Knights end season with tough state regional loss | Girls basketballFourth quarter woes sink Kamiak’s playoff hopes
Kamiak went cold from the field at the worst possible time.
The Knights had battled back from a 10-0 deficit and eventually taken a 40-39 lead early in the fourth quarter against Auburn-Riverside in a 4A state regional girls basketball playoff game.
Kamiak, however, then made only one free throw and no more field goals in the final 5 minutes, 20 seconds, and went on to fall 51-41 to the Ravens in the loser-out contest Friday, Feb. 24, at Rogers High School in Puyallup.
Friday’s game marked the second straight state regional playoff appearance for the Knights, who finished the season 17-9 overall. Prior to last season, Kamiak’s last played at state in 2009.
Kamiak coach Brian Norman appreciated what the seven seniors accomplished during their time in the program.
“That’s a tough way to go out,” Norman said. “We’ve kind of started a winning tradition at Kamiak. The last four years with these seven girls, they’ve worked hard. They’ve put a lot of time in, a lot of blood, sweat and tears.”
Senior Kate Huguenin, whose basket at 5:20 in the fourth quarter gave the Knights their final lead, scored a team-high 14 points. Teammate Sarah Payne had 11 points, all in the first half. Jamie Beirne contributed 7 points and Hunter Beirne added 6 points, including a buzzer-beating 3-point shot launched just past mid-court that tied the score at 38 at the end of the third quarter.
“We were right there,” Norman said. We played well in that second and third quarter.”
After trailing 10-0 to start the game, the Knights went on a 9-5 run to cut the deficit to 15-9 at the end of the first quarter. The Ravens (21-6) extended their lead to 22-12 early in the second period before Kamiak closed the gap. The Knights outscored Auburn-Riverside 11-9 in the second quarter to head into halftime down 24-20.
Huguenin said the seniors were determined to fight back.
“All of us have been together since about sixth grade,” she said. “So just knowing that we’re not going to end like this together. We’re not going to go down without a fight.”
Jamie Beirne’s basket mid-way through the third quarter tied the scored at 30 and the two teams trades leads four times the rest of the period until Hunter Beirne’s 3-pointer.
“The first half we kept coming back,” Norman said. “That’s kind of been our story. There are times in the year when we have tough streaks. … When we don’t shoot well. Sometimes things are tough on us. To their credit, they always bounce back. They always stick with it. They never give up. They have that kind of heart and they love each other. They work hard for each other. They don’t give in. I’m proud of them for that.”
Auburn-Riverside senior center Faith Turner scored a game-high 23 points.
The Kamiak offense appeared to become stagnant in the last half of the fourth quarter.
“We kind of got a little complacent with our offense,” Norman said. “We needed to keep moving, not only the ball but our bodies. Every once in a while when we’re not doing very well sometimes we start standing around, watching a little bit. We might have done that a little too much tonight, especially late.”
The Knights did a good job of attacking the middle and going after Turner in the second and third quarters, Norman added. But struggles with the outside shot hurt Kamiak, he said.
Kamiak’s lack of size also impacted rebounding, more in the second half than in the first half.
“Sometimes when it comes to rebounding, outreaching them is not an easy thing to do,” Norman said. “We couldn’t outreach them too often, although we didn’t give up much in the first half with regards to offensive boards. But I think the second half was a little different. We gave up a few more there, gave them a few more chances.”
Kamiak had to win three straight loser-out games to advance to the state regional contest.
Only four players will be back next season.
“We’ve got some young good talent coming up,” Norman said. “We want to keep this tradition going.”
Huguenin was glad to have the opportunity to finish out her high school career with her senior counterparts in the state playoffs the last two seasons.
“It was fun, just doing it together,” she said. “We’ve been together for so long. … It was fun to end up the last two years like this. I just love all of them so much. It’s so hard realizing that this is the last time I’m going to play with a lot of them.”