Photos by Kurt Howard
Aqueelah Williams of Mt Rainier bring the ball up court on a fast break. CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE OR SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE

SLIDESHOW: Mt. Rainier girls grab SPSL title

Trust between twins Brittany and Jordan McPhee lifted the No. 1-ranked Class 4A Mount Rainier Rams to a championship at the Les Schwab SPSL Shootout, otherwise known as the league tournament, at the ShoWare Center on Thurs., Feb. 6.

When the top-ranked Mount Rainier girls basketball squad needed a boost in the final quarter, the twins gravitated to each other as a natural feeling of their deep bond through the years. Connecting with each other for all 17 of the Rams' fourth quarter scores, the junior dynamic duo led Mount Rainier from behind to beat No.7 Todd Beamer of Federal Way, 57-56, and grasp the the SPSL championship.

After the game, Jordan who scored 10 of her 15 points in the fourth quarter with a game total of four steals, talked about the trust of the twins.

"If there's one person I trust with the basketball, it's Brittany," Jordan said. "I've played with her my whole life and trust her. I just know where she is the whole time on court."

In the end, it was Jordan draining two free throws with 4.9 seconds remaining to put Mount Rainier ahead, 57-54, before Bria Rice drove and missed a lay in before registering an inconsequential putback for the final score.

Brittany, who scored 27 points (11-for-18 from the field) to go along with 12 rebounds, nine blocked shots and four assists was confident about her sibling's ability to convert the charity tosses.

"I've shot enough free throws with her to know she can make them," she said about her sister's calm ability under pressure.

After dominating the low post and exhibiting quickness for leads that stretched up to nine points in the first half, the Titans finally fell very ill at ease with the Mount Rainier pressure defensive tactics.
"We definitely had an effect by forcing the turnovers," said Mount Rainier head coach Bob Bolam.

Forcing turnovers, grabbing steals, hustling for rebounds and blocking shots, the Rams opened the curtain of comeback.

With just more than seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, Quinnessa Caylao-Do fired in a corner three-pointer to extend the Beamer lead to 46-40.

Then, the McPhee twins began wreaking destruction on both ends of the court, starting with a Jordan McPhee left side trey and a scooped shot lay up. Brittany McPhee took her turn to convert two free throws that gave the Rams a 47-46 lead at 5:47 and followed with an inside basket.
As the two teams fought back and forth, Mount Rainier established leads of 52-48 and 54-50 on the strength of the McPhees' defense and scoring.
As the tallest player on the court by at least three inches, six-foot, three-inch Megan Huff scored back-to-back baskets inside to force a deadlock at 54-all as 1:20 showed on the game clock.

Brittany McPhee drained the first of two free throws to edge Mount Rainier ahead, 55-54, with just more than a minute remaining.

Todd Beamer threw the ball out of bounds on its next possession 11 seconds later, but the Rams and Titans exchanged possessions as the clock ran down.

Mount Rainier inbounded from the baseline in back court with 36.2 seconds showing and Brittany dribbled away precious seconds before being fouled with 7.1 seconds remaining.

Since the Rams were not in the penalty situation on fouls, they inbounded from the side in front of their own basket. More than two seconds elapsed while Jordan simply held the ball until being fouled and going to the line for what became the clinching free throws.

Beamer coach Corey Alexander was pleased with the effort of his team.

"I'm really impressed with our girls," he said. "They played hard against a veteran team. They didn't back down...We just ran out of steam a little bit. But it still gives us good momentum going into the next round."

The 44-33 rebound advantage that the Titans held was primarily due to the powerful presence of Huff, who scored 28 points on 13-for-25 from the field with 13 rebounds. Caylao-Do singed the twine for 13 Titan points.

Mount Rainier (20-1) moved on to a Tues., Feb. 12, 7 p.m home match up against Greater St. Helen's No. 3 in the opening of the Class 4A West Central/Southwest bi-district tournament. Beamer (17-4) hosts Gig Harbor on the same night.

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