SPOKANE — Rainier was unable to keep up with a big and fast Lake Roosevelt squad as the Mountaineers were eliminated, 63-43, in their opening game of the 2B state tournament Wednesday at the Spokane Arena.
It was an emotional end for the Mountaineers, who felt like they were doubted all season. Rainier, which took the fifth and final regional bid out of District 4, survived four loser-out games to reach the state tournament.
Despite their season ending earlier than they had hoped, Mountaineers’ coach Brandon Eygabroad said he was proud of how his team battled with their backs against the wall this season.
“I would say it was a successful season,” Eygabroad said. “We sat down and talked about how we wanted to make it here and make a run. We made it here. We’re never satisfied.”
It was a rough start for the Mountaineers, who were plagued by turnovers and struggled hauling in rebounds against a much-taller Raiders’ team. The Mountaineers surrendered a slew of second-chance opportunities in the first quarter and trailed 15-6 after one quarter.
The Mountaineers recovered in the second quarter by taking care of the ball and boxing out a bit better, outscoring the Raiders 13-12 in the second quarter to trail 27-19 at the break.
The Raiders responded by reeling off a 22-13 run to open the second half, increasing their lead to 48-32 heading into the final frame. It was do-or-die time for the Mountaineers, who had eight minutes to trim a 16-point deficit.
Lake Roosevelt soon pushed its lead to 26 —its largest lead of the day — to hold a 61-35 lead with three minutes left in the game. It was all but over for the Mountaineers as the Raiders secured their victory and Rainier’s season came to a close.
Bryn Beckman led the offensive charge for the Mountaineers, netting a team-high 16 points and nine rebounds with three steals. Senior Faith Boesch and Isabella Holmes each added nine points, with all of Boesch’s coming from three 3-pointers.
Rainier was outrebounded 53-32 and gave up 30 offensive boards to the Raiders. The Mountaineers shot just 27% from the field — including 30% from deep (8 of 26) — while the Raiders whot 34% from the floor.
Playing in their final game for Rainier were seniors Boesch, Holmes and Selena Niemi.
Holmes, who has signed to play track and field for Central Washington University, was sad to see the season end and said she’ll remember the camaraderie of the team.
“A lot of people doubted us,” Holmes said. “We were family-oriented and we had a connection when we played together. We bonded.”
What Eybabroad said he’ll remember most about this team is their toughness, and they’re willingness to keep fighting, even with their backs against the wall.
“They work extremely hard and they all have great attitudes,” Eygabroad said. “They get along with each other and there’s no drama or anything. One of the more resilient groups of girls I’ve coached.
“This would have been our fifth loser-out game of the year. They refuse to be losers. They don’t get down, they just come back fighting every single time. And they’re not only going to be successful on the court. Bella has a track scholarship, Selena (Niemie) is going to Stanford and Faith is going into the Air Force Academy.”