DES MOINES – The Beamer girls basketball team had been in command before and failed against top SPSL target Mount Rainier in a similar situation.

But that was last season.

After blowing a big lead and losing last year’s district final by a single point, the Titans’ growth was tested again. This time, the answer was firm and resounding.

Fourth-ranked Beamer twice blew 10-point leads, but battled back. Sophomore Nia Alexander sank two clinching free throws with six seconds left to seal a 64-59 decision over second-ranked Mount Rainier in a matchup of SPSL powers on Friday night.

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“I was just focused on those free throws and trying to tune everyone out,” Alexander said. “It was just me and the hoop.”

For the Titans (6-0 overall, 4-0 SPSL South) the win displayed growth after losing three times to the Rams last season. The final loss came in the district championship.

Beamer led 14-4 in the first quarter, but let Mount Rainier come back and tie the game. Then, the Titans stretched their lead back to 61-51 on Alexander’s rebound and layin with 2:16 left in the contest.

With 30 seconds left, Mount Rainier (6-2, 5-0 SPSL North) had the ball down 61-59. But Titans’ sophomore guard Ta’Lea Culp stole the inbounds pass and sank 1 of 2 free throws with 18.4 seconds showing for a 62-59 lead.

“I think we just battled,” Alexander said. “We just needed to stop turning the ball over and concentrate.”

The 5-foot-8 Alexander finished with a team-high 17 points to go with seven rebounds. Teammate Megan Huff, who is signed with the University of Hawaii and hoping to play both volleyball and basketball, played good stretches of defense on the Rams’ Stanford-bound star Brittany McPhee, though McPhee still managed 25 points and 10 rebounds.

Huff piled up 16 points, six rebounds and five blocked shots. Titan teammate Bria Rice, another sophomore, slashed to the basket en route to 16 points as well.

“We’ve got a pretty young team with a lot of sophomores,” said second-year Beamer coach Corey Alexander. “A game like this, pulling it out, shows we’ve matured.”