SPOKANE — Trailing by as many as 16 points, the No. 7 Rainier girls basketball team was brought to the brink of elimination by No. 15 Upper Columbia Academy. Using a 20-6 run in the fourth quarter, and a heroic scoring effort from sophomore Bryn Beckman, the Mountaineers advanced past the 2B state round of 12 Wednesday evening at Spokane Arena, 54-50.
Beckman scored most of her game-high 24 points in the second half, hitting 6-of-7 3-pointers and hauling in a team-high eight rebounds to help save the Mountaineers from a season-ending defeat.
The win propels Rainier to a state quarterfinal matchup against Colfax Thursday at 5:30 p.m., and the double elimination rounds of the state tourney.
“I think that they were making it bigger than it was,” Rainier coach Brandon Eygabroad said. “It’s a state game, it’s a big atmosphere, they want to do their best and they’re putting that pressure on themselves. At halftime, we had to tell them, ‘basketball is just a game. Go play that game. Play it the right way and don’t force it.’”
Trailing 31-19 at the halftime break, Rainier turned a 33% shooting effort in the first half into a 59% effort in the second half. Angelica Askey also chipped in 13 points from the off-guard spot, and Janess Blackburn made the go-ahead bucket with 1:51 left on the clock to help give the Mountaineers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Blackburn finished with six points and three rebounds.
But it was Beckman’s leadership, and second half scoring outburst, that pushed the pace for the Mountaineers.
“She’s always ready for the big moment,” Eygabroad said. “She’s shown time after time that she’s ready for the big moment. I’m super proud of how she led us tonight. She refocused us, and rose to the occasion.”
Eygabroad also credited Acacia Murphy for stepping up on the defensive end, as Rainier held the Lions to just six points in the fourth quarter to close the gap.
UCA was led by 21 points from Mia Pierce, and 14 from Sidney Folkenberg.