The 2012 State 2B girls basketball championship may have been decided in the 2011 title game.
Locked in a tense battle with the Brewster Bears and Chandler Smith, the Reardan Indians defended their title by scoring the last 11 points to pull out a 65-57 victory, their 31st in a row, at the Arena Saturday night.
“That was a crazy game,” Reardan star Kelsey Moos said. “I’ve been in a lot of big games before. I knew what this was like. I knew what it takes in the fourth quarter. The game’s not over until that last buzzer.”
It appeared that the Bears (24-3), particularly Smith, were going to deny Reardan (27-0) a fifth state championship. The sophomore got three players in foul trouble in the first half and poured in 35 points through three quarters.
But after Andie Lee Gebbers scored five quick points in the first 90 seconds of the fourth quarter to produce a 57-54 lead for Brewster, the Bears never scored again.
“I don’t know what happened. I wish I had an answer,” Brewster coach Randy Phillips said. “We missed three chip shots and had a couple of turnovers. We just didn’t execute.”
The Bears missed their final 10 shots and had seven turnovers.
“We knew that we had to not be so aggressive to get more fouls,” Reardan guard Chantel Heath said. “We sagged off, let them go in and take their shots. We played safe.
“Then we started attacking them.”
“We stepped into the lane, which we should have done in the first half, and denied the wings,” Reardan coach Ed Shields said. “We kept Chandler out on the perimeter in front of us.”
Though the lead was only 40-36 at the half, Brewster was clearly the more dominant team, starting with Smith, who poured in 23 points.
The free-throw line told the story – the Bears were 16 of 22, with Smith getting 10.
“We didn’t attack the basket in the first half. We stood on the perimeter trying to get our shots,” Shields said. “I think we got a little bit mad and we stepped up. We just grind it out.”
The Bears, who trailed 22-16 at the end of the first quarter, got a little separation with a 13-2 run to turn a four-point deficit in a 40-33 lead. During that time Moos, Lauren Schulz and Zari Reeves, a key front-court reserve, all picked up their third fouls.
“I knew my teammates were capable,” said Schulz, the only senior starter. “I believe in them.”
The Indians were within shouting distance because they made 7 of 16 3-pointers, with Heath hitting three for 11 points.
“I stepped up my game,” she said. “I knew when … we had three starters out I had to lead my team more, get everybody involved.”
She had nine of her 22 points and Schulz added a critical 3 in the third quarter to offset Smith, who scored 12 points.
The biggest basket was probably Heath’s buzzer-beating heave from almost halfcourt that bounced high off the rim and almost settled on the top of the backboard before dropping through for a 54-52 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Then Moos came to life, playing flawless defense on Smith – who grabbed 12 rebounds – and grabbing almost every rebound to finish with a 13-point, 10-rebound game.
“They’re a great team and Chandler is a fantastic player,” Moos said. “That was a really frustrating game for me, but at the start of the fourth quarter our team wanted it.”
Brewster was the last team to beat Reardan, winning 46-41 in Wenatchee in what was then considered a state game that allowed No. 1 seeds a second chance to make the final eight.
“It means much more since it’s back-to-back,” Heath said. “It’s truly great to know we went undefeated.”