Yelm down, not out of district tourney

Olympian staffFebruary 17, 2013 

Freshman Nia Alexander scored 23 points, fellow ninth-grader Quinessa Caylao-Do added 16, and the Todd Beamer girls basketball team knocked off 4A Narrows League champion Yelm, 63-49, in the 4A West Central District semifinals Saturday at Auburn High School.

The Titans (20-4) advances to Monday’s district championship game at the ShoWare Center in Kent, where they will face top-ranked Mount Rainier (23-1) in an all-South Puget Sound League final.

While Beamer heads to the title game, Yelm, which lost for the first time in 16 games, returns to Auburn on Monday to play Union (15-6) for the district’s No. 3 seed.

“We still have a lot of basketball left,” Yelm coach Russ Riches said. “It’s disappointing to lose, but I expect the girls will come ready to play on Monday.”

Beamer led 35-25 at halftime and 50-34 after three quarters, taking advantage of Yelm’s poor shooting.

“I could just tell early on we didn’t have our legs,” Riches said. “Last night’s (quarterfinal) victory over Federal Way took a lot out of us, plus four of our five starters are battling colds. We just didn’t have any energy.”

Anushka Maldonado paced the Tornados (19-4) with 17 points, while teammates Karli Shaw and McKaiela Tyler each added 12.

Tyler opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer and a layup off a steal to cut Yelm’s deficit to 50-39.

A 3-pointer from Beamer freshman Ta’Lea Culp pushed the lead back to double digits with 5 minutes to play.

The Tornados were unable to get any closer.

Last year at this time, half of the Beamer’s roster was in junior high.

Fast forward 12 months and the Titans, youth movement and all, are one win away from winning their first 4A West Central District championship.

“I can’t explain it,” said Titans coach Corey Alexander about his team’s postseason run despite having six freshmen on the roster. “They play much older than they are.”

Mount Rainier 53, Union 38: Junior Brittany McPhee scored 17 of her game-high 31 points in the second half to power the Rams, the defending district champions, to a semifinal victory over the Titans.

McPhee went 9-for-9 from the free-throw line in the first half, helping Mount Rainier (23-1) to a 25-15 lead at halftime and scored 10 points during a key 15-2 second-half run.

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