TACOMA — After losing six winner-to-state games over the previous three seasons, the Lake Stevens girls basketball team finally broke through this year to reach the Hardwood Classic.
But the No. 7-seeded Vikings’ stay in Tacoma was short-lived.
Lake Stevens’ success-filled season ended with a 57-42 loss to 10th-seeded Kentlake in a Class 4A state tournament game Wednesday at the Tacoma Dome.
“It’s certainly going to hurt these (girls) for a little while,” Vikings coach Randy Edens said. “But in time, they’ll look back and be able to reflect on … the special nature that our season had.”
Kentlake held Lake Stevens (19-5) to a season-low point total, frustrating the Vikings with a 2-3 zone defense that packed the interior and clogged passing lanes. Lake Stevens shot just 13-for-51 (25.5 percent) from the field, including 2-of-13 from beyond the 3-point line.
It was a contrast from the Vikings’ 57-46 non-league win over Kentlake on Dec. 29, when Lake Stevens hit six 3-pointers.
“We prepared for that,” Edens said of Kentlake’s zone. “That’s something we’ve dealt with before — that’s what they do. We feel like we’ve got shooters to shoot it. … (But) if you don’t shoot it well, anybody can get you.”
The Vikings got off to a slow start, falling into an early 14-5 hole they never recovered from.
Kentlake freshman Jena Stannard came off the bench and hit four 3-pointers during a four-minute span in the second quarter, giving the Falcons a 32-17 halftime lead. Stannard, who finished with 12 points, didn’t score in the teams’ regular-season meeting and entered Wednesday averaging 2.5 points per game.
“Those are big baskets that we certainly didn’t anticipate,” Edens said.
Lake Stevens trimmed the deficit to 10 points in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, but Kentlake (20-7) pulled away and stretched the margin to 20 in the game’s closing minutes. The Falcons face top-seeded and nationally ranked Central Valley (24-0) in Thursday’s state quarterfinals.
Kentlake was led by Aolani Talamaivao-Calderon, who had 21 points and eight rebounds. The senior post entered as a 24-percent free-throw shooter, but hit 6 of 7 free throws.
Playing in her first Hardwood Classic, 6-foot-2 Lake Stevens senior Kylee Griffen recorded 20 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. She sprained her left ankle during practice Feb. 27 and sat out Saturday’s state regional loss to Eastlake.
“She rolled it really badly (and) didn’t play Saturday because she couldn’t,” Edens said. “She had a really good couple of days, but you could tell — I mean, (her) free throws (were) a little flat. And we asked a lot of minutes of her today.”
The Vikings claimed the Wesco 4A crown and won the Northwest District tournament this season to reach the Hardwood Classic for the first time since 2013.
“They’ve been a tremendous group,” Edens said of his senior class. “I’m really proud of them to be able to finally get here.
“It’s going to sting today, certainly. But in time, it’s going to be pretty special for them.”