For years, the Kamiakin girls basketball team was one of the top 3A programs in the state.
Graduation took its toll on the Braves last spring, but Hermiston coach Maloree Moss still sees Kamiakin as a formidable opponent.
The Bulldogs (14-8) and Braves (5-17) will meet at 9 a.m. Friday at the Toyota Center in a 3A District 8 loser-out game. The winner advances to the second-place game at noon Saturday against the loser of Friday’s Kennewick-Mt. Spokane game. The top two teams advance to regionals.
“This is a higher-stakes game than the last time we played them,” Moss said. “It’s loser-out. We played a lot of girls last time, and he rotated five players at a time. We won’t see that again.”
Kamiakin coach Lane Schumacher’s team has a different look than the first two times it played Hermiston — 76-50 and 63-39 losses.
The first game, junior Regan Clark still was recovering from a soccer injury. Two weeks ago, the Braves were without junior Amani Davis, who was under concussion protocol.
“Regan had a good game for us against North Central,” Schumacher said of their District 8 opener. “She had 23 points. It’s nice to see her getting more aggressive with her shots.”
While his team’s shooting has improved, Schumacher is more concerned about what the Bulldogs are capable of.
“They have some girls who can shoot, and shoot deep,” Schumacher said.
“I’ve seen it firsthand. We need to do a better job of stopping them, and taking away the dribble and penetration. We need to focus on containing their shots and protecting from long range.”
Moss would like to see her team attack the rim and do a better job of getting offensive rebounds, which proves to be difficult at times because they do not have a true inside presence.
The Bulldogs are led by senior guard Jazlyn Romero, who averages 11.75 points a game, and is one of the team’s top rebounders and playmakers.
“She is something special, for sure,” Moss said. “She is our court leader. The girls trust her, she plays with poise and she stays composed in all situations. This will be one of the biggest games she will play, but she has competed in other sports at a high level.”
Hermiston also gets 10 points a game from Katelyn Heideman, mostly from long range, while Kendall Dowdy and Bailey Young take care of business inside.
Kaylee Young and Jayden Ray play tough defense and can be dangerous from the floor if you lose track of them.
Davis leads Kamiakin with 14 points a game, with freshman Nikole Thomas adding 11.8 for the young Braves.
“Our record is not great, but we keep competing,” Schumacher said. “They have a lot of fight and haven’t quit all year.”