For that rare night in her storied high school basketball career, the girl who came out in the No. 12 jersey for Mount Rainier High School appeared a mere mortal.
But the girl who finished the game wearing the No. 44 jersey held up the Rams’ whole season in dramatic fashion.
Of course, the hero was Stanford-bound Brittany McPhee, who struggled mightily for three quarters, saw her team down by 10 points with 5 1/2 minutes to go – and even had to find a clean jersey just to continue playing.
Capping a furious rally, McPhee’s 8-footer in the lane with 16 seconds remaining won it – and the Rams survived an exhausting 56-55 victory over Moses Lake in the Class 4A girls basketball semifinals Friday night in the Tacoma Dome.
The No. 4 Rams (25-3) will meet No. 1 Gonzaga Prep (25-1), a 61-56 winner over second-ranked Lynnwood, for the state title Saturday at 5 p.m.
But first, this wild fourth quarter is worth combing through – a game the Chiefs firmly were in control of, up 51-41 with 5:29 to go.
But their first bad break came when star point guard Jessie Loera came out of a scrum with blood gushing out of her nose. She immediately ran her bench for treatment, and was out a total of 1:07.
In Loera’s absence, the Rams scored six consecutive points to cut it to 51-47 at the 3:48 mark.
Moses Lake (21-5) clung to a 55-54, and forced the last of McPhee’s 11 turnovers when the basketball went off her foot underneath the Rams’ basket with 37.6 seconds to play.
“I don’t know, they had our number going for a while,” Rams coach Bob Bolam said. “It didn’t look very good.”
But Moses Lake turned it over, and the Rams’ Kaiti Freeberg was fouled with 31.5 seconds remaining and went to the free-throw line.
She missed, but McPhee kept the possession alive. That is when things got very interesting.
On a dead ball, an official saw blood on McPhee’s jersey and signaled for her to go off. The only way the Rams could keep her in the game was to call timeout. Fortunately they had one left.
Athletic trainers wiped the blood off, but the referee wasn’t satisfied.
So McPhee ran off the court and into a back area where she could change into a new jersey – No. 44.
“It kind of made me mad,” McPhee said. “I mean, seriously, I have to change my uniform? I was like, ‘Let’s get this over with.’”
McPhee got the ball in the lane, turned and sank a short shot to give the Rams the lead. She finished with 26 points (11-for-27 shooting), 12 rebounds and eight blocked shots.
After a Chiefs’ timeout, Loera ran off a screen, but her off-balance one-handed shot from 10 feet missed. Emily Olson got the rebound and appeared to get a shot off before the buzzer – and was knocked to the ground.
No foul was called, and Mount Rainier got away with one.
“Would it have been nice with 0.5 (seconds to go) to get my senior captain to the free throw line when she’s a 75-percent shooter?” Moses Lake coach Matt Brophy asked. “Heck yes, I would have like to have gotten that opportunity to see if she could get us a win.”
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442