Mt Rainier's team photo shows all smiles from winning the West Central District III Tournament. CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE OR SCROLL DOWN TO VIEW MORE
SLIDESHOW: Mount Rainier defense destroys Todd Beamer
KENT - State top-ranked Class 4A Mount Rainier never gave an inch in the girls basketball Presidents day Tip-Off Championships held on Monday, Feb. 18 at the ShoWare Center.
In a previous game on Feb. 7 at this same locale, the Rams had to make a fourth quarter comeback to beat Todd Beamer, 57-56, in the SPSL title game. This time the desire exemplified by six-foot junior Brittany McPhee showed up right away during the West Central/Southwest Washington bi-district 51-33 title victory against No. 7 Beamer of Federal Way.
"We knew who they were and what they like to do," said Ram star Brittany McPhee who blistered Beamer for a game-high 26 points. "This game was important for seeding. Our ultimate goal is getting to state and doing well there."
As the No.1 bi-district seed for the second straight year, Mount Rainier (24-1) moved on to a Friday, winner-to-state, loser out regional face off at Puyallup High School in an 8 p.m. game against No. 7 WCD/SWW seed Kentridge (14-11) whom the Rams have beaten twice this season. Todd Beamer (20-5) gets a regional Sweet Sixteen draw against sixth-ranked Arlington (19-4) at 6 p.m. in Puyallup.
Destructive defense by Mount Rainier immediately unnerved Beamer into critical early turnovers that translated into points.
Although the Rams ran the court, they kept the game from turning into an exchange of fast paced, up and down scoring exchanges. At times, Mount Rainier would pull up to execute half court offense that surgically dissected the Beamer defense, resulting in numerous good looks at the basket.
By the time the Titans could collect themselves, the South Federal Way outfit was staring at a 14-0 deficit with Brittany McPhee leading charge on a 10-point effort. Megan Huff's basket with 16.1 seconds left in the first quarter kept Todd Beamer from a scoreless period.
In the previous 57-56 SPSL championship loss to the Rams, six-foot, three-inch Huff was a major factor with her inside presence to the tune of 28 points.
Due to the swarming defense, the Titans had problems running the court and setting up a half court offense. When TB was able to briefly start its offense, the jumping Brittany McPhee and other defender often denied the inside pass or simply stole the ball away when it was put to the floor. Huff also expended energy trying to run the court and help her teammates get across half court. As a result, Huff was held to only five points.
After leading 24-11 at the half, Mount Rainier kept mixing defenses to keep Beamer off balance as well as enforcing the rules of engagement. Beamer got as close as eight points in the third quarter before Brittany McPhee triggered a 14-2 run that was culminated by a Brittany assist to Amanda Goucher with 5:28 left in the fourth quarter.
"The last game we stood around a lot, especially against the zone,"observed Ram head coach Bob Bolam. "This time, we were able to work our inside-outside game better."
Beamer played without freshman point guard Bria Rice who has a sprained ankle and missed her third consecutive game.
"It's tough when you don't have your primary ball handler out there," said Beamer head coach Corey Alexander. "But we showed some heart. We could have folded."
With her eye on the top prize, Brittany McPhee also often recalls last year's state tournament, where the Rams were edged in the semifinals by Central Valley of Spokane on a three-pointer with less than five seconds in regulation game time.
"Gosh, we almost had it," she reminds herself. "I really want it."
Floor leader Jordan McPhee was also in double figures with 13 Mount Rainier points, including a trio of three-point baskets. Amanda Goucher, Aqueelah Williams and Emily Fiso had four points each.
Freshmen Quinessa Caylao-Do scored 15 points while Nia Alexander scored 13 points as the only two Titan scorers besides Huff.
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