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State 3A girls: 'Relentless' Mead defense wears out Bonney Lake; Panthers advance to semifinals

Feb. 29—Mead has been here before. Each of the past two years the Panthers have reached the State 3A semifinals, but no further, coming home with a third and fifth-place finish.

Maybe third time will be the charm?

The Greater Spokane League champion and No. 1 seed to the tournament played like it on Thursday, applying pressure defense all game and generating a whopping 27 turnovers in the process. The Panthers' 3-point shooting sustained them in the first half; its relentless defense did the job in the second.

Sophomore Addison Wells Morrison scored 26 points, GSL MVP senior Teryn Gardner had 25 points with seven rebounds, six assists and three steals and the top-seeded Panthers overwhelmed seventh-seeded Bonney Lake 72-44 in a State 3A quarterfinal at Tacoma Dome on Thursday.

Mead faces third-seeded Snohomish in a semifinal Friday at 7:15 p.m.

Jazmyn Shipp and Evin Elias led Boney Lake with 15 points apiece.

Mead (25-1) scored 32 points off turnovers, 23 in the second half as Bonney Lake found no respite from the relentless, end-to-end pressure.

"We just knew that the third quarter is really important," Mead coach Quantae Anderson said. "And our defense is the catalyst. That's our biggest difference. Being able to play good defense is gonna translate to offense, whether it's in transition points, or it just gets everyone going in our half court sets."

Morrison, the team's only 6-footer, had to deal with three of 6-foot-plus on Bonney Lake.

"It definitely was more of a challenge than prior teams we played, but I think we handled it pretty well," she said. " It was definitely different. And we kind of struggled a little bit at the beginning, but then I think we found our groove."

"We're short, but we're fast and we're quick," Gardner said. "When we face size, it's gonna be a challenge to shut them down, but we know that on missed shots we can just run them and on defense, we can just make them tired and just keep up that pressure all the time."

Having been here before helps, too.

"We have a couple of girls on this team that haven't been to the Dome yet," Gardner said, "but for the most part every single player has played in this and has experienced this Dome and it's just it helps us a lot. It's a big advantage for sure."

Wells Morrison hit twice from beyond the arc, Gardner popped a 3-pointer just before the horn and Mead led 17-13 after one.

Mead went up by seven early in the second, but Shipp went inside for six points while Morrison was out, and Bonney Lake (20-5) got it back to three with 1:45 to go in the half.

Gardner hit from way downtown, then hit from 40 feet at the buzzer and Mead led 32-25 at the break. Gardner had 15 points in the half, with three 3-pointers; Morrison added 11 with three 3s.

"We don't want to depend on (the 3)," Anderson said. "But it's a great thing when it comes. So, we'll take it whenever we get it. And I think we have three of the best shooters in the state."

Three steals to start the second half turned into a 7-0 run, Mead went up 39-25 and Bonney Lake asked for timeout. Gardner had 10 points in the period, Morrison had 10 — including a four-point play at the buzzer — and Mead led 57-35 after three.

"We're always relentless," Gardner said. "We're always putting everything we have in every single possession, on offense and on defense, and it's just awesome to be part of a team like that."

"We watched the film, their game yesterday," Anderson said. "We saw that there were some things that they were doing when they're against some presses that we could take advantage of and once we did that, they I think they were shell shocked."

The fourth quarter brought much of the same and Anderson took out Gardner and Morrison with 2:10 left in the game.

Morrison finished one point off her season high.

"That's the thing about our team — we are super selfless," Anderson said. "And we know when someone has a hot hand, we're gonna feed them the ball."