Kamiak’s Vivian Mawudeku gets her show blocked by Lake Stevens’ Nisa Ellis during the game on Wednesday in Mukilteo. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Kamiak’s Vivian Mawudeku gets her show blocked by Lake Stevens’ Nisa Ellis during the game on Wednesday in Mukilteo. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Lake Stevens girls surge past Kamiak with 4th-quarter rally

Nisa Ellis pours in a game-high 34 points and scores the deciding bucket in the Vikings’ 62-60 victory.

MUKILTEO — The Lake Stevens High School girls basketball team found itself trailing for most of the night, but Nisa Ellis and the Vikings weren’t going to fade away.

The senior forward poured in 27 of her team’s 39 points through the first three quarters to keep Lake Stevens within striking distance late.

Then, after a fourth-quarter rally, Ellis scored the late bucket that put the Vikings ahead for good.

Ellis’ putback with 15 seconds left capped a 34-point performance as Lake Stevens overcame a sloppy start and battled back from an 11-point deficit in the final period to beat hosting Kamiak, 62-60, in the Wesco 4A opener for both squads Wednesday evening.

“The girls hung tight and what really turned the tide is we started to play together more,” Lake Stevens coach Seth Dodge said. “We stopped trying to be so individual and just did it as a team and found our post who was on fire tonight. … The other girls just took care of the ball and made it easy for her to looks down low.”

Sisters Keira and Noelani Tupua sparked the Vikings’ fourth-quarter push with 12 combined points during a 15-2 run that saw Lake Stevens (8-2 overall, 1-0 Wesco 4A) gain the lead for the first time since the first quarter. Keira Tupua tied it with a layup and put Lake Stevens ahead, 55-53, on another bucket inside with 2:39 remaining.

Lake Stevens’ Noelani Tupua steals the ball during the game against Kamiak on Wednesday in Mukilteo. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Lake Stevens’ Noelani Tupua steals the ball during the game against Kamiak on Wednesday in Mukilteo. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The closing minutes featured two ties and two lead changes. Kamiak (6-5, 0-1) regained the advantage when standout senior Bella Hasan knocked down a mid-range jumper through contact and converted the ensuing free throw for a 60-59 lead with 31 seconds left.

With the game on the line, the Vikings went back to their senior in the post, and Ellis wouldn’t be denied, scoring the deciding bucket after rebounding her own miss.

“I think we realized we had to work together as a team and utilize our strength, which is height,” Ellis said of the comeback. “So we had to get it in to our posts, pass the ball around and not make bad turnovers. In the fourth quarter, it was just us making the least amount of mistakes and working together as a team.”

Lake Stevens’ Nisa Ellis scrambles for a loose ball during the game against Kamiak on Wednesday in Mukilteo. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Lake Stevens’ Nisa Ellis scrambles for a loose ball during the game against Kamiak on Wednesday in Mukilteo. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The Knights had a shot for the win at the buzzer, but Hasan’s 3-point attempt drew the back of the rim, and Lake Stevens held on for a key league victory in a battle of Wesco 4A contenders.

“It was one of our biggest keys talking about being 0-0,” Dodge said. “Everybody is 0-0 coming into league and what we did in our (non-league schedule) is nothing compared to what we’re going to face here. We knew everything about this game was going to be big.”

Ellis added nine rebounds, Noelani Tupua had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Keira Tupua netted all seven of her points in the fourth quarter for Lake Stevens.

Hasan and sophomore Zia-Daye Anderson led the way for Kamiak and had the Knights in control for much of the first three quarters.

“The girls played really well,” Kamiak coach Tina Brown said. “I’m very proud of them.”

Hasan registered 30 points and Anderson added 18. The backcourt duo also helped create defensive pressure while Kamiak forced 22 Lake Stevens turnovers, including 13 in the first half.

Kamiak’s Zia-Daye Anderson attempts a layup during the game against Lake Stevens on Wednesday in Mukilteo. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Kamiak’s Zia-Daye Anderson attempts a layup during the game against Lake Stevens on Wednesday in Mukilteo. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

“They are very talented players,” Dodge said. “It just felt like we were finding them more than ourselves. So at halftime we just talked about making solid passes and taking care of the ball.”

Ellis started heating up early and scored 10 points of Lake Stevens’ 14 second-quarter points to keep deficit within 31-27 at halftime. She then topped it with 11 of her team’s 12 points in the third while the Knights threatened to pull away and gained their largest advantage at 47-36 with 23.8 seconds left until the final quarter.

Anderson pushed Kamiak’s lead back to 11 at 51-40 — matching the largest lead of the night for either side — with a layup early in the fourth. But Lake Stevens turned up the pressure defensively, forced four straight turnovers and went on the run that led to the win.

“They really had us for a half,” Dodge said, “but our girls battled and I’m really proud of the grit they had.”

Herald reporter Taras McCurdie contributed to this report.

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