KENNEWICK — Wa-Hi’s Big Nine Conference Cascade Division opening boys basketball game at Kamiakin featured eight lead changes and three ties in the second half.
It featured 11 lead changes and six ties overall.
The final score, 62-58 for the Braves, filtered down to free throws in the final two minutes.
The Braves shaded Wa-Hi in that department, going to the line 28 times and canning 16 shots, while the Blue Devils hit 7-for-10 freebies.
Wa-Hi drew 25 fouls to 16 for Kamiakin, and three Blue Devils fouled out.
With 1:26 on the game clock, Wa-Hi’s Michael Weisner scored inside off an assist from Colton Arias and drew a foul. His bucket gave the Blue Devils a 55-54 lead, but his chance for a 3-point play rimmed out.
The Braves’ Shad Fletcher answered with a layin and drew a trip to the line, which he converted, for a 57-55 Kamiakin lead.
Colton Arias had a two-shot trip to the line with 40 seconds left to play, and closed the gap to 57-56. The Blue Devils would draw no closer in the final seconds.
Kamiakin’s Case Rada converted a three-point play for a 60-56 lead with 16.3 seconds on the clock.
Wa-Hi’s Gary Winston closed the gap to 60-58 with 11 seconds to play, after racing full-court for a layin.
Kamiakin then ended the scoring with 2-for-4 from the line in the final 10 seconds.
The loss left the Blue Devils 0-1 in the division and 3-1 on the season and facing the 3-0 Eastmont Saturday night at the Wa-Hi gym.
Kamiakin went into Saturday at 6-0.
"The kids played well," Wa-Hi coach John Golden said. "That was a great high-school game. Kamiakin is good. We know that. There are no nights off in the Cascade Division. This is the way it’s going to be every night. I told the kids that, and there are seven other teams that have to come in here (Kamiakin’s gym) and play, too.
"I saw some good things out there," he said. "I thought we rebounded well tonight (33 boards for each team). That’s a very athletic (Kamiakin) team, and I thought we stuck with them rebounding-wise.
"Gary obviously shot well in the first half, and Michael came to life in the second half," he added.
Winston led all scorers with 26 points, including 16 in the first half.
Weisner scored 22 points, 19 in the second half, and ripped off a team-high 10 rebounds.
Fletcher led the Braves with 20 points, including 10-for-15 from the free-throw line.
Garrett Anderson score 11 points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds for Kamiakin.
While Kamiakin outshot Wa-Hi at the line, the Blue Devils outshot the Braves from the floor. Wa-Hi shot 46 percent from the floor (23-for-49) to Kamiakin’s 40 percent (21-for-53).
Wa-Hi, however, started slow, going 2-for-11 in the first quarter and trailing 12-6 after the first eight minutes.
Winston, who scored four of Wa-Hi’s first-quarter points, hit his stride in the second period. He connected on his first four shots in the period, and four of Wa-Hi’s five attempts, including a pair of 3-pointers. He finished with 12 points in the period.
Wa-Hi led 16-14 with 3:30 left in the first half, but ended up trailing 23-21 at the intermission.
"This is a senior team, and we talked about that," Golden said. "They hit us with one of their best shots in the beginning, and we just bounced right back. That’s what I expect out of these guys. They’ve been through the battles and wars, and there’s going to be battles and wars every night from now on."
Weisner, who had three points in the first half, scored two consecutive buckets to put Wa-Hi up 25-23 with 7:06 on the third-quarter clock.
Despite Weisner’s 11 points in the quarter, Wa-Hi trailed the Braves 43-39 going into the final period.
"I just saw some good things," Golden said. "We’ve got to shore some things up a little bit defensively. We’re fouling a little too much, but we’ll shore that up and we’ll bounce back.
"This is going to be a dogfight every night," he continued. "This league is anybody’s to win.
"We have to get back on track and take care of business," he said. "So, we’re right back at it with another good team, and we’ve got to protect our home court."
WA-HI (58) — Winston 11-22 2-2 26, Aguiar 1-4 0-0 3, Arias 1-4 1-3 3, Weisner 9-14 2-4 22, Maddess 0-2 0-0 0, James 1-1 0-0 2, Alden 0-1 2-2 2, Ceron 0-0 0-0 0, Watson 0-1 0-0 0, Sumerlin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-49 7-10 58.
KAMIAKIN (62) — Hayfield 1-4 1-3 4, Rada 2-10 2-5 7, Holle 4-12 3-3 11, Fletcher 5-5 10-15 20, Anderson 5-145 0-1 11, Hunt 0-0 0-0 0, Pedley 4-7 0-1 9. Totals 21-52 16-28 63.
Wa-Hi 6 15 18 19 — 58
Team 2 12 11 20 19 — 62
3-point goals — Wa-Hi 5-18 (Winston 2-8, Agular 1-3, Arias 0-1, Weisner 2-4, Maddess 0-1, Alden 0-1), Kamiakin 4-13 (Hayfield 1-4, Rada 1-3, Holle 0-4, Anderson 1-1, Pedley 1-1); Total Fouls — Wa-Hi 25, Kamiakin 16; Fouled out — Wa-Hi (James, Arias, Alden), Kamiakin (None); Technical Fouls — None; Rebounds — Wa-Hi 33 (Weisner 10, Arias 6), Kamiakin 33 (Anderson 13); Turnovers — Wa-Hi 9, Kamiakin 5; Assists — Wa-Hi 10 (Arias 4), Kamiakin 7 (Fletcher 3).