By David Krueger Herald Writer
TACOMA — The longer the game went on, the more thankful the Lynnwood Royals were that they drew the early game.
Lynnwood opened the 4A girls portion of the Hardwood Classic on Thursday, playing in the unpopular 9 a.m. time slot. But the Royals showed no signs of nerves or drowsiness, rolling past Kentwood 71-44 in a Class 4A state quarterfinal game at the Tacoma Dome.
“I think we were too tired to be nervous,” Lynnwood senior guard Grace Douglas said. “It abruptly woke us up. It worked to our advantage having a 9 a.m. game, I think, just because the place wasn’t completely packed yet.”
Kentwood held a slim lead early, but a 14-0 run helped Lynnwood build a 19-9 advantage by the end of the first quarter. The Royals didn’t trail the rest of the way as Lynnwood secured its first victory at state since 1994.
“For us to be able to get the 9 o’clock in the morning draw, what a great time to play basketball, right?” Lynnwood coach Everett Edwards said with a laugh. “No more complaints. Now we get to enjoy the rest of the day and we get to watch our next opponent and get some good scout film and we’re just really excited. We get to just hang out together as a team … and have a good time.”
Despite the early tipoff, Edwards said he had a hunch his team was going to play well.
“I had a good feeling we would play well versus Bellarmine Prep (in last week’s regionals), I had a good feeling about today and right now we’re just hitting on all cylinders,” he said. “So, whether it’s the Tacoma Dome or whether it’s a parking lot somewhere playing street ball, it really doesn’t matter. I think our girls are really seizing the moment right now.”
Sophomore wing Mikayla Pivec led Lynnwood, the No. 1-ranked team in the most recent Associated Press state poll, with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Douglas made four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points, and freshman post Kelsey Rogers added 14 points for the Royals (24-1).
Rogers scored 10 of her 14 points in the first half as Lynnwood built a 40-14 halftime lead, its largest of the game.
“For a freshman, coming through in this environment, I’m very happy for her,” Edwards said of Rogers. “She’s a very coachable kid and a very good kid and I’m excited to see her play, not only for the rest of this tournament, but for the next three years.”
The Royals, who play Gonzaga Prep at 3:45 p.m. Friday, collected nine steals and forced 16 turnovers in the first half. Kentwood finished the game with 22 turnovers.
Douglas, meanwhile, dispelled the notion that it’s difficult to shoot in the cavernous Tacoma Dome.
“Grace has been a great shooter for four years of playing high school basketball,” Edwards said, “and, again, it’s been said that you can’t shoot the ball well in the Tacoma Dome and I think for her, she kind of proved that wrong in that she shot the ball very, very well.”
Douglas said the Dome took some getting used to, but once the game started, it was business as usual.
“In warmups it was a little weird because the lights are kind of in your eyes and it kind of throws you off a little bit,” she said. “But just the flow of the game and great passes from your teammates, you’re not really thinking about the lights. You’re thinking about shooting the bucket.”
Sarah Toeaina had 14 points and seven rebounds for Kentwood (21-8), which defeated Lynnwood in the regional round of the state tournament last season.
The Royals had not forgotten.
“It did feel good,” Douglas said of beating the Conquerors. “A lot of us on the bench toward the end of the game we were just talking about how we’d love to have … our seniors from last year be there with us and experience it. We remember the heartbreak so well and it was a big motivator for us.”
Next up for Lynnwood is No. 2-ranked Gonzaga Prep, which defeated Skyview 53-45 Thursday.
Edwards said Lynnwood played Gonzaga Prep in a tournament in Oregon City last summer. The Royals built a 12-point lead in that contest, but wound up losing.
At Tacoma Dome
Kentwood 9 5 18 12 — 44
Lynnwood 19 21 16 15 — 71
Kentwood—Zaria Jones 0, Kate Kramer 8, Sarah Toeaina 14, Kelsey Fast 0, Ashley Rolsma 6, Christy Nguyen 0, Kendall Goodwin 0, Samantha LaRue 0, Haylie Price 0, Jenny Johnson 8, Ashleigh Key 0, Alycea DeLong 8. Lynnwood—Madison Ever 0, Jasmin Edwards 6, Monty Cooper 9, Grace Douglas 14, Mikayla Pivec 19, Sarah Grant 0, Kelsey Rogers 14, Chelsea Tuiasasopo-Campbell 4, Hannah Valavala 0, Jordyn Edwards 5, Amina Donahoe 0, Dani Hayes 0. 3-point goals—Douglas 4, Kramer 2, Rolsma 2, Toeaina. Records—Lynnwood 24-1. Kentwood 21-8.