Archbishop Murphy freshman Ashley Fletcher is introduced as a starter before a matchup against Arlington on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, at Archbishop Murphy High School in Everett , Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Archbishop Murphy girls fall to Lynden in 2A district title game

The Wildcats struggle with the Lions’ zone defense in the second half and lose 66-45.

MOUNT VERNON — The second-seeded Archbishop Murphy girls basketball team couldn’t get the victory over top-seeded Lynden in the winner-to-state Class 2A District 1 title game, falling 66-45 on Wednesday night at Mount Vernon High School.

The defeat snapped the Wildcats’ six-game winning streak and placed Archbishop Murphy (18-5) in the must-win consolation game against either fourth-seeded Sehome or third-seeded Burlington-Edison for the last state berth 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Mount Vernon. The Wildcats topped Burlington-Edison 66-59 in the district semifinals.

Wildcats sophomore guard Brooke Blachly led the team with 21 points, and junior guard Taylor Cushing (nine) and freshman guard Ashley Fletcher (eight) combined for 17.

Lynden freshman guard Finley Parcher scored the first bucket of the game and the first 13 points for the Lions en route to a game-high 25 points.

Archbishop Murphy went toe-to-toe with Lynden in the first half, leading 18-17 after the first quarter and trailing 33-32 at halftime. Blachly drilled four 3-pointers and had 19 points at the end of the half, and Parcher paced the Lions with 17.

“We came into the game as the underdog, and we knew that,” Blachly said. “We knew how to get each other open in the first half (and) what to do with face guarding because that’s something we’ve seen all year, especially with me and Ava (Marr).”

The buckets quit falling in the second half for the Wildcats after the Lions switched to a 2-3 zone defense that gave them fits. Lynden limited Archbishop Murphy to just 13 points in the third and fourth quarters combined, which is less than what the Wildcats achieved in the second quarter alone.

“We just weren’t ready, and they were,” Archbishop Murphy coach Ebany Herd said. “It seemed like (Lynden) wanted it a little bit more than us tonight.”

The Lions allowed just five made field goals in the second half and held Archbishop Murphy scoreless for a five-minute stretch of the fourth quarter. They also held Blachly to just two points after her big first half.

“We didn’t do the best job of setting (Blachly) up for success,” Herd said. “We didn’t move the ball. … We kind of got really stagnant … and they took advantage of it.”

Lynden’s offense kept up its pace in the second half and sophomore guard Payton Mills proved to be difficult to guard in the paint. She ended the night with 16 points, including 13 over the final two quarters.

The Wildcats have one more game that decides the future of their season, and it’s all in their hands.

“I think they understand now the importance of playing for four quarters. You can’t just do two and get it done,” Herd said. “This could be our last go around, and we kind of felt this thing last season. We were in a winner-to-state, loser-out game and ended up losing by two, and I don’t think they want that feeling again. I think they’re ready to go after this loss. It’s a good reset for us.”

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