When Ed Shields interviewed for the job of head girls basketball coach at Reardan a year ago, he stressed the need to build a program that featured five players on the floor all at once and not a few players with a supporting cast.
After Saturday night’s 55-42 victory over Toutle Lake in the Class 2B championship game in the Spokane Arena, he assessed that first season.
“I think we’re there,” he smiled.
Reardan won its first state title since 1988 – the third state title in six seasons during an impressive run.
“I think these girls are aware of those teams, but that was 23 years ago,” Shields said. “None of them were alive then. I think some of their parents have told them the stories. Some of these girls had parents that played here.”
Reardan rode a trio of talented sophomores to the school’s fourth gold ball trophy. Point guard Chantal Heath pumped in 16 points to lead all scorers, connecting on three of five shots from behind the three-point line.
Kelsey Moos added 13 points without being the spear point of her team’s offense. And 6-foot-1 post Katy Berge added eight points, four rebounds and a pair of steals while helping to clog up the middle.
Shields said he was particularly impressed with how far his young players have come over the past season.
“When I got here, Kelsey was just 5-8 and she’s now 5-11,” he said. “(5-11 junior post) Liz Flowers was just 5-8. Chantal was playing the No. 2 guard and we moved her to the point. I watched (junior guard/post) Lauren Schulz shooting over the summer and I really liked her shot and knew we needed to get her to the perimeter; she was playing post at the time.
“When you make that many changes, it takes a year to adjust. I think we’re there now.”
In Toutle Lake, Reardan found a spirited opponent who refused to back down all night. The Ducks led by as many as four points midway through the third period and continually answered every Reardan challenge the fourth quarter.
“That’s not really our game that we played tonight,” said Toutle Lake’s 6-0 senior post Jamie Wall. “Our game is much more of a half-court game. I don’t think we showed people just what kind of a team we are tonight.”
Shields couldn’t disagree more.
“I thought coming into this game that Toutle Lake would be gassed,” he said. “They had that nail-biter (Friday) night against Lake Roosevelt and I thought that might have taken a toll. It was such an emotional game for them.
“But I have to give them credit. They came out and played their hearts out. I hope it was a fun game to watch.”
The second-place trophy caps the most successful careers for the six Duck seniors: Wall, Sarah Andrews, Payton Hoff, Kelsey Hanson, Christian Carlson and Nichole Locke. The second-place state trophy marks the highest finish in school history and provides a bookend to the third-place trophy the team earned a year ago.