Mount Rainier seniors Brittany McPhee and Kaiti Freeberg proudly display the Bi-district championship trophy and completed bracket board as assistant coach Rod Wallis joins them.
BY Gerardo Bolong
PARKLAND- The number three loomed significantly for the Mount Rainier Rams on Sat., Feb. 22, on the Names Family Court inside Memorial Gym on the campus of Pacific Lutheran University.
Fine tuning the offense while also extending a many tentacled defense, Mount Rainier of Des Moines took command early to win round three of this season's battles against Todd Beamer High School of Federal Way, in a demonstrative 61-41 Class 4A West Central III/Southwest Bi-District girls basketball championship encounter. After losing the first game against the Titans, the Rams have won the last two, each in more convincing fashion.
This was the third consecutive Bi-District for the Des Moines group in its fourth consecutive appearance. No. 1 seeded Mount Rainier (22-3) moved into a loser-out, winner-to-state regional test against fifth-seeded Edmonds-Woodway at 6 p.m. on the campus of Kent-Meridian High School. Beamer faces a tough battle against No. 2 Northwest seed Arlington on Saturday at 2 p.m on the Puyallup High School campus. It was Arlington that eliminated Beamer's chance for Tacoma Dome action last season, 52-40, in the same Puyallup gym.
"We tried to force some things early," Mount Rainier head coach Bob Bolam emphasized. "It took time to settle down to run a good offense and move the ball around better. We used the clock better to get better shots and played good help defense."
Part of the Mount Rainier defensive strategy was to neutralize and factor out two key elements of the Todd Beamer offense.
"Brittany McPhee played in front of the big girl (Megan Huff) and also had some nice backing at times," added Bolam. "This time, we did something different and put Jordan (McPhee) on (Nia) Alexander. This was our best against their best. Kudos to Jordan after being sick last night."
The results revealed a telling story.
Six-foot, three-inch Huff who had 25 points in the Titan 60-53 overtime quarterfinal win against Bellarmine Prep was turned into the invisible girl with six points while Alexander who earned 13 against BP scored eight of her 14 points in the second half, long after the outcome was obvious.
Jordan McPhee, who did not start due to illness, and needed short rest off the court early, stood up to her defensive task well, while providing great floor leadership was stalwart throughout.
After the Rams earned a 9-5 lead following the first quarter, Jordan joined twin sister Brittany in a powerful second quarter as Mount Rainier strongly surged away to a 28-16 halftime lead.
Growing stronger as the game continued, Mount Rainier gave Todd Beamer little respite to mount a comeback, although the combative Titans closed within 35-30 with 1:13 left in the third quarter. At this point in the game, Jordan McPhee scored on a put back basket to end the quarter. Todd Beamer never got closer.
Stanford-bound Brittany McPhee poured in 16 of her game-high 33 points in the fourth quarter and Emily Fiso joined in the scoring to help Mount Rainier run away to the win.
"We have been in that position before and teams came back on us," said Brittany McPhee. "I was just like,Someone has to got to take over and finish this off.' We just needed to focus on ourselves and do what we do."
Sister Brittany was thankful to be able to play well after a tough night before.
"I was throwing up," said Jordan who scored nine points. "It was fun to help get the three-peat."
Fiso worked well inside, particularly the second half, to earn 14 points.
"My outside shot wasn't there, so I focused on working inside," Fiso said.
All Ram players played in the game with Aqueelah Williams botching the additional Mount Rainier points at five
Jordan McPhee, CeCe Tafia, Kaiti Freeberg, Brittany McPhee, Jenna Shamseldin, Simone Johnson, Kenzie Gandy, Aqueelah Williams, Emily Fiso, Maddie Fletcher, and Megan Houston comprised the player roster of the 2014 West Central/Southwest Class 4A girls championship tournament roster.
Head coach Bolam is assisted by coaches Rod Wallis, Ginger Lotulelei, and Kolleen Bourdage. Darren Rawie is the athletic director.
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