Julie Spencer and Nike McClure admitted the self-doubt would occasionally creep in.
Maybe the Mark Morris High School girls basketball team had W.F. West’s number. Perhaps the Bearcats, who had dropped five straight in the series, including last year’s Class 2A state title game, were incapable of beating the Monarchs.
“It was always there in the back of your mind,” Spencer said, “but they can’t push us around anymore.”
Spencer scored 16 points Friday, and McClure contributed 15 to lead W.F. West to a 53-47 victory over Mark Morris for the District IV championship.
“You never want to have that one team that always beats you,” Spencer said. “This was a long time coming.”
The Monarchs (21-2) drubbed the Bearcats (21-2) during the regular season, winning, 60-45, on Dec. 5.
Mark Morris knocked off W.F. West in last season’s state title game, 56-44 in overtime, and in the 2012 and 2013 district championship games.
The Bearcats exhibited a short memory by opening the contest on an 18-0 run.
A basket by Tiana Parker capped the run with 21/2 minutes left in the first quarter.
“We’ve had that kind of start before against inferior teams, but never against a team the caliber of Mark Morris,” W.F. West coach Henri Weeks said. “The girls stayed pretty level. We knew Mark Morris was capable of shooting its way back into the game.”
The Monarchs did just that, making five 3-pointers in the first half, the final and most impressive coming on Ashley Coons’ near-halfcourt heave at the buzzer that cut the Bearcats’ lead to 28-24.
What looked like a rout in the first quarter turned into a close contest as the Monarchs pulled within two points early in the third.
“We were nervous coming out,” Spencer said about the second half. “Everyone was tired. We knew if we were going to win this, we had to make stops.”
Behind Parker, McClure and Spencer, W.F. West dominated the glass. The Bearcats tallied numerous putbacks on the offensive end while limiting Mark Morris to one shot per possession.
“That was key,” Weeks said. “I don’t know how many offensive rebounds we had, but that was the difference down the stretch.”
The loss snapped the Monarchs’ 12-game winning streak. Mark Morris’ only other loss this season was a 48-32 defeat to Class 4A squad Skyview on Jan. 8.
W.F. West will be the No. 1 seed in next week’s regional round of the state tournament. The Monarchs will be a No. 2 seed.
The roles were reversed last season, and another showdown could be on the horizon.
“I think we will see them again,” Spencer said.
BOYS FINAL: MARK MORRIS 62, HOCKINSON 50
Hayden Tapani scored 17 points, Grant Gibb chipped in 14 and the Monarchs claimed their first 2A District IV championship since 2008 by defeating the Hawks in the all-Greater St. Helens League final.
Mark Morris (18-5) had finished second in the district tournament the previous two seasons, falling both times to River Ridge in the finals. The Monarchs were runner-ups four of the last five years.
The Monarchs put the game away with a late 12-2 run, capped by a Gibb 3-pointer that gave Mark Morris a 58-45 lead with 21/2 minutes to play.
Jack Klodt paced Hockinson with 12 points.