Did they ever.
With six 3-point goals in the first quarter, including four by senior guard MaireMichael Carroll, the Wildcats jumped to an early double-digit lead they never lost on the way to a 65-50 Cascade Conference victory over the visiting Knights.
The win raised Archbishop Murphy's league record to 10-0 and its season mark to 13-2.
Afterward, Bircher said he was "extremely pleased" with the outcome. "King's is tough," he pointed out, "and they made a nice run at us. But I thought we played smart. Our kids really hung in there and showed some (good) mental toughness."
No question, the opening quarter was decisive. Archbishop Murphy scored the game's first eight points, including two 3-pointers, while King's was committing four turnovers before scoring its first field goal.
Carroll swished her first 3-pointer early in the game, and then added three more in the final three minutes of the opening period.
"MaireMichael was unconscious, and she gets that way sometimes," Bircher said. "She gets on a roll, and it's like boom, boom, boom, boom. And when she starts shooting like that, I wasn't going to take her out. We just let her go."
Though Carroll never scored again, "her four 3s gave us separation," he said. "(The score) kind of went back and forth after that, but that little gap we got in the first quarter held up."
Archbishop Murphy pushed its lead to a game-high 20 points, 33-13, late in the second quarter, though Kings closed to a 14-point deficit at halftime. The second half was evenly matched, with the Wildcats holding margins between 12 and 19 points through the third and fourth quarters.
For Archbishop Murphy, the victory helps avenge the team's sole league loss a year ago -- a King's victory on the Wildcats' court.
Freshman wing Madison Pollock had a big game for Archbishop Murphy, tossing in a game-best 22 points, including 10 of her team's 13 points in the third quarter. Senior center Beth Carlson, who will play next season at Santa Clara University, chipped in 18 points.
King's, meanwhile, had three players in double figures, led by Savanna Hanson, a smooth sophomore forward, who had 16 points.
Knights coach Dan Taylor was pleased with his team's showing, save for the first quarter -- and for that he took the blame.
"I put us in a zone (defense to start the game) that I thought would be effective," he explained. "I didn't respect their shooters enough.
"But I was proud that our girls fought for the entire 32 minutes," he went on. "Archbishop is one of the toughest teams that we've faced all season, and I told the girls (the Wildcats) will be as good as any of the teams we'll face in the playoffs, if not better."
Despite the 15-point defeat, "I thought our girls played at a high-caliber pace," Taylor said. "I thought we grew a lot as a team and I think they're getting to the point where they're going to be ready for the playoffs."
At Archbishop Murphy H.S.
King's 11 10 12 17 -- 50
Archbishop Murphy 22 13 13 17 -- 65
King's--Madison Shinn 0, Mia Hayek 12, Marilyn Jones 0, Julia Berenson 3, Ellie Rasmussen 0, Daylee Hanson 6, Ashley Adams 13, Savanna Hanson 16, Daphne Kieling 0, Karly Hibbard 0. Archbishop Murphy--Beth Carlson 18, MaireMichael Carroll 12, Monti Cooper 0, Megan Wall 6, Madison Pollock 22, Gemma Miller 0, Addison Schmidt 0, Anna Maher 7. 3-point goals _ Julia Berenson 1, Daylee Hanson 1, Mia Hayek 4, MaireMichael Carroll 4, Megan Wall 2, Madison Pollock 2. 3-point goals--Julia Berenson 1, Daylee Hanson 1, Mia Hayek 4, MaireMichael Carroll 4, Megan Wall 2, Madison Pollock 2. Records--King's 7-3 league, 10-6 overall. Archbishop Murphy 10-0, 13-2.
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