The first time Hermiston played Kamiakin in Mid-Columbia Conference play, the Braves ran away with a 62-26 victory.
The Bulldogs were not going to let that happen again.
Jordan Thomas had 20 points, and Jazlyn Romero 11 as Hermiston hung tough with Kamiakin the entire game before falling 47-41.
“They didn’t play a great game, but that helped us a little,” Hermiston coach Juan Rodriguez said of Kamiakin. “A lot of things I wanted to see us improve on, we did. Where we struggled was turning the ball over and they got some shots.”
Kamiakin (18-1 overall, 14-1 MCC) already has secured the top seed to regionals, while Hermiston (7-12, 5-10) will be the third seed. Kennewick is No. 2.
The Braves, behind nine points from Alexa Hazel, took a 17-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Bulldogs turned to Thomas in the second. She scored eight of her game-high 20 points in the quarter as the Bulldogs went on a 12-4 run to enjoy a 23-21 lead at the half.
“We came out and executed our game plan,”Rodriguez said. “We did a good job of establishing Jordan in the first half.”
While the 6-foot-4 Thomas was a threat on offense, she also created problems for the Braves on defense.
“With her in the middle at 6-4, that can make you second-guess going in there,” Kamiakin coach Lane Schumacher said. “Usually, we can kick it out and hit shots, but they weren’t there tonight. We are fortunate to get the win on a poor shooting night.”
It was Kamiakin with a 10-4 run in the third quarter as the Braves retook the lead 31-27 heading into the fourth.
The Braves led by 11 points with 4:32 to play in the game as Oumou Toure grabbed an offensive rebound and put the ball in the basket.
Hermiston climbed back into the game with five consecutive free throws to pull within 40-34, and a three-point play by Thomas had the Bulldogs within 43-39 with 28 seconds to play.
Kamiakin made 4 of 6 free throws the final 26 seconds of game to hold on for the win.
“In the second half, they did not fold,” Schumacher said of Hermiston. “They were always just a couple of possessions away. Hats off to them, they battled all night.”
Hazel led the Braves with 17 points, while Symone Brown added 12 and Toure 11.