By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
DES MOINES — If Saturday’s showdown between Lynnwood and Mount Rainier — two of the state’s top girls basketball teams — turns out to be a preview of this season’s 4A championship, the crowd at the Tacoma Dome in March will be in for quite a treat.
The Royals needed eight extra minutes, but eventually outlasted the Rams 57-54 in double overtime in the Muscle Milk Preview tournament at Highline Community College.
“(The win) was really important,” said Lynnwood point guard Jasmin Edwards, who finished with a game-high 19 points. “Obviously, last year our last game was a double-overtime thriller. To win this and pull through knowing that we can finish these tough games is really crucial and important.”
The Royals lost their previous double-overtime game, falling to Kentwood by a point in the state regional round this past February. Lynnwood went into that game having lost only once in the regular season and the defeat dashed the Royals’ state championship dream one game away from advancing to the Tacoma Dome.
Determined not to follow that road again, Lynnwood elected to play a tough nonconference schedule that coach Everett Edwards hopes will prepare his team for the difficult games they are almost certain to face in the postseason. The schedule included an earlier trip to Beaverton, Ore, for the Nike Northwest Invitational, where Lynnwood beat top-ranked, 6A Oregon powerhouse South Medford for the championship.
Now the Royals have a victory over one of Washington’s best teams. And they did it despite struggling with their shots and committing costly turnovers, but they never wilted under intense pressure at game’s end.
With the score tied at 52 in the second overtime, Jasmin’s younger sister, Jordyn, who had yet to score a field goal in the game, made what turned out to be the biggest shot of the night. Her 3-pointer with 2:37 to play in the second extra frame gave the Royals the lead for good.
“I didn’t have the best game, I guess that’s kind of clear, but the shot felt good and I’m glad it went in,” Jordyn Edwards said.
Mount Rainier’s Emily Fiso scored on the next possession to cut the Royals’ lead to 55-54. Still trailing by one with 35.2 seconds remaining, Mount Rainier earned possession of the ball after Jasmin Edwards missed a contested shot at the rim. The Rams turned to two-time defending state player of the year Brittany McPhee, but the star forward was called for traveling while trapped on the baseline with 17.2 seconds to play.
The Rams then were forced to foul. They sent Jasmin Edwards to the line, but she missed the front end of a 1-and-1 that kept the Rams’ hopes alive. Mount Rainier junior guard Aqeelah Williams took a 3-point point shot with the clock ticking down, but it was well short and grabbed out of the air by Lynnwood’s Mikayla Pivec. Pivec was promptly fouled and she added two free throws with just 0.4 seconds to play for the final margin of victory.
“To go through this crazy exciting finish where any team could have pulled it out in the end, to be able to come out with a win is just great for our overall psyche,” coach Edwards said.
That the game even made it to overtime was a bit of a surprise after the Royals dominated the first 31/2 quarters.
From the opening tip, the focal point of the Royals’ defensive efforts was Brittany McPhee. Lynnwood held her without a field goal in the first quarter and to just five points in the first half. She made just two of nine shots from the field.
“We definitely had special attention towards her,” Jasmin Edwards said. “We knew that she was their key player so we kind of sagged in on her and double teamed her when she got (the ball) and did the best we could because she’s an amazing player.”
McPhee was more effective in the second half, but still finished the game shooting just 7-for-25 from the field.
“It takes two to three people to really shut her down and we tried to challenge some of their other players to step up and hit shots,” coach Edwards said. In the second half, you could tell that they were trying to get the ball to Brittany and we were trying not to let Brittany get the ball. It’s a total team effort defensively … 7-for-25, wow. That’s a great team effort against a very good player.”
The Rams briefly took the lead in the third quarter, only to see the Royals close the quarter with a 9-3 run to take a 36-31 advantage in the final quarter.
McPhee and her twin sister, Jordan, took over for the Rams in the fourth. Trailing 42-40 with less than 30 seconds remaining, Jordan McPhee’s baseline 3 gave the Rams one of their few leads in the game. Lynnwood junior forward Monty Cooper answered at the other end with a 3-pointer, her only one of the game, with 13 seconds remaining.
Rams coach Bob Bolam called timeout with 4.5 seconds remaining to set up a play. The play appeared as though he told his team, “give the ball to Brittany and get out of the way.” Her shot in traffic as time expired rattled in to send the game to overtime.
“That’s why you’ve got to love sports and you’ve got to love basketball,” Edwards said. “You know that Brittany McPhee is going to be tough and even though you’re double and triple teaming her she’s still gets a shot off at the buzzer to send it in to overtime.”
Brittany McPhee finished the game with 18 points and 20 rebounds.
The Royals had a chance to close out the game again in the first overtime, leading 50-47 in the final minute, but the Rams answered again. After a missed 3 by McPhee, Fiso got a second chance and converted a 3 with 14.5 seconds remaining. The shot was originally ruled a two-pointer before the officials discussed it during a timeout with 6.6 seconds remaining. After the conference they changed their called to a 3 tying the score at 50.
When play resumed, Lynnwood’s Kelsey Rogers missed a contested jumper in the lane and Fiso secured the rebound to send the game to a second overtime where the Royals finally prevailed.
The longer the game lasted, the more stamina the Royals seemed to have. Coach Edwards credited strength and conditioning coach Becky Lewis with getting his team prepared.
“She just puts our girls through torture,” he said. “We take a lot of pride that we may not be the tallest team, but we’re going to outwork you and we’re going to outhustle you. Thank goodness we are in decent condition because it came through in a double overtime game like tonight.”
Despite shooting 21-for-68 from the field and 5-for-21 from the 3-point line, the Royals continued their impressive streak of victories to start the season.
“We did not shoot the ball well and we did have some bad turnovers,” coach Edwards said. “That’s a part of basketball. We’re very happy to not play our best game against a very good team and still get the win.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at email@example.com.
At Highline C.C.
Lynnwood—Jasmin Edwards 19, Monty Cooper 14, Grace Douglas 3, Mikayla Pivec 12, Kelsey Rogers 4, Jordyn Edwards 3, Amina Donahoe 2, Danielle Hayes 0. Mount Rainier—Jordan McPhee 10, Kaiti Freeberg 0, Brittany McPhee 18, Simone Johnson 0, Kenzi Gandy 0, Aqeelah Williams 11, Emily Fiso 15. 3-point goals—Jasmin Edwards 2, Douglas 1, Jordyn Edwards 1, Cooper 1, J. McPhee 2, Williams 3, Fiso 2. Records—Lynnwood 5-0, Mount Rainier 5-1.