YAKIMA — Throughout the course of this season, the Brewster girls basketball team’s players periodically got together for what they call ‘pedi parties.’ At those get-togethers, the players painted all of their fingernails red — except for the ring finger.
“We painted that one gold,” said junior wing Monica Landdeck. “We call it the ‘gold ball’ nail.”
The parties provided the players with an opportunity to bond. Their gold fingernails provided motivation. The Bears lost in the 2B state championship game last season, and they weren’t going to settle for anything less than bringing home a ‘gold ball’ — the 1A state championship trophy — this year.
Brewster completed a dominating Hardwood Classic run on Saturday with a 72-41 demolition of previously unbeaten Castle Rock at the Yakima Valley SunDome to win the title.
The Bears’ talents have been obvious all season long, but it was their willingness to focus on one game at a time, push their title game loss of a year ago out of their minds and not take anything for granted even though they were clearly the better team every time they stepped onto the floor that allowed them to achieve their ultimate goal.
Brewster always knew it was capable of winning it all, though. The players probably wouldn’t have painted their ring fingernails gold if they didn’t.
“We always set high expectations,” said junior point guard Chandler Smith, who was named as the tournament’s most valuable player after posting 26 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists against the Rockets. “We took it one game at a time, but for me, this was the expectation.
“(Winning the title is) even better than I thought it would be. It’s the greatest feeling to be able to share this with my teammates. I couldn’t ask to (play) for a better team.”
Roger Boesel was in Spokane last year to watch the Bears lose to Reardan in the 2B title game. After taking the team’s head coaching job before this season, he instituted a series of fundamental tweaks, but he knew what kind of potential the group had and how badly it wanted to atone for the Reardan loss.
“I just didn’t want to screw it up,” he said. “I knew how bad they felt last year. They worked so hard for this moment, and they’re dang happy. They’re such competitors. I’ve said all along that if we play the way that we’re capable of playing that everything will work out fine.”
Boesel won multiple state championships at Brewster in his own prep days, and was an assistant coach for the Bears girls teams that won state titles in 2000, 2001 and 2003.
But he considers his first title as a head coach to be the best of them all.
“The latest one is always the most special,” he said. “It was fun back in the day, playing with all those great players. But to have your kids do it, that ranks right up there.”
Brewster’s win keeps the 1A state title in the Caribou Trail League — and in the Boesel family. Last season, Roger’s younger brother Bryan guided Okanogan to a state championship.
The Bears dispatched perhaps their toughest challenger Thursday in a quarterfinal win over Lynden Christian. They crushed King’s 62-37 on Friday to advance to the final, and played perhaps their best game of the season against an overmatched Castle Rock team.
The Bears shot 63 percent in the first half on their way to taking a 47-19 halftime lead. They stretched their advantage to as many as 35 points in the second half. To put it simply, Brewster was able to do pretty much whatever it wanted.
Castle Rock beat Chelan in a semifinal game Friday and entered the contest with a winning pedigree; several of the Rockets’ players were on the school’s volleyball team that captured the 1A state championship in the fall.
But the Rockets couldn’t come close to matching up with a focused, determined Brewster squad.
“(Smith) gets most of the (publicity), but their other girls can play,” said Castle Rock head coach Don Misner. “They’re a fun team to watch as long as you’re not on the other side. As a basketball junky, though, I can’t help but to admire them. They are absolutely deserving of that trophy. They left no doubt.”
“We came out with confidence,” Landdeck said. “We were playing tough defense, finding the open man — it was our best first half of the season. (Winning a title) is everything I’ve ever dreamed of. My teammates are the best I could ever ask for. I love these girls. This feels amazing.”