One of the calling cards of the third-seeded Garfield High School girls basketball team this season has been its smothering pressure defense.
The Bulldogs pressured second-seeded Mount Spokane Spokane in Friday’s Class 3A state semifinals game at the Tacoma Dome, but the Wildcats were well-equipped to handle it.
Mt. Spokane (24-1) took control of the game in the second quarter, and didn’t look back en route to a 52-46 win, giving the Wildcats a spot in Saturday’s 3A championship game against Prairie (24-2) at 3 p.m.
“They did pretty well defending the pressure,” Garfield coach Marvin Hall said.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News Tribune
But, it didn’t start that way.
The Bulldogs took an early 11-6 lead thanks, in large part, to that pressure.
“They have really great pressure,” senior guard Aspyn Adams said. “In the first few minutes, our team was taken aback. We were getting tired, but our game plan was to keep our poise and we did that throughout the game.
“We knew at the end that they were going to come after us because they needed to get those points, and we kept our poise and got the win.”
Mount Spokane coach David Pratt said the pressure did bother his team early, but the message to his players was to relax.
“We turned it over more in the first quarter than we did the rest of the game,” Pratt said. “We knew the pressure was coming, so we called a timeout and said, ‘Relax, it’s just pressure. There are hands on you and you’re going to get the calls eventually.’ Which we did, and that helped.”
After trailing by five in the first quarter, the Wildcats used an 18-2 run to take control of the game.
Mount Spokane led by as many as 14 in the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs were able to trim that to five in 1:37 to play. The Wildcats responded with four straight points to increase the lead back to nine, and Garfield elected not to try and foul in the final moments to extend the game.
Despite the loss, Hall was pleased with the way his team has performed all season.
“At the beginning of the year, no one expected anything of us,” Hall said. “Our name was never mentioned. Mount Spokane’s name was always mentioned at the top. We’ve pretty much just kept on working our way to the top.
“I’m very proud of the young ladies, to get to this place, to get to that final four and play in this atmosphere because it just wasn’t expected.”
Adams led the Wildcats with 16 points. Senior Faith Brantley scored 22 points to lead the Bulldogs (23-3), who play fourth-seeded Kamiakin (24-2) at 11:15 p.m. on Saturday in the third-fifth place game.
NO. 3 GARFIELD
NO. 2 MOUNT SPOKANE
G – Shooting: 15 of 43 (34.9 percent). Free throws: 8 of 13 (61.5). Turnovers: 11.
MS – Shooting: 15 of 41 (36.6 percent). Free throws: 18 of 25 (72). Turnovers: 15.
G – Faith Brantley 22, Dalayah Daniels 10, Samaiyah Tolliver 1, Sahcari Davis 13.
MS – Aspyn Adams 16, Niveya Henley 6, Jayda Noble 12, Averi Adams 6, Emily Nelson 8, Gracey Neal 4.