TACOMA – The Mead girls basketball team has taken it up a notch the last two weeks.
The upward mobility continued Thursday when the No. 1-ranked Panthers throttled the Skyline Spartans 53-33 in a State 4A tournament opener at the Tacoma Dome.
Mead (23-1) meets second-ranked Mount Rainer (26-1) in the semifinals tonight. Tipoff is at 9.
As well as Mead played, Gonzaga Prep probably couldn’t have played any worse – at least offensively. The Bullpups shot their worst percentage from the field all season, succumbing 43-40 to Arlington.
The loss puts Gonzaga Prep back into familiar territory – in an elimination game. The Bullpups (21-4), who had to win four straight loser-out games to advance here, take on Kentwood (19-8) this afternoon at 12:15.
Mead 53, Skyline 33: The Spartans scored the game’s first basket. But 16 straight points later and the Panthers were well on their way to the easy win.
They did it with a familiar style: run and share.
Junior Delany Junkermier noticed during warm-ups that the Panthers were missing many of their jump shots. So Mead decided the best way to cure a case of the misses was to shoot layups.
“(Pregame) we didn’t start out shooting well,” Junkermier said. “Our depth perception was off. We knew we needed to get to the hoop. The majority of our shots were inside the key and that helped us a lot.”
Mead smothered Skyline (21-6) in transition.
“We realized we were faster than they were and we just wanted to get up and down the court,” Mead coach Quantae Anderson said. “Our rebounding was key for us to be able to do that.”
Mead outrebounded Skyline 49-36.
Skyline interrupted Mead’s initial barrage with a free throw at the 1:56 mark, and the Panthers scored the final six points of the first period for a 22-3 lead.
The Panthers finished with 16 assists on 23 baskets with four players dishing out three each.
Junior Ashlyn Lewey led Mead with 14 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals. Redmon had 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
“We didn’t know exactly what their team had to offer so we wanted to come out and play our game,” Redmon said. “We did a good job getting stops on their big girls and it translated into offense.”
Arlington 43, Gonzaga Prep 40: The teams combined to seemingly put girls basketball back 30 years in the first half.
The Bullpups scored the game’s first five points, and it was nothing but an uphill struggle the rest of the game. Arlington (21-4) took a 15-11 lead into halftime.
Gonzaga Prep made just 19 percent of its shots (5 of 26) in the first half, a season low.
“We were getting wide-open jumpers for the most part,” G-Prep coach Mike Arte said. “We had no rhythm that whole game except for the last 2 minutes maybe.”
Still, after falling behind 33-22 with 7 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, G-Prep found a way to have a chance to win.
Sophomore Laura Stockton scored seven of the Bullpups’ final 11 points. A 3-pointer and two field goals by Stockton – who made 4 of 19 from the field – pulled G-Prep within 38-37 with 2:48 to play.
G-Prep had the ball and a chance to regain the lead, but the Bullpups committed a turnover with 2:24 remaining.
Arlington made the mistake hurt even more when Lindsay Brown made a 3-pointer to push the lead to 41-37 with 1:57 to go.
A 3-pointer from Hannah Caudill pulled the Bullpups within the final margin, and a 3-point attempt at the buzzer by Stockton was partially blocked.