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Originally published Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 6:15 PM

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McPhee leads Mount Rainier to third place | 4A Girls

Brittany McPhee's 25 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks helped the Rams beat Lake Stevens 56-39 in a matchup of teams that lost semifinal heartbreakers Friday night.

Special to The Seattle Times

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TACOMA — No doubt it feels better to go out a winner. Still, it didn't remove the sting of disappointment one night earlier.

Brittany McPhee, a 6-foot junior, scored 19 of her 25 points after halftime as top-ranked Mount Rainier beat ninth-ranked Lake Stevens 56-39 on Saturday for third place in the Class 4A state girls basketball tournament at the Tacoma Dome.

The Rams from Des Moines lost 51-50 to Mead in the semifinals Friday night.

"We were down about last night, and that was natural," Mount Rainier coach Bob Bolam said. "Lake Stevens faced the same kind of disappointment ...

"I thought we had good legs under us today. It's a pride thing. It's what do you want to see yourself as. You don't want to mail it in."

McPhee helped the Rams (27-2) wipe out the empty feeling of two years of close, disappointing state semifinal losses. Mount Rainier equaled last year's school-best third place finish.

"I always believe in my team. I tried to pump them up and get them ready," McPhee said. "Ending on a loss would not be fun. Winning felt a lot better."

McPhee also had 18 rebounds, five blocks, four assists and three steals.

"Brittany's a great player," Bolam said. "She's a coach's dream. She's the best player we've ever had and I've been at Mount Rainier 27 years coaching basketball."

It didn't appear that Lake Stevens (20-9) couldn't shake off Friday's 66-64 overtime semifinal loss to WesCo 4A North rival Arlington.

"It's always hard to come off a loss like we had last night," said Vikings senior Brittney Pahukoa, who scored nine points. "Knowing it would be my last game ever playing high-school ball, that was my motivation."

Brooke Pahukoa, who will play at Boise State with her twin sister Brittney, led the Vikings with 13 points.

"Energy-wise, I thought the first minute or so it was tough to get going, but we were hurt ourselves by missing some easy opportunities," Lake Stevens coach Randall Edens said. "That's just a matter of (being) Day 3 and you expended a lot of energy and you're a little wiped out. That mental focus wasn't there like it needed it to be. If we'd made a few easy shots early, it might've helped."

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