Kamiak wraps up best season in school history | Boys basketball

Knights record their first-ever win at 4A state hoops tourney
By David Pan | Mar 07, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan Kamiak’s Braden Leary, Danny Sharpe, Conner Fitzpatrick, Patrick Olson and Carson Tuttle lock arms before a state tournament game against Skyview Friday, March 2, at the Tacoma Dome.

Kamiak’s seven seniors walked off the court for the final time proud of their accomplishments and knowing that they set a high standard for future teams.

The Knights wrapped up their best season in school history with a three-day run at the 4A boys basketball tournament that included the program’s first victory at state.

Kamiak defeated Union 57-48 in a first-round Hardwood Classic game Wednesday, Feb. 28, at the Tacoma Dome.

The victory sent the Knights into a quarterfinal matchup against Richland, which Kamiak lost 72-42 on Thursday, March 1. The Knights then were eliminated from the postseason by Skyview 64-56 on Friday, March 2.

The season-ending loss did not dampen the players’ spirits.

“We had a fun season and a really good run,” said senior Carson Tuttle, who earned second-team, all-state tournament honors. “I’m happy that we went out on a high note, even though we lost. All the guys have a positive attitude. We made it a lot further than a lot of people thought we were going to make it. I think we went out in a great way and a really positive way for our fans and for our community and for our team. It’s a good ending.”

Kamiak (17-10) came into the tournament as the No. 14 seed and was a victory away from advancing to the trophy round.

Skyview led 30-28 at halftime and then outscored the Knights 16-9 in the third quarter to take a 46-35 lead into the final period. Kamiak cut the deficit to five points twice in the fourth quarter.

All seven seniors – Tuttle, Patrick Olson, Conner Fitzpatrick, Jordan Meyer, Landon Overturf, Braden Leary and Danny Sharpe – have meant a lot to the program, said head coach Cory West, who was an assistant coach the other time Kamiak advanced to the Tacoma Dome in 2005.

“They’ve accomplished a lot, not only as individuals, but as a program,” West said. “They’ve gotten our program to where this is the standard. This is where we want to be consistently, not just sometimes.”

Kamiak, who won the district title for the second time in school history, have advanced to the state regional tournament for three straight years.

“To finish it out down here, I think that they’ll walk out with their heads high,” West said. “They know that we gave it our all.”

Tuttle led the Knights with 19 points and Olson and Sharpe each added 11 points in their final high school game. Senior Samaad Hector scored a game-high 26 points for Skyview (25-6), which went on to place sixth.

Tuttle noted that this year’s playoff run was a product of four years of hard work.

“Since we came in as freshman our goal has always been to make it to the Tacoma Dome,” the Kamiak standout said. “It feels good to be able to walk out our senior year knowing that we made it there and knowing that we were the best team in our school history.

“It was a lot of hard work and a lot of adversity we fought throughout the season. We stayed positive and we stayed mentally tough.”

Olson described the moment he stepped out onto the court at the Tacoma Dome for the first time as surreal. He was expecting the bright lights and noise but wasn’t necessarily prepared for the rush of adrenalin.

“It meant a lot. We’ve been together since seventh or eighth grade, all seven of us (seniors),” Olson said. “Watching the game before, it was like ‘Holy cow. We’re playing next at the dome.’ We’ve been coming the last couple of years to watch games and now to actually play here is really cool.”

What was even cooler was recording the program’s first victory at state over No. 3 seed Union. The Knights took a 16-12 lead in the first quarter before the Titans stormed back in the second period to head into halftime with a 28-24 advantage.

Kamiak turned up the defensive pressure in the third quarter and limited Union to only four points, while putting up 18 to seize control of the contest.

“We came into the locker room and we said if every single guy does their job and every single guy executes, we’re going to be able to win this game,” Tuttle said. “We really focused on defense in the second half.”

Sharpe scored 21 points and Tuttle had 19. West noted that Union likes to shoot the 3-pointer, so Kamiak focused on defending the outside shot with good success. The Titans made only 7 of 24 3-pointers.

The Knights’ poise on the big stage impressed West.

“We came here earlier just for them to kind of take it in and not be so nervous,” West said. “I thought they handled it well. A lot of kids get bright-eyed if they’ve never been here.”

“This is the first time we’ve been here since 2005. For us to get a win, it’s big for our school and it’s big for our community,” Tuttle added.

Kamiak then faced its biggest challenge in the quarterfinals, going up against 7-foot-3 senior center Riley Sorn of Richland. Sorn, who scored 13 points, ended up being more of a factor on the defensive end. Teammate Cole Northrop finished with a game-high 22 points to lead the Bombers to the victory. Tuttle had 14 points. Kamiak only trailed 17-13 after the first quarter but then struggled to make shots in the second quarter and ended up trailing 38-19 at halftime.

Seven juniors or sophomores return for the Knights and some other underclassmen also had the opportunity to join the team in the Tacoma Dome.

West was grateful the team’s seven seniors were able to finish their high school careers at the state tournament.

“I want you guys to experience being in the Tacoma Dome and the energy,” West told the seniors. “They got to go out with that energy and the next group gets to look at next year with this type of energy and try to feed off of it.”

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