Wilson High School won its first West Central District girls’ basketball championship in the craziest of ways – blowing out perennial powerhouse and top-ranked Prairie High School of Vancouver in the title game at the ShoWare Center on Monday.
The fourth-ranked Rams won, 60-45, in Kent, and will go to this weekend’s Class 3A regional tournament as the WCD’s top seed. They play Bonney Lake on Friday at Mount Tahoma High School.
Bethany Montgomery had a game-high 18 points and five assists for the Rams (20-2). Tia Briggs added 16, and Violet Morrow had 14 in what became a dismantling of the Falcons (21-3) in the fourth quarter.
After the Greater St. Helens League champions opened the quarter on Aislinn Konig’s short jumper to cut it to 46-38, Wilson scored the next 15 points over a four-minute span.
The outburst was fueled by two elements not always associated with Rams’ basketball – consistent suffocating defense and teammates sharing the basketball with one another.
In fact, the last of four consecutive Prairie turnovers during its 41/2-minute scoring drought led to a four-point Rams’ possession – and 61-38 Wilson cushion with 3:10 remaining.
“It was said we can’t beat the good teams,” Wilson coach Michelle Birge said. “We just proved it. We beat the best team in the state – we just didn’t defeat them, we destroyed them.”
A lot of raw emotion spilled out of the coach, who once was a standout basketball player across town at Foss High School. Relentless doubters had criticized the program’s effort against elite teams, she said. Some of them included her players’ parents.
“It is OK, because we hadn’t proven it,” Birge said. “Now we’ve proven it.”
The catalyst for all of it was Montgomery, the Eastern Washington University signee who was making the extra pass to the powerful Briggs inside, and also playing free safety on defense.
It was Prairie’s first loss this season to a school from Washington.