It was hardly easy the rest of the way, but that first-quarter margin turned out to be the difference in a hard-fought clash between two Western Conference 4A contenders. The Vikings never went away, but neither could they ever erase that early deficit as Lynnwood held on for a 59-48 victory.
The Royals were hot from the start and eventually built a 20-6 lead in the game's first seven minutes, aided by four 3-point goals. That 14-point margin matched their largest of the game, and it left Lake Stevens playing catch-up the rest of the night.
"We kind of played on our heels for a stretch there (in the first quarter)," said Vikings coach Randall Edens. "And against a good team, if you get down like that it's just an uphill battle the whole way."
It was an uphill battle Lake Stevens could not quite pull off. The Vikings crept back and trailed by three points four times in the second quarter, but could never draw closer. Lynnwood led by eight at halftime and again after three periods, and then eased out to another 14-point margin midway through the fourth quarter that essentially put the game away.
With the victory, the Royals improved their season record to 12-1. Lynnwood spread its scoring between eight players, with Jasmin Edwards, a speedy junior guard, leading the way with 17 points. Junior guard Grace Douglas added nine points, all on 3-point goals.
"We just kind of held on tonight," said Lynnwood coach Everett Edwards. "We couldn't quite break away from them, but we played good enough defense and we had a good enough effort overall as a team to get the win. And it's a good win for us.
"I thought we played with great effort and we shot the ball fairly well from the perimeter, which helped us out a little bit," he added. "Lake Stevens plays very good defense where they take away a lot of dribble penetration and where we were kind of forced to take outside shots. And tonight we were able to make a couple of shots."
The Royals won their first 10 games this season, but then suffered a 40-36 road loss at Monroe on Jan. 2. That outcome, Everett Edwards said, "was a big learning experience for us."
Despite the team's impressive record -- Lynnwood is 7-1 in Wesco play and is tied for first with Jackson in the South Division -- "we still have a long way to go to get ready for the district tournament," he said.
Lake Stevens was without senior guard Brooke Pahukoa, one of the league's top players. Pahukoa, who has committed to play at Boise State University next season, suffered a dislocated finger on her shooting hand in a Dec. 29 game at a Spokane holiday tournament. The injury has been slow to heal, in part because of a tiny bone chip, and is expected to keep her out another two weeks.
The Vikings obviously feel her absence.
"It's been a challenge being short-handed," Edens said. "She averages 20 points (a game) and does so much for us defensively to change what (opponents) do and certainly what we do as a team."
Still, since other Lake Stevens players have had to pick up the slack, "that's probably going to help us down the road when she comes back," Edens said. "We'll be even better."
At Lynnwood H.S.
Lake Stevens 10 18 11 9 -- 48
Lynnwood 20 16 11 12 -- 59
Lake Stevens--Alex Briggs 5, Mallory Gipson 0, Chelsea Pahls 6, Ivy Blackmon 5, Kacie Reichert 3, Cassidy Fifield 0, Brittney Pahukoa 8, Emily Vandegrift 4, Kali Long 17. Lynnwood--Jasmin Edwards 17, Izzy Maza 8, Grace Douglas 9, Mikayla Pivec 7, Arsenia Ivanov 6, Jordyn Edwards 5, Danielle Hayes 2, Linda Wilson 5. 3-point goals--Briggs 1, Blackmon 1, Reichert 1, Jasmin Edwards 1, Maza 2, Douglas 3, Ivanov 2, Jordyn Edwards 1. Records--Lake Stevens 4-4 league, 8-6 overall. Lynnwood 7-1, 12-1.
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