TACOMA — The Snohomish High School girls basketball team knew it was up against a buzz saw in its Class 3A state quarterfinal against Kamiakin on Thursday morning, and the Panthers needed all hands on deck if they wanted to upset the Braves.
So when Snohomish got into early foul trouble, the Panthers had no answers.
Kamiakin’s full-court pressure defense and strength in transition proved too much when Snohomish wasn’t at full strength, and the Panthers fell to the Braves 57-39 at the Tacoma Dome.
Snohomish, the No. 11 seed, stayed with fourth-seeded Kamiakin through the first 10 minutes of the game, with the score tied 15-15 early in the second quarter. However, Courtney Perry, Snohomish’s only interior presence, was whistled for her third foul with 5:09 remaining in the first half and had to go to the bench. Kamiakin closed out the half on a 14-3 run to build an 11-point halftime lead, and the Panthers were never able to get the deficit back to single digits.
“It was hard because Courtney Perry got in foul trouble so quickly,” Snohomish coach Ken Roberts said. “Obviously they killed us on the boards, and she’s a big part of what we do inside, both offensively and defensively. When she was on the court we were fine, when she wasn’t we weren’t able to keep up with them.”
Kamiakin’s Oumou Toure, who will play for Butler University next season, had 14 points and seven rebounds to lead the Braves (23-2), who advanced to face top-seeded Prairie in the semifinals at 3:45 p.m. Friday at the Tacoma Dome.
Perry and Maya DuChesne each scored nine points to pace the Panthers (17-8), who play Wesco 3A rival Edmonds-Woodway in a loser-out contest at 9 a.m. Friday at the Tacoma Dome. Snohomish won 46-44 when the teams met during the regular season.
Snohomish had a creative game plan for dealing with the Braves, using a triangle-and-two defense, with Ella Gallatin on Toure and a rotating cast of guards on Kamiakin point guard Alexa Hazel. The defense was effective in limiting Toure and Hazel in the first half.
But Kamiakin’s defense was even more effective. The Braves clamped on a 1-2-2 full-court trap every time they scored, and it was the main cog in forcing 22 Snohomish turnovers. It also resulted in fast-break points, with Hazel (12 points), Regan Clark (11 points) and Rylie Clark (nine points) regularly streaking down the floor for baskets in transition.
“The transition buckets in the first half are what killed us,” Roberts said. “We were trying to get Maya into shooting position and we didn’t have other kids rotating back who were supposed to rotate back. We probably gave up 10-12 points on transition buckets, and that’s not something we’ve been doing. They rebounded well, and I think they have confidence in Toure and (Symone) Brown rebounding by themselves, so they leaked kids out and did a good job with that.”
Perry returned in the third quarter, but picked up her fourth foul just 1:15 in. With the result hanging in the balance, Roberts kept Perry in the game, and Perry fouled out with 1:06 remaining in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter Kamiakin pushed the lead to as many as 25 points before the teams emptied the benches.