Knights rally to beat Bulldogs | Girls basketball

By David Pan | Feb 09, 2017
Photo by: David Pan Sarah Payne scored a game-high 18 points to lead Kamiak past Mount Vernon 52-40 on Feb. 3.

Kamiak senior Sarah Payne made sure she and her fellow seniors went out as winners in their final regular season home game of the year.

Payne scored a game-18 points and led the charge, as the Knights outscored Mount Vernon 22-8 in the fourth quarter to pull out a hard-fought 52-40 victory during Senior Night Feb. 3 at Kamiak High School.

The Knights struggled early on against the Bulldogs, who took a 13-5 lead after the first quarter. Kamiak cut the deficit to 24-20 at halftime but still trailed 32-30 when the two teams headed to the final period.

“It was kind of hard to find our groove in the first three quarters,” Payne said. “But we just had to snap out of it. We didn’t have an option if we wanted to win that game and we totally came out in the fourth quarter and battled. We got that lead and got the win.”

Hunter Beirne scored 10 points and older sister Jamie added 8 points.

Kamiak coach Brian Norman  suspected that the festivities of Senior Night might have played a role in the Knights’ sluggish play.

Norman waited for the Knights to settle down.

“The girls are excited. Obviously, we have seven seniors,” he said. “We started a little bit shaky, offensively, defensively and Mount Vernon hit some shots early. They had three 3s in that first quarter. They were hitting their open shots and defensively, we weren’t closing out very well. We were kind of closing out, but we weren’t contesting shots.”

Added Payne, “Senior Night is emotional. They were ahead by 4 at halftime and nothing emotional can be a factor in that. We just had to go out and play hard.

“We needed to step up our intensity. I think they were getting some open shots.”

The second half saw more defensive pressure from Kamiak. The Knights didn’t force a lot of turnovers, according to Norman.

“But I think we forced some quicker shots in that second half and they cooled down a little bit,” he said. “We were able to rebound and transition a little bit.”

The Knights didn’t help their cause with 11 missed free throws. Norman said Kamiak is going to have to shoot better at the upcoming district tournament in order to move on.

The Knights (9-4 in the league, 12-7 overall)  will face Mount Vernon (4-9, 6-13)  in a first round game at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9 at Kamiak High School. Kamiak, the league’s No. 3 seed, swept the season series. The winner takes on Lake Stevens at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11 at Snohomish High School.

Kamiak lost twice to Lake Stevens, including a 65-61 decision on Jan. 18. Payne said that on any given night any team in the league can beat another.

“We’re all so even,” she said.

Rebounding, especially against the taller teams, is going to be critical for Kamiak’s playoff success, Payne added.

“We’re a good shooting team, so if we’re doing that and making our shots, I think we have a great chance,” she said.

The Knights simply cannot afford to take a play off when it comes to rebounding, Norman said.

Junior center Carolyn Bruner is the team’s tallest player at 5-feet-10 with Payne, Alexie Morris and Jamie Beirne at 5-9.

“We need to box out on every shot. We need to attack the rebounds and we didn’t do a great job again tonight,” he said. “It’s a focus all the time. It has to be because of our size. We’re athletic enough to get rebounds. We still need to get bodies on people. We’re not going to outreach people.”

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