Brittany McPhee has her arm swatted by Kentridge's Kiki Gilbert going up for a shot. CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE OR SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE
SLIDESHOW: Mount Rainier wins Regional
PUYALLUP - It took a little prodding and encouragement before Class 4A West Central/Southwest Washington bi-district champion Mount Rainier (25-1) ascended to a 69-50 girls basketball win against No. 7 WCD/SWW Kentridge at the 2013 WIAA Hardwood Classic Regional Championships held at Puyallup High School on Friday, Feb. 22.
With the win the state top-ranked Rams return to the Tacoma Dome for a 9 p.m. first round state match up with Inglemoor on Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Tacoma Dome with the hope of improving upon last season's third place finish. Kentridge (14-12) concluded its season.
"They had nothing to lose," stated Ram head coach Bob Bolam. "We knew they would scratch and claw. They had us on our heels for awhile. We had to remind our girls at halftime that they had to work and fight for it. It wasn't just going to be given to us."
Maintaining a slim 37-34 margin with 6:24 remaining in the third quarter, the Rams blew the door down for fifteen consecutive points behind the eight points of Brittany McPhee who closed out with a game-high 29 points including a 13-of-16 achievement from the free throw line.
The seventh seed from bi-district battled strongly for two quarters.
Enthusiastic and energetic Kentridge charged to first quarter leads of 5-0 and 9-2 before Aqueelah Williams energized Mount Rainier with nine of her game total of 14 points.
Fouled on an offensive rebound, Williams downed two free throws to ignite a 15-point Ram run. The Ram athlete followed with a three-pointer from the corner and a breakaway lay up. She then penetrated for an inside basket followed by Kaiti Freeburg's two charity tosses. Brittany McPhee completed the surge with two consecutive baskets and Mount Rainier eventually led 18-13 after one quarter.
The Chargers kept the Rams in their sights, never trailing by more than seven points against a mistake-prone Ram contingent until Mount Rainier held a 35-31 halftime edge.
Clawing Kentridge climbed within 37-34 to set the stage for the Ram game settling surge.
Heading into the top eight at state, Bolam had some definite concerns.
"Hopefully, this is a wake-up call for us," he concluded. "We've got to play better than that. Too many turnovers. We just need to hang on to the ball."
Jordan McPhee contributed 11 points to Mount Rainier cause while Emily Fiso notched seven. Freeburg added four as Amanda Goucher and Amber Guillot scored two points apiece.
Alicia Dugan ran the floor to score 19 points for Kentridge.
If the Lady Rams win their opener they will play a state semifinal at 9 p.m. Friday, also at the Tacoma Dome. A win there puts them into a 7 p.m. Saturday championship.
Photo gallery for this story