Brittany McPhee's 25 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks helped the Rams beat Lake Stevens 56-39 in a matchup of teams that lost semifinal heartbreakers Friday night.
TACOMA — No doubt it feels better to go out a winner. Still, it didn’t remove the sting of disappointment one night earlier.
Brittany McPhee, a 6-foot junior, scored 19 of her 25 points after halftime as top-ranked Mount Rainier beat ninth-ranked Lake Stevens 56-39 on Saturday for third place in the Class 4A state girls basketball tournament at the Tacoma Dome.
The Rams from Des Moines lost 51-50 to Mead in the semifinals Friday night.
“We were down about last night, and that was natural,” Mount Rainier coach Bob Bolam said. “Lake Stevens faced the same kind of disappointment …
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“I thought we had good legs under us today. It’s a pride thing. It’s what do you want to see yourself as. You don’t want to mail it in.”
McPhee helped the Rams (27-2) wipe out the empty feeling of two years of close, disappointing state semifinal losses. Mount Rainier equaled last year’s school-best third place finish.
“I always believe in my team. I tried to pump them up and get them ready,” McPhee said. “Ending on a loss would not be fun. Winning felt a lot better.”
McPhee also had 18 rebounds, five blocks, four assists and three steals.
“Brittany’s a great player,” Bolam said. “She’s a coach’s dream. She’s the best player we’ve ever had and I’ve been at Mount Rainier 27 years coaching basketball.”
It didn’t appear that Lake Stevens (20-9) couldn’t shake off Friday’s 66-64 overtime semifinal loss to WesCo 4A North rival Arlington.
“It’s always hard to come off a loss like we had last night,” said Vikings senior Brittney Pahukoa, who scored nine points. “Knowing it would be my last game ever playing high-school ball, that was my motivation.”
Brooke Pahukoa, who will play at Boise State with her twin sister Brittney, led the Vikings with 13 points.
“Energy-wise, I thought the first minute or so it was tough to get going, but we were hurt ourselves by missing some easy opportunities,” Lake Stevens coach Randall Edens said. “That’s just a matter of (being) Day 3 and you expended a lot of energy and you’re a little wiped out. That mental focus wasn’t there like it needed it to be. If we’d made a few easy shots early, it might’ve helped.”