MUKILTEO — A season ago, the expectations were high for the boys basketball team at Kamiak High School. But inconsistent play and injuries derailed what looked to be a promising season.
One year later, the Knights are finally living up to expectations. An 86-72 victory over Edmonds-Woodway on Tuesday night kept the Knights unbeaten (4-0) in 4A Wesco South play and set up a showdown with undefeated Jackson on Thursday. The winner will take sole possession of first place.
Kamiak earned the victory over Edmonds-Woodway by doing what it tries to do every time they step on the court, control the tempo of the basketball game. The Warriors were able to hang with Kamiak for much of the first three quarters, but down the stretch the Knights proved to be too much.
“We practice like that every day,” Knights head coach Cory West said. “We have a tough JV team that pushes us every single day. And that’s what we want to do, we want to keep the pace of the game going up and down. Tempo is huge.”
Senior post Imaan Vicente continued his recent string of impressive games, scoring 30 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. His 11 third quarter points helped the Knights extend the lead to 12, though the Warriors cut the lead to six before the end of the quarter.
Perhaps the biggest spark for Kamiak was junior Tyler Nielsen. Nielsen spent much of the first half on the bench with foul trouble, and then responded by taking over the game in the second half. He didn’t miss a shot all night, shooting 5-for-5 from the field, including 3-for-3 from the 3-point line and making both of his free throw attempts. He finished the game with 15 points, all in the second half.
“He had to sit because he got in foul trouble early,” West said. “My coaches said he probably needs to sit the rest of the half and I said, ‘yeah he does.’ So he sat and he came out with momentum. He has just been on fire lately.
“It wasn’t even just his shooting. He had three or four offensive boards and a couple of saves that were huge turning points. So I think (sitting on) the bench helped to be honest. I’m not even being sarcastic, I think the bench helped.”
For the Warriors, junior wing Jason Smarr and senior point guard Devin Joseph helped keep the team in the game in the second half. Smarr scored 10 of his 16 points and Joseph scored 13 of his 21 after the intermission.
The Warriors had cut the lead to 70-59 early in the fourth quarter when Smarr came up with a steal and had a clear path to the basket. Smarr, however, missed a dunk attempt and the Knights came back down and Nielsen quickly knocked down a deep jumper. The four-point swing seemed to give the Knights momentum that carried them down the stretch.
It didn’t help Edmonds-Woodway’s cause that seemingly the only offense that it could muster late in the game was off penetration by Joseph. It was working, but it certainly wasn’t enough.
West called the victory a “team win” for the Knights and he was right. Nine of the 11 Knights players who played scored, led by Vicente and Nielsen. Point guard Josh Wisnubroto added 17 points, including two 3s, and Henderson Belk scored eight, including some key rebounds in the second half.
“It was a team effort,” West said. “That was the biggest thing is that guys are starting to come along every game. Every game they are becoming closer. But we still have a lot more on the table that we have yet to unleash that I’m ready for, as far as team and comradery, but they’re working on it.”
Vicente said Tuesday’s victory was a big step for the Knights.
“It was huge considering no one thought we were going to be where we are right now,” he said. “Beating Edmonds-Woodway, which is a very good program, it was a huge step for us.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Kamiak H.S.
Edmonds-Woodway—Devin Joseph 21, Alex Hull 6, Brad Rice 4, Luke Langdale 3, Tate Budnick 3, Sam Wooley 3, Theo Lebesis 4, Ibro Polovina 0, Jason Smarr 16, Travis Bakken 7, Henry Olson 5. Kamiak—Josh Wisnubroto 17, Chance Lord 0, Liam Jouett 5, Tyler Nielsen 15, Aman Hussein 0, Imaan Vicente 30, Jonathan Lee 3, Drew Blacksmith 3, Brandon Wright 4, Henderson Belk 8, Simran Mand 3. 3-point goals—Mand 1, Wisnubroto 2, Vicente 3, Nielsen 3, Budnick 1. Records—Edmonds-Woodway 2-2 league, 3-3 overall, Kamiak 4-0, 4-2th