TACOMA — For the better part of two weeks the Kamiak High School boys basketball team has played the role of the giant killer.
But Thursday afternoon Kamiak found itself confronted by a literal giant, and that proved a foe too towering for the Knights to slay.
Richland’s 7-foot-3 center Riley Sorn was an irresistible force on both ends of the floor, and the Knights fell to the Bombers 72-42 in the quarterfinals of the 4A state tournament at the Tacoma Dome.
“Oh lord, they’re good,” Kamiak coach Cory West said about the Bombers. “With the size, the physicality, the strength, the shooting ability, that’s hands down the best team we’ve seen this season.”
Carson Tuttle scored 14 points to lead Kamiak (17-9), the 14th seed, which fell into the fourth/sixth bracket. The Knights play second-seeded Skyview in a loser-out game at 12:15 p.m. Friday at the Tacoma Dome.
Cole Northrop poured in 22 points for fourth-seeded Richland (24-1), which advanced to the semifinals against top-seeded Gonzaga Prep at 5:30 p.m.
The unheralded Knights came into Thursday’s contest riding a string of unlikely results. Kamiak, which started the season 6-7 before going on a run of 11 wins in 12 games, upset No. 10 Glacier Peak for the district title, upset defending state champion Kentwood at regionals, then upset No. 3 Union in the first round of state to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in school history.
The Knights hoped they had one more upset in them against the Bombers. However, Kamiak had no answer for Sorn. On offense Richland was able to throw the ball over the top of the defense to Sorn for easy buckets at the rim — Sorn finished with 13 points — and when the Knights adjusted their defense the Bombers drained the open 3s. On defense Sorn completely nullified Kamiak’s inside game, taking away both the post-up and the drive as he blocked eight shots and cleared 14 boards.
It was on defense where Sorn’s presence was felt most. Six of his blocks came in the first half as the Bombers doubled up the Knights 38-19 at halftime and never looked back. Sorn’s presence played a big part in Kamiak shooting just 24.6 percent from the floor (14-for-57).
”It was different,” Tuttle said about playing against a 7-foot-3 opponent. “It’s a little big harder to get into the lane and get shots, the big guy altered a lot of shots. Even if he wasn’t getting the blocks, just his presence there makes it difficult around the rim.
“We knew coming into the game we probably weren’t going to get a whole lot of easy layups or shots in the paint,” Tuttle added. “We tried to get shots around the 15-foot mark a little bit more. We still tried to attack and get in the paint, but he was there a lot of the time and he played really well around the rim.”
Though Sorn was the difference maker, Richland is far from a one-player team, as Kamiak learned to its detriment. Bombers wing players Northrop, Ryan Wagar (13 points, six rebounds) and Garrett Streufert (eight points, even rebounds, six assists) consistently hurt the Knights both inside and out.
“We said to the team, [Sorn] can score 20 or 30, but if the other guys are scoring that’s when we’re in trouble,” West said. “And they had everybody scoring.”
Jordan Meyer was the only player other than Tuttle to get anything going offensively for Kamiak, scoring nine points off the bench.