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By David Pan 

Kamiak's speed, defense too much for Meadowdale | Boys basketball


Last updated 6/2/2021 at 10:49am

David Pan

Kamiak's Glenn Wabaluku brings the ball up the court against Meadowdale.

Kamiak led Meadowdale 14-8 after the first quarter, but the Knights were far from satisfied.

So Kamiak turned up the defensive pressure and started using its athleticism to get out on the fastbreak.

The results were breathtakingly successful, as the Knights extended their 6-point lead to 15 by halftime and cruised to a dominating 73-42 victory in a Wesco boys basketball game Friday, May 21, at Kamiak High School.

First-year coach Joe DeGrazia reminded his players how important their defense is to their success.

"We know that we have one of the best defenses in the league, and coach told us to turn it up and we did," said senior Glenn Wabaluku. "Everything fell into place."

Senior Jaye Ohonme scored a game-high 18 points and Zach Meyer added 15, all on five 3-pointers. Brendan Beier and Nolan Martin each had 8 points.

"Jaye is such a great player," DeGrazia said. "He's skilled. He's athletic. He's long. He can shoot. He's really strong finishing around the rim."

Like many 3-point shooters, Meyer can be streaky at times.

"When he gets going , he can really fill it up," DeGrazia said. "When we're hitting 3s, then we're energized. It helps our defense as well."

After dropping its season opener 72-70 to Shorecrest, Kamiak (3-1) has played more effective defense, limiting its opponents to 46, 49 and 42 points in three victories.

"We start turning up the pressure on teams," Ohonme said. "They can't handle the ball. We take advantage, get steals. It gets our energy going."

DeGrazia noted Meadowdale came in with a smart game plan.

"They were trying to slow the game down," he said. "They wanted to play a possession game, run their zone defense, control the pace and the tempo."

The Knights started to impose their will on the Mavericks in the second quarter. The goal is to make their opponents feel uncomfortable, DeGrazia said.

"We like to force them to areas on the court where they don't want to go," he added. "We like to get them out of their comfort zone."

Midway through the third quarter, Ohonme hit back-to-back shots and Meyer connected on a 3-pointer to extend Kamiak's lead to 42-19. Meyer made two more 3-pointers later in the period.

"I thought we really got going in the second half," DeGrazia said. "We started off kind of slow. We played much better in the second half. We got rolling. We got some steals and made some shots."

DeGrazia, who teaches at Harbour Pointe Middle School, was hired last summer. He already knew some of the Knights from the middle school. DeGrazia set up regular Zoom meetings, including a conditioning/workout class, to get to know the others.

"That was one means of connection," he said.

DeGrazia also is helping some of the seniors with the recruitment process for college.

"He started reaching out to us even before we worked out," Ohonme said. "He's just involved."

Even though COVID-19 limited face-to-face contact, the transition to DeGrazia has been smooth.

David Pan

Kamiak's Jaye Ohonme shoots the ball over Meadowdale's Aiden Bloomquist during the Knights' 73-42 victory Friday, May 21, at Kamiak High School.

"He's a players' coach, which is good," Wabaluku said. "He understands our strengths, which is speed. He just makes the game fun for us."

Ohonme sees plenty of talent on the roster – now and in the future. The seniors are committed to working with the underclassmen.

"We have some good younger guys," he said. "Us seniors know them all. We're able to help them as much as we can. They're all good basketball players. Kamiak is in good hands for the future."

Kamiak has a 14-player roster with seven juniors and sophomores.

"We kept a bigger number this year with the reason being we've got such a talented group of seniors – Brendan Beier, Glenn, Cole Blacksmith – all these guys are just really talented," DeGrazia said. "We're able to mix in some juniors and sophomores and get them into the rotation. They can learn from the older guys and also get varsity experience, so they're ready to go for next year and the year after that."


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