“That’s the shot we wanted,” Mt. Spokane coach David Pratt said.
It just didn’t fall.
Trailing by two points with 5.3 seconds left after a war of attrition in the second half, Mt. Spokane ran its offense and – as it has all season long – got the ball to Aspyn Adams on the wing with an open 3-point attempt.
Unlike all season long, it just didn’t go. And it ended the Wildcats’ title aspirations.
Brooke Walling – headed to Fresno State in the fall – scored 17 points and top-seeded Prairie outlasted second-seeded Mt. Spokane 37-35 in the State 3A championship game at the Tacoma Dome on Saturday.
Mt. Spokane (25-2) shot 25 percent and just 4 of 26 in the second half and the teams combined for four field goals in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats went 4 of 27 from beyond the 3-point arc.
“We were deadlocked in the fourth quarter for I don’t even know how long,” Adams said. “Our shots were rimming out. I don’t know what we could have done better with our shots. Our defense definitely kept us in the game.”
“Uncharacteristic for our team,” Pratt said. “I felt like we got good looks. Good, open, clean looks.”
“The ball didn’t go in the hole,” Mt. Spokane’s Jayda Noble said. “What more can I say? We got our open looks. We played as hard a defense as we could.
“We’re a really good 3-point team and the ball just didn’t fall our way.”
Adams, the two-time All-Greater Spokane League first-team selection who averaged 14.6 points in the regular season, finished with five points on 2-of-7 shooting.
“They did a nice job face-guarding (Adams) and running a box-and-one against her,” Pratt said. “In the second half, they went man (-to-man defense). She didn’t get any clean looks until a few of them in the second half there.”
Noble led the Wildcats with 12 points and 20 rebounds – three off the 3A girls tournament record.
“(Noble’s) effort was unbelievable,” Pratt said of the junior who played every minute of all three games. “That kid didn’t sit. She’s just got a motor and just unbelievable on the glass today.”
“Jayda is a beast,” Adams added. “She’s the reason we were even close in this game. Our biggest player today.”
Mt. Spokane outrebounded Prairie 37-29.
“We always preach it: You win the glass, you put yourself in the position to be successful,” Pratt said. “And we did it. We just missed shots.”
It was the Wildcats’ first trip to the state title game and the first time since Shadle Park in 2009 that a Greater Spokane League girls 3A team has played for the championship.
Prairie (25-2), the Greater St. Helens League champion, averaged 65 points while allowing 36 points this season.
“Mt. Spokane is an amazing team,” Prairie coach Hala Corral said. “We knew coming in how athletic they were. They have more than one offensive threat. Believe me, we had to play defense.”
Corral said they paid extra attention to Adams.
“We played a box-and-one on her,” she said. “We weren’t going to let her touch the ball.”
Niveya Henley earned a held ball with 1:01 left to give the Wildcats possession, but Adams missed a 3. After exchanging turnovers, Mt. Spokane trailed by one with 30.3 seconds left.
Adams fouled Cassidy Gardner with 27.4 seconds for a one-and-one. The Portland State recruit made the first and Mt. Spokane corralled the loose ball on the second and rushed upcourt.
Noble drew the defense to the top of the key and she swung the ball to Adams on the wing. Adams fired off the side of the rim and Gardner collected the rebound.
She missed the front of a one-and-one and Mt. Spokane had one last shot, but Averi Adams’ desperation heave from near midcourt banged off the backboard, ending the Wildcats’ title run.
“They weren’t hitting theirs. We weren’t hitting ours. It’s as simple as that sometimes,” Noble said.
“We worked every game to get to this point,” Adams said. “I’m really really proud of my team.”
Noble had seven points and seven rebounds in the first quarter and Mt. Spokane led 13-11.
Noble leaped to save a ball from out of bounds and fed Emily Nelson from from the air for a three-point play to make it 16-14. The Washington Huskies-bound guard then made a 3 and Aspyn Adams hit one from long distance.
The Wildcats led 26-19 at intermission, outrebounding Prairie 21-10. Noble had 12 points and 12 boards at the half.
“Our halftime speech was pretty simple: We have 16 minutes to box out and play defense,” Corral said.
Mt. Spokane came out of the locker room cold and Prairie used a 7-2 run to draw within two with 2:23 left in the quarter.
Walling tied it at 28 with a second-chance rebound and then blocked Noble’s layup attempt.
Emma Main stepped up with a 3-pointer and Mt. Spokane trailed 32-31 after three.
Early in the fourth quarter, Henley scored on a putback and Adams banked a short jumper off the glass to put the Wildcats up by one with 5:48 left. The Wildcats didn’t score again.
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