LYNNWOOD — It took a little while, but once the Archbishop Thomas Murphy’s girls basketball team shook off a little rust, a first-round Tri-district victory over Overlake and a berth to the state tournament never was in doubt.
Lisa Coate scored 19 points and her older sister Lauren had 18 to lead the Wildcats to a 67-32 victory over the Owls Feb. 20 at Lynnwood High School.
The victory ensured Archbishop Murphy’s third straight trip to the Class 1A state tournament. The Wildcats had nearly a two-week layoff between the end of the regular season and the start of Tri-districts.
Both teams appeared a little tentative in the opening minutes of the first quarter. The Wildcats trailed 8-6 after Overlake’s Amanda MacKenzie nailed a shot at 4:04 mark of the quarter.
But then the Coate sisters started to assert themselves.
Lauren Coate scored five straight points and Lisa Coate later added six, as Archbishop Murphy went on a 14-0 run, during which the team scored on seven of its eight trips down the court.
“Our team got whoever was open the ball and it seemed to pay off,” Lauren Coate said. “We scored almost every time.”
The Wildcats expanded their 22-8 first quarter lead with a 17-1 run to start the second quarter. Overlake didn’t score its first field goal until the 3:29 mark.
“We just knew who their key players were,” Lauren Coate said. “I don’t think they had that many outside shots, so our guards did really well guarding their guards and everyone did an all-around good job.”
For the most part Archbishop Murphy coach Bill Kelley liked what he saw from his team, especially from Lauren Coate, who he said made some key baskets in the first half.
“We were hoping that we’d get off to a good start like that and really put the outcome out of the way, out of doubt, which we did,” Kelley said. “But then I thought we really hit some lulls. I don’t think we rebounded as a team as well as we can, so we have some things to work on. Overall, I’m very proud of them.”
One of the lulls took place in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Archbishop Murphy led 41-12 at halftime but the Owls opened with an 8-2 run and cut the lead from 28 points to 22 midway through the third quarter.
But the Wildcats outscored Overlake 11-2 the rest of the quarter and Kelley emptied the bench in the fourth quarter.
Overlake appeared to focus on Lauren Coate, which opened things up for Lisa.
“I don’t know if you can key on one more than the other,” Kelley said. “Lisa is just amazing for a freshman. She does so many things for us.”
Not only is the younger Coate a strong inside presence but she also runs the court well.
“It’s really difficult for the opposing centers if they have any size to be able to get up and down the court with her,” Kelley said. “She’s as fast as anybody on our team.”
Since late December, Lisa Coate has been averaging in double figures.
“She’s been improving all year,” Kelley said.
Senior point guard Trisha Terhar and sophomore guard Kat Taylor also has strong games against Overlake.
“Trisha makes the whole thing go and Kat defensively is our leader,” Kelley said.
Archbishop Murphy followed its first round Tri-district triumph with a 49-28 semifinals victory over Cedar Park Christian Feb. 22 at Mountlake Terrace High School.
Lauren Coate scored 15 points, while Lisa had 14.
“I thought we had a sluggish offensive effort in the first half,” Kelley said. “We missed several rather easy shots, perhaps because it was so physical. However, our defense was outstanding throughout.”
The victory was significant because it secured a No. 1 seed to the state tournament.
“The first round matchup, no guarantees, is likely to be better, so that’s really important,” Kelley said.
Archbishop Murphy (21-1) will face No. 1-ranked King’s (21-2) at 8 p.m. tonight (Friday, Feb. 28) in the Tri-district championship game. The Knights also have secured a state berth.
“Some keys for us will be to break their press,” Kelley said. “Offensively, we need to be aggressive and take the game to them.”
MILESTONES: Senior center Lauren Coate scored her 1,500th career point early in the opening quarter of Archbishop Murphy’s first round Tri-district game against Overlake. Coate came into the game with 1,496 points and scored her fourth point of the night at the 3:47 mark of the first quarter.
“We had actually overlooked two games her freshman year,” said Archbishop Murphy coach Bill Kelley. “We knew she was going to hit it tonight. That’s exciting. That’s a lot of points. It takes a lot of dedication and toughness.
“She’s played every game for us, even when she’s had sprains or anything .. she’s played every game and delivered every game.”
Archbishop Murphy has won 20 straight games, breaking the school record of 19. The Wildcats’ 21 overall victories tied the school mark.