Hours after knocking off the top-ranked team in Class 3A, the Bethel High School girls basketball team was still sending each other messages on Snapchat.
“I couldn’t sleep,” junior Tiarra Brown said. “I was too excited.”
The Braves (20-3) stunned Prairie — the No. 1 team in the WIAA’s RPI rankings — Friday night in the 3A West Central/Southwest bidistrict semifinals at Puyallup High School.
Brown estimates she sent the final message to her teammates around midnight, or maybe a bit after. The Braves needed fluids and sleep, staring down a bidistrict title matchup against Peninsula at noon Saturday.
“I finally went to sleep,” she said. “I think I was the last one.”
“Our girls knew we had to come back and play a (noon) game,” Bethel coach Tim Brown said. “They all Snapchatted each other and told each other — get fluids and go to sleep.”
That message appeared well-received Saturday afternoon in Puyallup. The Braves showcased the same energy and aggression they had against Prairie to pull away from Peninsula for a 58-47 win, and a bidsitrict title.
“Energy,” Tim Brown said. “Heart and energy.”
“We had to make sure we did exactly what we did to Prairie,” Tiarra Brown said. “They’re similar teams. They’re all shooters — (Linsey Lovrovich), Belle Frazier, Piper (Bauer). So, wehad to play the same defense — with intensity and pressure.”
Peninsula (18-4) built an early nine-point lead in the first quarter, but Bethel came firing back in the second, taking a 29-20 lead it never lost into the break.
“They were kind of fatigued in the first half, I could tell. It was all scattered around,” Tim Brown said. “At halftime, I just told everyone we just have to grab our composure, getting back to how we played Prairie, and aggressive.”
Bethel’s lead hovered around two or three possessions for most of the second half, and despite a late Peninsula push, the lead was never seriously threatened.
“They put a lot of pressure on us,” said Frazier, a Portland State signee. “I don’t think our minds were there quite yet. It was too early for us, I guess. We got rattled.”
Peninsula was also coming into Saturday’s title game off of a late finish Friday, when the Seahawks upended crosstown rival Gig Harbor for the second time this season.
“It’s really hard to keep fresh legs when you have to play back-to-back,” Frazier said. “We were tired today, especially with that quick turnaround, but there’s no excuse for losing.”
Frazier led all scorers with 28 points and pulled down 13 rebounds, but was the only player in double figures scoring for the Seahawks.
Tiarra Brown led the Braves with 19 points and 14 boards, while Esmeralda Morales added 14 points, and Kyli Pasamante had 13.
Peninsula was ranked fifth in the RPI entering the contest, and is unlikely to move much despite the loss. The Seahawks should still have a spot secured in the Tacoma Dome as one of the top eight teams — which can lose in next weekend’s state regionals and still advance.
“It’s nice to face a team that’s more athletic, that forces us to box out and prepare us for the Dome,” Frazier said.
Bethel, meanwhile, was on the bubble entering Saturday, trying to work its way into that sacred top eight. The Braves were ranked No. 10, and should they stay there, have to win their regional matchup to advance to the Tacoma Dome.
“We want that eighth spot,” Tim Brown said. “I don’t see why we shouldn’t be the eighth spot. We just played the No. 1 team, got that, and just played another team ranked fifth, so I don’t see why we shouldn’t be up to the No. 8 spot easily.
“This is just a game we have to wait and see what they’re going to move us up to. If we have to go the other route, we’re ready for it.”
B – Sky Lett 7, Esmeralda Morales 14, Kyli Pasamante 13, Aryonna Porreca 2, Amanda Wilkins 3, Tiarra Brown 19.
P – Linsey Lovrovich 5, Renee Doss 2, Esther Pappuleas 2, Piper Bauer 8, Taryn Richter 2, Belle Frazier 28.