TACOMA – Mead girls basketball coach Quantae Anderson talks about playing $1.00 games.
In other words, he expects as close to perfection from his players as possible.
The Panthers played like a buck on defense and did more than enough on offense to pull away from the Arlington Eagles 58-42 in the State 4A tournament championship game Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.
A game removed from their biggest test of the season, the No. 1-ranked Panthers (24-1) were never seriously threatened by Arlington (22-5).
Mead captured its first state title in 17 years.
“Defensively I thought we did a really good job the whole game,” said Anderson, who was sporting big, black-framed glasses he bought from Nordstrom’s for $10.
Anderson said he purposely wore the glasses to keep his team loose.
“We gave up more points than we wanted to give up but they had to work for all of their points,” Anderson said. “As long as they were contested shots and we were making them work I’m happy. It was a dollar game defensively and offensively we had highs and lows.”
Certainly one of the highs was the play of sophomore Sue Winger. Plagued by foul trouble in the semifinal game, Winger came out blazing, finishing with a team-high 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“I got into early foul trouble and that wasn’t helping my team,” Winger said. “I had to come out strong tonight. Our seniors do so much for this team on and off the court. I’m so happy to win this for them.”
Senior Mackenzie McPhee was a starter on the volleyball team that finished as state runner-up last fall. She couldn’t get rid of the smile on her face afterward.
“It’s amazing. I can’t describe it,” said McPhee, who will play basketball at Regis University. “It’s a fairytale ending, especially after our freshman year when we lost the state championship.”
Eastern Washington University-bound Jade Redmon was on that team in 2010. It was her drive to get back and win.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Redmon, who had nine points, five rebounds and six assists. “Losing my freshman year was heartbreaking. Words can’t describe how good it feels.”
Juniors Ashlyn Lewey and Delany Junkermier were their usual invaluable selves in the final. Lewey scored 14 points and Junkermier added nine and four steals.
“It’s an unreal feeling. I’ve never felt this way before,” Junkermier said. “All the girls, we all deserve it.”
It wasn’t the typical fast start the Panthers have become accustomed to in the past month.
Defensively, the Panthers were solid in the first half, influencing most of Arlington’s 12 turnovers. Mead scored 16 of its 29 points off turnovers.
Mead finally got untracked just before halftime, using a 9-1 surge for a 29-16 lead.
The Panthers took control in the second half. Just once did the lead get under double digits.
Junkermier said Redmon shared some thoughts before the game.
“She said ‘We’ve gotten this far, why stop now?’ ” Junkermier said.
Junkermier praised Arlington.
“They’re a very good team,” she said. “Everyone deserved to be here. I’m just so glad we can take this home.”
Redmon and Junkermier were named to the all-tournament team. Lewey was a second-team pick along with Gonzaga Prep sophomores Otiona Gildon and Laura Stockton.
Mount Rainier junior Brittany McPhee, who scored 34 points in the loss to the Panthers on Friday, was named the most valuable player.