KENNEWICK – It wasn’t for lack of trying that did in Mead in its 4A regional girls basketball semifinal.
It may have been because the Panthers tried too hard that they lost 48-47 to Moses Lake Friday afternoon at the Toyota Center.
With 51 seconds remaining in the game and the Panthers leading 47-44, Tifa Puletasi was whistled for her fifth foul attempting to block a shot by Jordan Loera.
Loera made both free throws, but more important, it sent the last line of Mead defense against Chiefs’ 6-foot-5 Carly Noyes to the sidelines.
Following a Mead turnover, Noyes posted as Moses Lake took 20 seconds off the clock and scored an uncontested layin with 8 seconds to play sending the Chiefs (20-5) to state and the Panthers (19-5) into the consolation bracket.
The Panthers play Lewis and Clark, a 79-46 victor over Kamiakin, in loser-out action at 11 a.m. today. The winner plays again at 7 p.m. for a berth to state.
“We’ve got to bounce back,” Mead coach Regan Drew said. “Our biggest challenge is getting mentally ready after a game like that.”
Mead led from nearly the outset, the biggest a 10-point bulge early in the second quarter.
But the Panthers went cold in the second quarter and Moses Lake caught up at 21 before the Chiefs fell back by four at intermission.
Mead led 41-34 through three quarters before a 0-for-11 stretch that covered nearly six minutes of the fourth quarter left the Panthers trailing 44-41.
More damaging, perhaps, were the foul troubles that plagued Puletasi and also Jazmine Redmon, who finished with four.
“Definitely a factor was Tifa’s foul situation,” Moses Lake coach Matt Strophy said. “When she fouled out, our girls got confident.”
Puletasi had kept Noyes in check when Mead took its biggest lead in the first half. When she sat out the second quarter with two fouls, Noyes scored eight points, including six of the team’s last eight, to tie the score.
Noyes had 12 at intermission and finished with 21 with her only fourth-quarter basket coming after Puletasi’s fifth foul.
Redmon’s foul troubles created another matchup problem. She couldn’t defend the other half of Moses Lake’s offense and Loera scored 15 of her 22 points in the second half. Between the pair, they finished with all but five of the Chiefs’ points.
Loera followed Kelly Sutherland’s fourth quarter-opening 3-pointer with seven straight points, including a 3-pointer.
“That put us back within distance,” Strophy said. “Kelly and Jordan’s 3s really helped.”
Alisa Beard finally broke Mead’s scoring drought with a coast-to-coast layin in traffic. Redmon, who finished with 14 points, scored on an up-and-over drive and Puletasi got Mead’s final basket with a minute left. Then came the foul and Mead’s fortunes shifted one last time.
“It probably would have been different without the mismatches,” Drew said. “We tried to play good fronting defense with help on the back side. Our undersized (posts) worked hard.”
The Panthers were impressive on the boards. Redmon finished with 15 rebounds and Beard with 10, eight in the second half. But the team was 22 of 67 shooting in the game.
Mead and LC faced each other three times this season with the Tigers holding a 2-1 edge. But the Panthers won the last meeting in the District 8 4A championship game.
LC 79, Kamiakin 46: Unaccustomed to playing on the second court in Kennewick, the Tigers (23-2) found themselves behind much of the first quarter against the outmatched Braves (6-20).
But they ratcheted things up to finally take a 10-8 lead and poured in 28 second-period points for a 42-21 halftime lead.
Katie Blevins hit two 3-pointers and scored 10 of her 14 points in the second quarter. Sarah Kliewer scored seven of her 15, hitting all five free throws. Devyn Galland was 6 of 8 from the field and finished with 14 points.