Wednesday, in a rare New Year's Day game, the Royals were beat at their own game.
Cleveland, the defending 3A state champion and a favorite to repeat this season, established its own physical brand of full-court pressure defense and handed Lynnwood its first loss of the season, 59-49.
"Offensively we struggled and I think it had a lot to do with their athleticism and their ability to block shots," Lynnwood head coach Everett Edwards said. "That's something we haven't had to deal with a whole lot of. They're athletic and they're a good team. It's just something that we're going to have to learn from and deal with."
Lynnwood has played a very difficult nonleague schedule to begin the season, but none of the teams have given the Royals more trouble than the Eagles, who jumped out to a 3-0 advantage early in the first quarter. Lynnwood responded with a 14-2 run and seemingly took control of the game.
Cleveland had other ideas.
The Eagles closed the first quarter by scoring the final six points and they scored the first nine of the second quarter to regain control of the lead. The Eagles' 15-0 run gave them a 20-14 advantage. By the end of the second quarter, the Eagles led 27-17 after scoring 22 of the final 27 points in the first half.
"We had been playing a lot of teams that had been taller than us," Edwards said. "This is a team that's fairly quick. They do a lot of things on the defensive end of the court as well as the offensive end of the court."
Edwards said he wasn't surprised by the Eagles game plan, but preparing for it and experiencing it are two different things.
"We were ready for it in terms of the game plan and preparation, but it's a whole different thing when you get out on the court. We're used to being the quicker team. When we had the opportunity to play this game that's the first thing I knew is that we would be able to face something that we haven't seen, honestly, in a couple of years because we are typically the quicker team by far."
The Eagles kept up the pace in the second half. Their 14-4 run to start the third quarter helped extend the lead to 19, which would prove to be the largest of the game.
The Royals made a run in the fourth quarter getting to within eight on three separate occasions, but the deficit was too large to overcome.
"This is a game that just builds character and is going to help us in the quest to win the Wesco South," Edwards said. "That's the most important thing for us. This, if anything, was just a glorified practice or a scrimmage."
Not only did the Eagles put full-court pressure on the Royals, but they also swarmed to the ball in the halfcourt. Several times Lynnwood players caught the ball in what looked to be a position to score only to be quickly closed out by the Cleveland defense and in several cases have their shot blocked.
"They play similar to us," Edwards said. "In the long run we are going to come across another quick team that we can draw upon this experience to hopefully help us to make better adjustments to get the win."
Despite the loss, Edwards was happy after the game because Cleveland proved to be the type of opponent he wanted his team to see.
"For our team, this was the type of game I was looking for," Edwards said. "We're never going to run away from games like this. This is just like a game you would see in (state) regionals or in the Tacoma Dome (at the state tournament). I think it helps build character when you face adversity and we faced a lot of adversity."
Makayla Roper led the Eagles with 17 points, Myzhanique Ladd had 16 and Joyce Harrell added nine for the Eagles.
Kelsey Rogers scored 12 to lead the Royals and Grace Douglas chipped in 11 including three 3s for the Royals.
Lynnwood returns to league play tonight against Cascade.
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at email@example.com.
At Cleveland H.S.
Lynnwood 14 3 11 21 -- 49
Cleveland 11 16 19 13 -- 59
Lynnwood--Jasmin Edwards 4, Monty Cooper 9, Grace Douglas 11, Mikayla Pivec 6, Kelsey Rogers 12, Jordyn Edwards 5, Amina Donahoe 0, Danielle Hayes 2. Cleveland--Myzhanique Ladd 16, Jayde Christopher 8, Alexia Mefi 4, Asiyah Davis 2, Makayla Roper 17, Joyce Harrell 9, Myla Hightower 3. 3-point goals--Douglas 3, Jor. Edwards 1, Roper 3, Hightower 1. Records--Lynnwood 6-1. Cleveland 4-1.
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