Oregon juggernaut edges Mount Rainier in OT

KENT - It was a win that would have been coveted greatly, but in the final analysis, the potential payoffs nearly balanced the scales against the instantaneous letdown.

Fighting back from a nine-point fourth quarter deficit behind ultimate competitor Brittany McPhee, the No. 1 Washington state Class 4A girls basketball team from Mount Rainier took the battle to overtime before falling 54-52 to the No.1 Class 6A team (in the highest state of Oregon classification) of Oregon City in featured action at the King Showcase held at the ShoWare Center on Mon., Jan. 21.

In their first defeat of the season, the Rams (16-1) were as buoyant as could be anticipated as they departed from the locker room after dropping such a tense tussle.

"We've been fighting the flu all weekend," said McPhee who scored the final nine points of regulation and closed out with 30. "I am really proud they fought hard. I think it is a really good game to prepare us for February and hopefully, March."

McPhee did her best to keep Mount Rainier undefeated, but the Pioneers - who were ranked No. 13 nationally before a loss to Central Catholic - made the final statement on Jenae Paine's buzzer-beating goal in overtime.

Shaking up the Rams for 22 game turnovers with their lightning-quick and forceful full-court pressure, the Pioneers shot only 2-for-27 wide-open 3-pointers and could not quite stretch the lead enough to put their foes down for the count out blow.

These efforts were still good enough to keep Oregon City (15-1) ahead 46-37 with 2:43 left in the fourth quarter.

At this point, McPhee reached the jump site of her end game domination. Maneuvering and slithering to score from 15 feet and in, the Ram super star converted a standard three-point play followed by two consecutive baskets before she was fouled while quickly driving to the basket with 3.2 seconds remaining in regulation.

After she swished in the first free throw, Oregon City called time out. Returning to the line, McPhee calmly created a duplicate image the first shot to send the game into overtime after she had scored the final nine points of the fourth quarter.

McPhee's innate ability to grab rebounds surfaced with four offensive rebounds out of her total of 12. Despite playing with the flu, twin sister Jordan notched 12 points and six rebounds. She threw up during the break before overtime and was not available for further play.

In the four minute overtime, the Pioneers wheeled forward to score the first four points, but Aqueelah Williams nailed a three-pointer for the Rams. Oregon City missed its next shot from the field, although an unheeded Chelsi Brewer sneaked in to nail an offensive rebound lay up with 1:55 left as the Pioneers led 52-49.

Mount. Rainier called time out to set up its offense and Amber Guillot fired home a shot beyond the arc 24 seconds later to knot the proceedings at 52-52 as Oregon City set up a final possession.

"It was good to see other kids step up and keep working hard," said Ram head coach Bob Bolam.

Paine initially missed a 3-pointer with a few seconds to go, but the ball rotated back to her off a rebound, enabling her to take one step closer-in and drain an 18-foot corner jumper that hit nothing but net as the buzzer sounded.

"They took away the outlet and trapped the rebounders," added Bolam. "They did a great job of trapping and transition. We haven't seen pressure like that." .

Hectic schedules were a part of each squad's recent itinerary with Mount Rainier holding off Kentwood 63-61 the previous Saturday and Oregon City edging by Clackamas, Ore., by one on the preceding Friday.

"That's just the OC way," Paine said about winning close games. "That's what we do."

Oregon City has a renowned program with multiple state championships and regularly displays high level college-bound players on its rosters.

A duo of Division-I scholarship senior athletes that are Santa Clara bound joined Paine in her Monday efforts.

Jenae's twin sister Jo had 13 points and eight rebounds while 5-5 guard Montana Walters contributed 11 points and nine assists.

After the Rams played their fourth game in seven days, coach Bolam had high praise for his squad and looked forward to further accomplishments.

"They gutted it out," he concluded. "It was a great effort. To come back with a lot of kids not feeling well...we sucked it up and came through. Going unbeaten would have been nice...all our goals are still in front of us."

Mount Rainier moved on to destroy Thomas Jefferson 69-43 the next night in SPSL 4A competition. Emily Fiso burned the nets for a career 20 points. Brittany McPhee added 16 and Danika Santos scored 10. Jordan McPhee sat this one out, but the Rams gave plenty of game time to the reserves as eight out of nine players that entered the game were able to score points.

Three players scored in double digits for the homestanding Raiders. Jada Piper had 12 and Jaylynn Piper earned 11. Reno Whitcomb chipped in 10.

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