EVERETT — Eleven days ago, the Lake Stevens girls basketball team edged Eastlake in a bi-district tournament nailbiter.
This time, the Wolves got the upper hand.
In another low-scoring and grind-it-out affair between familiar foes, the fourth-seeded Vikings fell 54-44 to fifth-seeded Eastlake in a Class 4A non-elimination state regional game Saturday night at Everett Community College.
“We’ve had a pretty tight history with Eastlake, especially with this group of young ladies going back to when (they) were sophomores,” Lake Stevens coach Randy Edens said. “We always have really competitive, close games. Both teams really kind of know what each other is bringing to the table.”
This was the fourth matchup in the past two full-length seasons between these bi-district rivals — including a pair of overtime games during the 2019-20 season.
Their bi-district semifinal matchup earlier this month was a defensive struggle, with the Vikings prevailing 48-46 on a go-ahead jumper by Nisa Ellis in the final minute.
Saturday’s rematch took on a similar tone. With both teams sporting smothering defenses and shot-blocking interior defenders, there were few easy baskets for either side.
The Wolves (22-3) have held Lake Stevens to two of its four lowest point totals of the season.
“(They) extend pressure and slow you down a little bit,” Edens said. “You’re just not gonna be allowed to come up and get into your stuff.
“And then mixing it up. They scouted well some things that we like to do, and I thought at times we got in a little bit of a hurry (and) maybe took some quick shots.”
The Vikings (19-4) frustrated Eastlake for much of the first half, riding their defense to a 15-10 lead near the midway point of the second quarter. But the Wolves closed the half on a 13-4 run and took a 23-19 lead into the break.
Lake Stevens stayed within striking distance for most of a choppy and free-throw-filled second half, but Eastlake eventually pulled away for good.
The Wolves were led by sophomore Tatum Wood, who scored 19 points. Junior forward Ava Schmidt and sophomore guard Sophia Aluas added 10 points piece for Eastlake, which finished 24 of 30 from the foul line.
Senior guard Baylor Thomas led the Vikings with 13 points.
One major bright spot for Lake Stevens was the return of 6-foot-4 senior forward Camille Jentzsch, who had been sidelined with a foot injury for the past three and a half weeks. The Eastern Washington University signee scored five points and had a big impact on defense, blocking at least four shots in the first half.
“It’s a huge thing,” Edens said of Jentzsch’s return. “Her presence around the rim is massive. I know she’s gonna be a little disappointed — she probably thinks she probably should’ve scored at a little bit higher rate. But at the same time, those things on the offensive side are gonna come back, and we fully expect she’s gonna get back to her double-double self moving forward.”
With the victory, Eastake earned a first-round bye in next week’s Hardwood Classic. The Wolves will face either No. 6 seed Emerald Ridge or No. 14 seed Moses Lake in Thursday’s state quarterfinals.
Lake Stevens will face No. 13 seed Rogers-Puyallup in Wednesday’s first round, with the winner advancing to play No. 3 seed Pasco in the state quarterfinals.
“The biggest thing is we understood today was a path to get to where we want to go — win or lose,” Edens said. “Obviously we’d love to get into the quarters and be able to watch that first day. But we felt like if we got beat today, we really like the matchup on Wednesday for us.
“These are the kind of environments that you’re gonna face here the rest of the way,” he added. “They’re gonna be tight, tough and challenging circumstances. So to be able to live and learn a little bit is a good thing.”