TACOMA — The Jackson girls basketball team dug a hole for itself early on against Mount Rainier and just couldn’t catch up.
The Rams outscored Jackson 18-3 in the first quarter and cruised the rest of the way, defeating the Timberwolves 57-39 in the first round of the 4A state tournament Thursday morning at the Tacoma Dome.
Both teams exchanged baskets to start the game, but Mount Rainier, the No. 2 4A team in the state according to the final Associated Press poll of the regular season, went on a 16-1 run to end the first quarter and take a commanding lead early.
“I feel like we didn’t come out with as much energy as we should’ve,” said Jackson’s Sierra Anderson. “… We didn’t show how great of a team we actually are. We were trying to play too much individual basketball and not like a team like we usually do.”
A couple Timberwolves attributed the rough start to nerves.
“We tried not to be but I think we came out a little nervous with all the lights and everything,” said sophomore Kelli Kingma. “You can’t come out to a slow start like that.”
“We were a little timid on offense,” said Kristin Stoffel, Jackson’s leading scorer this season. “They were a lot more aggressive.”
Mount Rainier star sophomore Brittany McPhee, one of the top players in the state who averages 20 points per game, had eight of her game-high 22 points in the Rams’ first quarter run after Anderson made a basket to tie the score at two.
“She’s a lot quicker and more explosive that we thought she’d be,” said Timberwolves’ head coach Jeannie Boyer. “She’s a tremendous player.”
After Jackson settled down in the second quarter the game was pretty even the rest of the way. In the final three quarters Mount Rainier had a slight scoring edge, 39-36.
“We played them pretty even in the second and third quarters,” Boyer said. “That start killed us. We gave them too much of a cushion and had to fight back.”
Kiana Gandy scored 16 points for the Rams and McPhee’s twin sister Jordan McPhee netted nine points and grabbed seven rebounds. Brittany McPhee had nine boards.
Jackson was led by Anderson’s 12 points. Kingma, who joins McPhee as one of Washington State’s top recruits in the Class of 2014, scored seven points and had the only 3-point basket of the game in the opening minute of the second quarter as Jackson more than doubled its score with a couple baskets.
On defense Mount Rainier limited the Timberwolves’ ability to get the ball into the low post. Stoffel, who averages 16 points a game for Jackson, was limited to five points by the Rams. Mount Rainier had a slight rebound advantage – 35-32 – over the Timberwolves.
“Their defensive pressure is really good,” Boyer said. “Usually we can get more points on the inside. Mount Rainier’s pressure, length and speed made it difficult.”
Jackson plays in a consolation game today at 9 a.m., with a chance to finish as high as fourth place in the state tournament. Boyer thinks it’s still very possible for the Timberwolves to bring a trophy back to Jackson High School.
“There’s still some hardware to be grabbed, even if it’s not first place,” Boyer said.
The Timberwolves said they are going to use the emotion from this game as motivation for their next opponent, Eastlake. Jackson wants to show those at the Tacoma Dome what it can do.
“We’re really excited about tomorrow,” Kingma said. “We know we didn’t play our best basketball.”
Said Stoffel: “We’re gonna use our anger about how we did in this game to help us come out strong tomorrow morning.”
At Tacoma Dome
Mount Rainier–J. McPhee 9, Goucher 0, Freeberg 0, Guillot 4, B. McPhee 22, Mitchell 2, Santos 0, Piper 0, Fiso 4, Gandy 16. Jackson–K. Kingma 7, Rawlins 4, Anderson 12, Lopez-Flores 0, B. Kingma 0, Hagans 3, M. Johnson 2, Murphy 0, A. Johnson 2, Stoffel 5, Mason 0, Gjertsen 4. 3-point goals–K. Kingma 1. Records–Mount Rainier 26-1 overall. Jackson 19-5.