By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
MARYSVILLE — The third time was the charm for the Lake Stevens girls basketball team on Friday night.
The Vikings shrugged off two earlier losses to Monroe this season and came away with a thrilling 49-48 victory over the Bearcats in a 4A District 1 winner’s-bracket semifinal at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.
The win guarantees Lake Stevens a spot in the upcoming 4A state tournament — it will be the program’s fourth visit to state in the past five years — and a chance to win a district championship. The Vikings face Western Conference North rival Marysville-Pilchuck at 8 p.m. next Saturday at Jackson High School.
“This is pretty special,” said Lake Stevens coach Randall Edens, whose team began the season losing four of its first five games, but has lost just once in the past 17. “They’re a great group of kids and they’ve worked hard. To start the year 1-4, and now this is 16 (wins) out of our last 17 to close (the season), it’s pretty sweet.”
Lake Stevens went on top in the game’s early seconds and led almost the entire game, though the Bearcats never fell behind by more than six points. The Vikings had two six-point margins in the fourth quarter, but Monroe rallied to nab its first and only lead of the game, 47-46, with just more than one minute remaining.
But Lake Stevens took the lead right back with a field goal and later added a free throw. Monroe also scored a free throw and then missed a potential game-winning field goal at the horn.
Despite losing twice to Monroe in the regular season, Edens said his team was confident going into Friday’s game.
“You can use all the cliches,” he said. “You know, it’s hard to beat a team three times. … But you know, when you’re in the playoffs anything can happen. All the regular season stuff goes away.”
The outcome was emotional for Edens, who choked up as he talked about the team’s remarkable late-season success.
“We missed (going to state) last year because we had a new group,” he said. “We graduated five seniors two years ago, so this group kind of went through the growing pains last year. They lived and learned a little bit, and I’m really proud of them.”
Monroe’s Suzanna Ohlsen led all scorers with 22 points. Lake Stevens had no scorers in double figures, but the balanced Vikings had two players with nine, two with eight, another with seven and another with six.
Monroe drops into the tournament’s loser’s bracket and plays Arlington at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.
At Marysville-Pilchuck H.S.
Lake Stevens — Peterson 9, Bostwick 9, Warbis 6, Burke 7, Schumacher 8, Molstre 2, Pahukoa 8. Monroe — Ohlsen 22, Alyssa Brazel 4, Alexander 7, Robertson 5, Clark 6, Wilkins 4. 3-point goals — Schumacher 2, Peterson 2, Bostwick 1, Robertson 1. Records — Lake Stevens is 17-5. Monroe is 17-5.