Photos by Kurt Howard
Brittany McPhee and Jordan McPhee of Mt Rainier disrupt a shot by Mead's Ashlyn Lewey.

SLIDESHOW: Mead balance tips Mount Rainier

TACOMA - Sometimes a varied assortment of weapons can overcome one super destructive force.

Mead of Spokane used a balanced attack to hold off the Brittany McPhee-led Mount Rainier comeback in a 51-50 semifinal victory against the Rams in the 2013 WIAA/Dairy Farmers of Washington/Les Schwab Tires girls basketball Hardwood Classic state tournament at the Tacoma Dome on Friday, March 1.

Mount Rainier (26-2), which lost in the semis for a second consecutive season, went on to face Lake Stevens at 1 p.m. Saturday with third and fifth place standings at stake.

Brittany McPhee was true dynamite with 34 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocked shots, but the rest of the team featured no other individual scorers with more than five points.

The Panthers utilized a triumvirate of double figures scorers to accomplish their mission. Delaney Junkermier scored 15 points while Ashley Lewe notched 14 points with 11 rebounds. Jade Redmon completed this group of scorers with 12.

"Their starting five is all solid," said Ram head coach Bob Bolam. "I just don't think we ever really formed an offensive cohesion where we could really find other weapons that would help us win big games. "Brittany carried us most of the time. Just finding other weapons we can use so we're like Mead and people can say, 'We can't just double-team or triple team her. We have to cover her and her.' We're not there yet."

McPhee scored 15 of Mount Rainier's hard earned 22 first half points to keep the Rams within 30-22, but Mead's crisp passing to different people in their offensive arsenal enabled the Panthers to pull away against a fatigued Mount Rainier squad that showed the effects of the late Thursday night comeback win against Inglemoor and carry a 45-33 margin into the fourth quarter.

"We were dead tired in that fourth quarter," added Bolam. "Give our girls some credit. They found some energy and came back. I'm proud of that."

It was time for Brittany McPhee to step to the forefront again.

The talented all-around player victimized Mead pivot and cousin Mackenzie McPhee often and scored eight of the Rams' next 11 points with Ajah Piper's banked three-pointer accounting for the remainder before twin sister Jordan McPhee converted two free throws to draw Mount Rainier within 47-46 as 3:21 showed on the scoreboard clock.

Williams later nailed an outside shot to pull Mount Rainier within 49-48 in a game that never saw the Rams in front only to have Redmon counter for the Panthers.

With 59.4 seconds remaining in regulation, Brittany McPhee surfaced again with a basket to make the score 51-50.

After Redmon missed a free throw, Emily Fiso rebounded before the Rams passed the ball into the possession of their star player.

Dribbling up the court, Brittany McPhee was triple teamed near the corner and had to dish the ball to Jordan McPhee, who only had time to heave an off balance shot that whisked off the rim as the buzzer sounded.

"It's hard," a gracious and sobbing McPhee said after exiting the locker room area. "I wish we could have closed...I know we've got to keep our heads up."

Mead won the rebound battle 43-31 and had nine more second chance points. The Panthers defense recorded 18 stops to the Rams' 13.
Brittany McPhee shot 15-of-23 from the field while her teammates were only 6-of-27.

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.