MILL CREEK — The Lake Stevens girls basketball team clinched its berth to the Class 4A state regional round on Thursday, mostly thanks to a late-game defensive adjustment.
Lake Stevens eschewed its zone defense from the first three quarters in favor of a suffocating man-to-man structure, and it worked almost to perfection.
Lake Stevens put the clamps on Inglemoor in the fourth quarter, allowing just five points in the final eight minutes en route to a 57-45 win in a loser-out game of the Wes-King Bi-District Tournament at Jackson High School.
“We had to adjust and we asked them, ‘Can you dig down for eight minutes?,’” Lake Stevens head coach Randy Edens said. “‘Can you dig in and defend in the half-court?’ Like I said, it makes all the work we put in from last February to now all but worth it.”
With the game tied 40-40 entering the fourth, a basket from Chloe Pattison and a 3-pointer from Baylor Thomas at the top of the key spotted the Vikings a five-point lead.
“That three was massive, no question,” Edens said. “She’s got that capability and that’s a mature thing. She showed that maturity making that shot.”
The atmosphere on the Vikings bench was palpable when Thomas’ shot swished.
“That was a really big turning point,” Lake Stevens senior Raigan Reed said. “Because we weren’t really shooting it that well to that point. At that point of the game, it was huge. That really helped us.”
Emma Lund scored inside for the Vikings, but Abby Haller drilled a 3-pointer to stop the bleeding for Inglemoor and cut the lead to 47-43.
That’s when Reed, the Vikings star guard and Boise State signee, took over.
Reed ripped off back-to-back buckets, the first a floater on the baseline and the second a finish through the lane, to put the Vikings up 51-43 with 1:45 remaining.
“It’s what you hope seniors do,” Edens said.
With the win, Lake Stevens advanced to the state regional round for the second time in three seasons. The Vikings will vie for their first appearance at the 4A Hardwood Classic at the Tacoma Dome since 2017-18.
Lake Stevens also avenged a 66-55 regular-season loss to Inglemoor, as if the moment couldn’t be any sweeter.
Lake Stevens (18-5), the No. 2 seed out of Wesco 4A, will play Issaquah (18-8), the No. 4 seed from KingCo, in a third-place game Saturday at Everett Community College.
Lake Stevens stormed out to an early 11-4 lead, but Inglemoor never let the game get out of hand and eventually trimmed the lead to just two points at halftime after ripping off a 11-2 run going into the intermission.
Inglemoor carried that momentum into the second half by eventually taking a 40-36 lead, but the Vikings knotted it up to end the third quarter after Reed hit a pair of free throws and scored a basket.
“We knew that we didn’t want our season to end tonight,” Reed said. “We told ourselves, ‘Don’t let them make the run.’ We wanted to make the run and stop them from shooting on the perimeter and we did that.”
Reed finished with 20 points and Thomas chipped in 10 to lead the Vikings.
Inglemoor’s Haller led all scorers with 22.
“That fourth quarter was fantastic,” Edens said. “We didn’t really want to play them man, but we had to with how they shot it in the first half. It’s really special. I’m so proud of them.”