MILL CREEK — The Stanwood girls basketball team is heading back to the Tacoma Dome.
Senior forward Kaitlin Larson scored 26 points as the 10th-seeded Spartans pulled away for an 80-60 win over Wesco rival and 15th-seeded Lynnwood in a loser-out Class 3A state regional game Saturday at Jackson High School.
The victory advanced Stanwood to the Hardwood Classic in the Tacoma Dome for the second consecutive season. The Spartans will face No. 7 seed Prairie in a loser-out first-round game Wednesday for a spot in the state quarterfinals.
“I’m really excited, because I feel like we’re more ready this year than we were last year,” Larson said.
Senior Jillian Heichel netted 20 points and junior Madison Chisman added 19 as the Spartans (17-6) finished with four scorers in double figures. Stanwood senior Ashley Alter, a Seattle Pacific University signee, chipped in 12 points despite sitting out much of the first half due to foul trouble.
It was the 10th time this season that the high-powered Spartans scored at least 70 points.
“If our outside shots aren’t falling, we can go inside — and then vice versa,” Larson said of her team’s array of scoring options. “I think it’s hard to guard when we can go inside and out.”
Sophomore guard Nakia Boston led Lynnwood with 23 points, while sophomore Amayah Kirkman added 18 and senior Rachel Walsh scored 14.
Kirkman and Walsh each hit four 3-pointers as the Royals (15-11) sank 11 shots from beyond the arc to keep the margin relatively close for most of the game.
Lynnwood led 27-23 early in the second quarter, but Stanwood pulled in front with a 12-2 run to close the half. Chisman scored seven points during the stretch as the Spartans took a 35-29 advantage into the break.
The Royals hung around and cut the margin to 57-49 early in the fourth quarter before Stanwood pulled away.
The Spartans reached the Tacoma Dome last season for the first time since 1998, but their stay wasn’t long. Stanwood went 0-2, losing to Lincoln in the state quarterfinals before falling to Lynnwood in a consolation game.
“I think we’re more focused than we were last year,” Larson said. “And we’re playing better as a team.”