 points.
KAMIAKIN 80, KENNEWICK 49: Kamiakin coach Brian Meneely lamented a few weeks ago about the rash of influenza, viruses and other ailments that were hitting his team — and even himself. Seems that’s all water under the bridge now. Meneely’s Braves used a 23-4 run early in the second quarter to put away Kennewick.
“We’re healthy!” Meneely exclaimed after the game. That included sophomore point guard Steven Westermeyer, who hammered the Lions with 25 points, including six 3-point field goals.
“Westermeyer got over his concussion that he suffered a few weeks ago (missing a couple of games),” Meneely said. “And he shot well. But I thought he defended well and took care of the ball.”
In that key run, six different players — including three guys off the bench in Messiah Jones, Woodley Downard and Jeremiah Kennell — scored in the run.
“Our bench gave us some big minutes tonight,” said Meneely, who wasn’t sure how his team would react after having 13 days between games.
“We had a long break. We practiced a lot. Sometimes you come out rusty. Sometimes it pays off. Tonight it paid off.”
Downard came off the bench to score 15 points, while Jim Mohlman added 10 for the Braves (3-3 MCC, 6-4 overall). Ayoni Benavidez led the Lions (3-3, 7-4) with 16 points, while Blaine Chavez added 11.
CHIAWANA 63, WALLA WALLA 45: Host Chiawana dominated the boards, outrebounding Wa-Hi 47-33, and beat the visiting Blue Devils in MCC play. Connor Mendez came of the bench to lead the Riverhawks with 12 points. Chiawana’s Kobe Young had just 5 points, but he was a force inside with 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. Taylor Hamada paced Wa-Hi with 17 points and nine rebounds.
HANFORD 51, PASCO 37: Connor Woodward scored 18 points, and Dan Izquierdo added 6 points and 11 rebounds, as visiting Hanford beat Pasco. The Falcons led 29-27 after three quarters, but they outscored the Bulldogs 22-10 in the fourth quarter for the win. Moises Cuevas led Pasco with 12 points, while Nick Gutierrez added 10 points and six rebounds.
RICHLAND 86, HERMISTON 59: Cole Northrop scored 25 points and Dhaunye Guice added 20 as visiting Richland rolled past Hermiston. The Bombers took control with a 20-4 second quarter. Cesar Ortiz and Jordan Ramirez each had 13 points to lead the Bulldogs.