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By David Pan 

Knights’ pressure defense shuts down Marauders | Girls basketball


Last updated 2/6/2019 at Noon

Kamiak won back-to-back games for the first time this season.

The Knights jumped on Monroe early to prevail 45-28 to secure the Wesco 4A’s fifth and final berth to this week’s Wes-King District girls basketball tournament.

Kamiak followed up with a 48-34 victory over district rival Mariner Friday, Feb. 1, at Kamiak High School.

The Knights used their suffocating defense to shut down the Marauders in the first half, building a 24-9 halftime advantage.

“Our guards were doing a really good job of trapping and our wings on the side were doing a really good job of reading the passes and where they were going,” said junior guard Jordyn Porea, who led Kamiak (6-7 in the league, 6-13 overall) with 15 points.

Kamiak coach Brian Norman was pleased with the Knights’ defensive effort but found fault with the offense.

“The defense was pretty good. We pressed them,” he said. “They tried to be patient with the press. That was effective. That shortened the clock in the half-court offense. We probably forced some pretty tough shots for them. We rebounded all right.”

The Knights’ offense was a different story, especially in the second half. Kamiak ended up turning the ball over 27 times after committing only 13 turnovers against the Bearcats.

The Marauders (2-11, 2-27) outscored the Knights 14-11 in the third quarter and cut the Kamiak lead to 11 points late in the period.

“We had multiple opportunities to really increase the lead,” Norman said. “I was proud of our effort. We do play hard. But we’ve just got to be more in control. I like the frantic defense. I want to see more control on offense. We’re a little bit frantic on both ends.”

Norman noted that Kamiak brought up some players from junior varsity and that it’s a new dynamic when newcomers are inserted in the lineup. As the Knights head into the postseason, they will need to work on settling the offense.

“We just get a bit excited, I think, and we just try to move too quick,” Norman said. “We don’t read the defense. We just really need to slow down and let the offense come to you and let it flow.”

Friday’s uneven performance came only two days after what Norman viewed as the Knights’ best game of the season against the Bearcats. Kamiak lost 54-38 to Monroe earlier in the season.

“For 32 minutes we were pretty solid,” Norman said.

Porea said that a good start to the game was key to the victory. Kamiak took a 13-4 lead after the first quarter and extended it to 22-9 at halftime.

“We played really aggressive defense and we got to the basket every possession,” she said. “We were finishing really good around the rim and all of our guards hit a 3 from the outside within the first five minutes of the game.”

Mariner coach Jamie Gepner said that patience against Kamiak’s press helped jumpstart the Marauders’ offense in the second half.

“We moved the ball better, so our shots weren’t as contested,” she said. “Also sometimes they just need to get into a game a little bit to build their confidence. So, they were able to do that in this game and put those shots down. I felt like they played with more of a belief in themselves tonight. …. They also took better shots.”

Senior Yuni Septimo-Ruiz led Mariner with 8 points, though every player who stepped out onto the court scored.

Once the shots starting falling in the second half, the Marauders build some momentum off the support from their fans and their teammates.

“The energy off the bench, all the positive words, we really feed off of it,” Septimo-Ruiz said.

The Marauders graduate only two seniors – Septimo-Ruiz and Melissa Pere. The third senior, Rachael Hendrickson, suffered a season-ending injury earlier this season.

The progress of the young team under first-year coach Gepner has been significant.

“I’ve seen so much growth in these girls,” Gepner said. “They came in with us putting in completely new stuff. It was a learning process. Tonight, I barely even had to call a play in the second half. They just played. They made basketball moves. They made good cuts. They were able to set good screens for each other. They’re turning into basketball players and that’s a huge step for us.”

Up next for Kamiak is a loser-out playoff game at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 7 against host Newport (8-5, 11-11), the Kingco’s No. 4 seed. The Knights finished second in the Crest Division and placed fourth in the Kingco tournament.

A fast start is going to be important for the young Knights, who have only two seniors on the roster.

“If we have a strong start and we can keep that strong start and keep the energy throughout the whole game, we’ll be fine,” Porea said.

Norman stressed that Kamiak has to be fundamentally sound on offense.

“If we do those things we can control – run the offense, make good passes, catch the ball – do those fundamentals, we can be a pretty good team,” he said. “It always comes back to the fundamentals. Sometimes we do those well but not as consistently as we need to in postseason play.”


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