Even Brittany McPhee's 34 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocks weren't enough against the balanced Panthers from Spokane.
TACOMA — This time, Brittany McPhee wasn’t enough.
She’s an explosive weapon for the Mount Rainier girls basketball team. But Mead of Spokane features a bigger arsenal, and it was on display Friday night in a 51-50 victory over the top-ranked Rams in the semifinals of the Class 4A state tournament at the Tacoma Dome.
Mount Rainier lost despite McPhee’s 34 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocked shots in front of several college scouts, including assistant coaches from Stanford and Washington. No one else on the team scored more than five.
No. 2 Mead, on the other hand, finished with three players in double figures — Delaney Junkermier with 15, Ashlyn Lewe with 14 (plus 11 rebounds) and Jade Redmon with 12.
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“It’s hard,” McPhee said, choking back tears as she walked out of the locker room. “But I know we’ve got to keep our heads up for (Saturday).”
Mount Rainier (26-2), which lost in the semis for the second straight year, faces No. 9 Lake Stevens at 1 p.m. Saturday with third place on the line. The loser takes fifth.
The Panthers (24-1) play No. 6 Arlington (22-4) at 7 p.m. Saturday, looking for their first title since 1996. They lost the 2010 championship game to Auburn Riverside, when Redmon was a freshman.
“I’m just glad we got the win,” Redmon said. “I just want to end this thing right. We almost had it my freshman year. This is exactly where we want to be. I want to come out and get it.”
To get where Mead is, the Rams are going to have to develop a better arsenal of their own, coach Bob Bolam said.
“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,” he said. “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- or triple-team her. We have to cover her and her and her.’ We’re not there yet.”
McPhee made 15 of 23 shots. The rest of the team made 6 of 27.
“She’s a terrific player,” Redmon said, “but I think our defense was a little too tough on her and her team.”
Especially at the end. After Redmon missed a free throw and Emily Fiso rebounded with 12 seconds left, the Rams got the ball back in their star’s hands.
McPhee dribbled up court but got triple-teamed near the corner and had to dish to twin Jordan, whose off-balance shot from 15 feet grazed off the rim at the buzzer.
The Rams looked fatigued after Thursday’s late come-from-behind win over Inglemoor and never led.
For the second year in a row, there would be no magical finish. Mead made sure of that.
Sandy Ringer: 206-718-1512 or firstname.lastname@example.org