Lynnwood players cheer during a state playoff game against West Seattle at Arlington High School on Saturday. Lynnwood won 47-45. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Lynnwood players cheer during a state playoff game against West Seattle at Arlington High School on Saturday. Lynnwood won 47-45. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Lynnwood girls edge West Seattle, book trip to Tacoma Dome

The Royals start slow and hang on late, but win 47-45 to reach the 3A Hardwood Classic for the first time since 2017.

ARLINGTON — Despite a late scare and a rusty opening quarter, the Lynnwood girls basketball team handled its business and the Royals punched their ticket to the Tacoma Dome for the first time since 2017.

In a Class 3A loser-out state regional game, 11th-seeded Lynnwood closed out a 47-45 win over No. 14 seed West Seattle at Arlington High School on Saturday and junior standout Kayla Lorenz was instrumental in keeping the Royals above water.

The 6-foot-1 Lorenz dropped 13 of her 25 points in the second quarter and added seven rebounds as Lynnwood (17-6) climbed out of a 16-7 hole in the first frame. Fellow junior Aniya Hooker did most of her damage in the second half, providing 11 of her 16 points after the break, chipping in six boards.

“This was huge,” Lynnwood coach Eddie McFerrin said. “We’ve been talking about it all week, taking it one game at a time and preserving our energy and going out and competing. Today was one of those ones where we had to compete in every moment of the game and finish at the end.”

With the win, Lynnwood will face No. 6 Stanwood at 9 a.m. on Wednesday at the Tacoma Dome in a loser-out, round-of-12 game.

The Royals (17-6) capitalized at the free-throw line, converting 12-of-16 attempts while the Wildcats (16-10) didn’t do themselves any favors at the stripe, going just 5-for-18.

Lynnwood faced some adversity in the opening period as junior Carmen Cruz (24 points, two steals, six 3-pointers) pumped in four of her treys in the first eight minutes to give West Seattle a 16-7 cushion after one.

In the second, the Royals clamped down defensively and ran things through Lorenz on the other end. She went 4-for-4 at the line in the quarter and sank a wing triple that boosted Lynnwood ahead 22-18 with 2:50 remaining, completing a 15-2 run as it went into the break up 24-22.

“I just knew what I had to do and my teammates knew what I had to do,” Lorenz said. “These last few games we’ve been down by ten (points), seven, five. … We just know how to work our way up now, and I’m really proud of how we came back in this game.”

The Royals went on to extend the lead in the third without giving up much ground. Cruz hit a 3 to re-tie the game at 27 with 4:55 left for the Wildcats. Lynnwood responded with an 8-0 run, with Lorenz and junior Mataya Canda each hitting crucial 3-pointers as the Royals took a 35-27 lead with 1:43 before the fourth.

The Wildcats didn’t give up the battle in the final period, even after it seemed like Lynnwood was in position to coast the rest of the way.

Lorenz sank a pair of free throws with 5:23 left in the contest to give her team a 43-34 advantage, and Hooker brought the Royals back ahead by double digits with a left-handed layup to provide a 46-36 lead with 2:50 to go.

West Seattle scored the next nine points as Cruz sank a deep 3 to cut the lead down to one with 50 seconds remaining.

Hooker was unable to score on the next possession as the Wildcats gained control of the ball with a chance to retake the lead. After junior Nyree Johnson (six boards) corralled a defensive rebound, Hooker went back to the line with 2.4 seconds left following a loose ball foul.

She missed the first and made the second, triggering a West Seattle timeout. The Wildcats couldn’t get off a full-court heave as time expired.

With a 68-66 overtime win over Meadowdale on Feb. 10 in the district tournament, followed by a 70-60 victory in double overtime against Everett on Feb. 16, which gave the Royals a bye in the first round of regionals, Lorenz expressed that those moments have helped the Royals prepare for what’s ahead.

“We have been together for so long that we kinda know how to work with each other,” Lorenz said. “I feel like now that we’ve had to go through these last couple games together, we can get enough energy to go make a statement at the dome.”

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