The Mead girls basketball team’s regular season ended with a loss and the state tournament ended in defeat.
In between, though, it was quite a ride.
Mead (24-6) ran off nine straight victories and secured district and regional championships. The final championship – the state variety – eluded the Panthers late Saturday evening, but just barely as Auburn Riverside held on 56-52 in overtime.
Tears filled Mead’s locker room, and coach Regan Drew had to fight to hold back her emotions afterward. Considering Mead wasn’t picked to win the Greater Spokane League championship, let alone challenge for a state title, the Panthers will no doubt understand in time how special the season turned out to be.
“They battled and they gave everything,” said Drew, who clutched the runner-up trophy moments later as her team left the Tacoma Dome shortly before midnight. “They should hold their heads high. They battled their tails off on the floor and left it all out there and that’s all you can ask for.
“They’ve been like that all year. They don’t quit.”
The Panthers got off to a slow start, missing their first 17 shots from the field before making a field goal with 5 minutes, 41 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
“Honestly, they looked like good shots,” Drew said. “They just rimmed out or bounced off the back iron. It’s not like they were short. They just didn’t fall. They were a little rushed early but we got settled and in a better rhythm.”
Mead senior guard Jazmine Redmon believed her team could win.
“If we had another chance I think we could compete even better with them,” Redmon said. “They’re a good team. I’ll give them that. We put it on the line and we gave it our all. The outcome we wanted didn’t come our way. I thought we could pull it out. This whole tournament has been like that. I thought it was going to go our way but it didn’t.”
Redmon fouled out with 3:11 left in OT.
“I’m so proud of my team right now,” Redmon said. “They competed and put it on the line when I fouled out. There was nothing else they could do. I wouldn’t change this team for nothing.”
Drew said the Panthers will realize in time how special the season turned out.
“It hurts right now but some of the things these kids have accomplished have been pretty magical,” Drew said. “They had a lot of people in (the Tacoma Dome) that were rooting for them for a reason that weren’t Mead fans. This will be painful, but when they have time to rest and look back on it they’ll have a lot of great memories and will understand what a great accomplishment it was. It was a great journey.”