TACOMA — A couple of months ago, looking ahead to his team’s January matchup with Central Valley, Lake Stevens girls basketball coach Randy Edens wasn’t sure his team would be able to be competitive against the Bears.
In fact, he considered trying to get out of the game completely.
“I thought it might be more than we could chew,” Edens said. “I thought we might have to change our opponent.”
But the Vikings proved his coach wrong with their stellar early-season play, and they went into their Saturday game against Central Valley in an Assist for Life Fight Cancer Basketball Classic game at Wilson High School with a positive mindset.
Lake Stevens knows that if it’s going to reach its goals this season, playing games against top-tier teams like the Bears will serve as a terrific litmus test.
“This is a great barometer for us,” Edens said after after his team’s 71-50 defeat. “We needed to play a game like this. You can see (teams like Central Valley) on film, but it’s different until you actually live through it. We still have a ways to go, and that’s why we do things like this.
“It’s good to live and learn. This shows us that we have things to work on, and hopefully we will be better as a result.”
Lake Stevens (11-2 overall) entered the game as the No. 8 team in the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Ratings Percentage Index 4A rankings, while Central Valley (13-0) was No. 3.
The Vikings are the third team in the current 4A RPI top 10 that the Bears have defeated by 17 points or more this season, having previously vanquished No. 5 Woodinville 67-50 and No. 7 Bellarmine Prep 67-31. Central Valley’s average margin of victory entering Saturday’s contest was 37.7 points per game.
The Bears are led by twin sisters Lexi Hull and Lacie Hall, both committed to continue their basketball careers at Stanford. Lexie Hull scored a game-high 25 points Saturday.
Kylee Griffen scored 18 points and Raigan Reed scored 15 for the Vikings, who fell behind 25-4 after the first quarter.
Reed, a sophomore guard, has been a key player for Lake Stevens this season, alleviating pressure from Griffen.
“Her biggest challenge early on was that she was too much of a facilitator, and we still want her to do that, but at the same time we want her to carry some of the (scoring) load, too,” Edens said. “She understands she’s got the green light when necessary. She’s gotten better.”
Lake Stevens’ only loss before Saturday came to Seattle Prep, ranked sixth in the 3A RPI.
“We’ve done a better job (defensively) than expected,” Edens said. “We’ve played with great energy. This year has been much different. We’ve been prepared and we’ve played hard, and if we make mistakes, we’re able to adjust.”