Logan Werner, the affable team manager of the Wilson High girls basketball team, excitedly skipped around the ShoWare Center floor with the cut-down net in his hand – looking like Roy Rogers trying to lasso a horse.
The girls in the bright red uniforms all had cheesy smiles on their faces. Their 32 minutes of determined, disciplined basketball Monday paid off in the grandest of fashions.
Wilson won its first West Central District championship in the craziest of ways – blowing out perennial powerhouse and top-ranked Prairie High School of Vancouver in the title game.
The fourth-ranked Rams won, 68-42, in Kent, and will go to this weekend’s Class 3A regional tournament as the WCD’s top seed. They play Bonney Lake at 6 p.m. Friday at Mount Tahoma High School.
Bethany Montgomery had a game-high 18 points and five assists for the Rams (20-2). Tia Briggs added 16, and Violet Morrow had 14 in what became a fourth-quarter dismantling of the Falcons (21-3).
After the Greater St. Helens League champions got Aislinn Konig’s short jumper to open the quarter and cut its deficit to 46-38, Wilson scored the next 15 points over a four-minute span.
The outburst was fueled by two elements not always associated with Rams basketball – consistent suffocating defense and teammates sharing the basketball with one another.
In fact, the last of four consecutive Prairie turnovers during its 41/2-minute scoring drought led to a four-point Rams possession – and a 61-38 Wilson cushion with 3:10 remaining.
“It was said we can’t beat the good teams,” Wilson coach Michelle Birge said. “We just proved it. We beat the best team in the state – we just didn’t defeat them, we destroyed them.”
A lot of raw emotion spilled out of the coach, who once was a standout basketball player across town at Foss High School. Relentless doubters had criticized the program’s effort against elite teams, she said.
Some of them included her players’ parents.
“It is OK, because we hadn’t proven it,” Birge said. “Now we’ve proven it.”
The catalyst for all of it was Montgomery, the Eastern Washington University signee who has been known, at times, to be a showboat on the court. Not Monday – she was all business, making the extra pass to the powerful Briggs inside, and also playing free safety on defense.
“I think it’s the most heart and motivation we’ve played with,” said Montgomery, the Narrows 3A most valuable player.
“We know we’ve got to play like a team. You can’t win state with just one player, with two players or three players. You have to have the whole unit. You have to have those five on the floor, and you have to have a bench cheering, just to be into it.”
Prairie, which suffered its first loss to a school from Washington this season, has to be asking itself one question – what happened Monday?
“They played really good defense today,” first-year Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “We don’t see man (defense) all year because of our speed. We’ve got to get used to players up in our grill.”Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 todd.milles@ thenewstribune.com blogs.thenewstribune.com/preps @ManyHatsMilles