David Pratt doesn’t need to see the video of the last shot from Saturday’s Class 3A girls state championship basketball game. He may never need to see the video ever again.
It’s burned into his memory.
Trailing 37-35, Pratt’s Mt. Spokane Wildcats had the ball with a chance to win the state title in the closing seconds against Prairie on Saturday night. They got the open 3-point shot they wanted by the player they wanted to do the shooting. But the ball caromed off the rim and with it the dream of a state championship.
“We all struggled with it,” Pratt said. “Taking second is hard. It shouldn’t be because if you look at the whole season, at the whole body of work that we put in this year, we had a fantastic season. But we were that close to winning it all.
“There were a lot of tears after that game, I’ll be honest. But I think kids are more resilient with these things than coaches and adults are.”
Pratt readily admits he hasn’t moved on from that last game and said he likely won’t any time soon.
“We just did not shoot the ball well in that game,” he said. “We shot the lights out the night before. We shot 53 percent from the 3-point line in the semifinal. If we came back to reality and shot our normal 40 percent, we’d have won that game by 15 points or more.”
Instead, the Wildcats were 4 of 27 from behind the arc. The two teams combined made just four field goals in the fourth quarter.
And still, the game came down to one last shot.
“There is no better shooter that I have ever coached than Aspyn Adams,” the Mt. Spokane coach said. “There is no other player that I would want taking that last shot than her. She catches the pass in rhythm. She shoots it in rhythm.
“The shot missed by millimeters. It nicks the top of the iron on the way down and kicks up. If she misses the front iron that ball hits nothing but net.”
It was that kind of a day for three Eastern Washington girls basketball teams in the final game of their respective seasons.
Lewis and Clark shot its way into the Class 4A girls championship game, but that hot touch left them, and they fell to Eastlake, 53-47.
And East Valley rallied in the fourth quarter and pushed Washougal into overtime before falling 49-40 in the Class 2A girls title game.
It was a magical season of girls basketball in the Greater Spokane area. The magic simply ended a little short of the finish for all three.
“Boy, we represented our area and our league well over (in Tacoma),” Pratt said. “We had teams in all four finals (Class 3A and 4A). We can be proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
At East Valley, Rob Collins is in a similar situation after his Knights came home with a second-place trophy.
“It’s harder on the coach, for sure,” he said. “This group of seniors has had a great run. We finished third when they were freshmen and we came back last year and finished third. When you finish third you have that tough loss on Friday night, but you get to finish your season on a winning note. That’s easier than finishing second and ending your season with a tough loss.”
Like Mt. Spokane, East Valley’s championship game with Washougal was a defensive battle.
“We did not have that great of a game until right at the end,” Collins said. “We called timeout at the end of regulation when we were down by three points and the girls just looked at me and said ‘We’ve got this, coach. No problem.’ ”
Sure enough, they did. Faith Adams took the ball on an inbound pass, dribbled to the top of the key and drained a 3-pointer to tie the score at 35-35 to force overtime.
In the extra period Washougal’s Fresno State-bound Beyonce Bea scored 12 points, and East Valley could not keep pace.
Both coaches said their players were able to work through the disappointment of losing fairly quickly.
“We sat down together, sort of in a circle, and we talked about the highlights of the season together,” Pratt said. “Everyone said what their favorite moment of the season was. And then they talked about the funniest memory of the season. They kind of roasted me a little and talked about some of the coachisms that come out of my mouth that I never realized.
“It was fun. For them, I think the most disappointing part of it all was that it was the end of our time together as a team. By the time we got back on the bus to come home they were more interested in sleeping.”
Collins said his players got together one last time at their hotel and had one last team game night.
“They were sad that they lost, but at the same time they were very proud of what they’d accomplished,” he said. “They finished higher than any team ever has in this program. That’s something you should be very proud of.”
Pratt said his disappointment comes down to a simple fact.
“This group has done so much,” he said. “I just wanted to be able to send them off with a championship.”