TACOMA – Mount Rainier superstar Brittany McPhee scored most of her team’s points, but the Mead Panthers will play for the gold ball tonight.
A single player couldn’t beat Mead’s balance – although it was tested to the fullest in the final minutes – as the No. 1-ranked Panthers slipped past the second-ranked Rams 51-50.
Mead (24-1) takes on Arlington (22-4) in the championship game tonight at 7.
Arlington shocked Lake Stevens 66-64 in overtime in the first semifinal.
Mead 51, Mount Rainier 50: The showdown between the state’s top-ranked teams lived up to the hype.
And McPhee is as good as advertised. She finished with a game-high 34 points.
But on the Rams’ last possession, Jade Redmon and Mackenzie McPhee trapped Brittany along the offensive baseline, and her twin sister, Jordan, barely got off an awkward shot that bounced harmlessly off the rim at the horn.
It will be the second time in four years Mead is playing in the title game. The Panthers’ last title came in 1996.
Redmon missed the front end of a one-and-one with 12.6 seconds to go. A minute after the game, Redmon went out to the free-throw line for practice. She missed her first attempt then made her second.
“I can’t make any free throws so I wanted to make sure I got one on this court before I left,” Redmon said. “I wanted to redeem myself.”
Redmon saluted McPhee’s performance.
“She’s a good player but I think our defense was too tough for her and her team,” Redmon said.
Now Redmon wants to end the game better than her freshman year, when the Panthers lost.
“I want to end this right,” Redmon said. “We almost had it my freshman year.
“This is exactly where we wanted to be. I want to come out and get it.”
Gonzaga Prep 59, Kentwood 44: The first thing Bullpups coach Mike Arte had to wonder following his team’s win was what could have been had his team made a couple more baskets the day before.
The Bullpups had short memories, though, and for that they will try to finish fourth. Their previous best finish, fifth, came last year.
Gonzaga Prep rebounded from arguably its worst defeat of the season to win a loser-out game. The Bullpups (22-4) face Inglemoor (22-3) this morning at 9:30 to decide fourth and sixth places.
G-Prep had a shootaround Friday morning at Bellarmine Prep and made it a point to get the ball inside to sophomore post Otiona Gildon. She responded, scoring a career-high 30 points.
“At halftime when they told me I had 20 points I said, ‘What, really?’ ” Gildon said. “We just wanted to make sure we played our game.”
The Bullpups took a 33-24 advantage into halftime and were never threatened in the second half.
Arte said the plan was simple.
“If we’re going to shoot 19 percent let’s do it from 2 feet from the basket and not settle for jump shots,” Arte said. “That opened up jump shots for us. We shot at (BP) because we wanted them to understand that the ball could go into the basket.”