Lynnwood Royals coach Brandon Newby floated into the locker room where his girls basketball team was gathered. “What the heck did we just do?” screamed Newby. The answer to the rhetorical question was the Royals had just beaten Edmonds-Woodway 69-59 and along with it, punched their ticket to the state regional playoffs next weekend.
Saturday’s District 1 third-place game at Jackson High was the rubber match for the two Edmonds School District teams. The Warriors won a regular season match-up and the Royals avenged that loss last week, taking the opening game of the double-elimination tournament.
In Saturday’s game, trailing 47-36 entering the fourth quarter, the Warriors’ Maddie McMahon hit a 3-pointer to start what would be a 13-2 Warrior run. McMahon and fellow sophomore point guard AJ Martineau would account for the first 10 points, and Adrienne Poling dropped a 3 with 4:21 left in the game and E-W had tied the game at 49.
“We knew they’d make their run, because they did the last time we played them, so I braced the players for it,” said Newby.
Following a Royals timeout, Lynnwood scored eight straight, with six coming from Nakia Boston and two from Amayah Kirkman. “I banked my timeouts and I called a good one and we were able to push back,” said Newby. Warriors coach Jon Rasmussen also called that a key moment,” We tied it up and we needed one more stop and we just didn’t get it and it took the wind out of our sails,” he said.
Down by nine with a minute left, the Warriors were forced to foul. The Royals were up to the task, converting 10 of 12 in the last minute, leading to the final margin. “I knew if this got to a free throw contest we would win because we shot 75 percent this year,” said Newby.
The first quarter started slowly for E-W, with the Warriors missing first seven shots, going on to make only two of their first 14. The Royals, on the other hand, scored the first nine points, with five coming from Kirkman, and a pair of baskets from Rachel Walsh and Boston. A 3-pointer from McMahon and a free throw by Ingrid Forsberg got E-W on the board, but Boston scored eight straight for Lynnwood, part of her game-high 28 points. “She’s streaky. When I recognized that they had nobody to stop her, I started running some sets for her,” Newby said of Boston.
“After our second loss, everyone stopped coming to our games and the papers were saying we’re the worst team in the league,” said Boston, referring to the Royals’ slow start this season. “That’s when we decided to stop listening and just play our game knowing we had the players to beat anyone.”
The Warriors’ shooting woes continued in the second period, making only three shots as the Royals extended their lead to 13 — 31-18 — going into intermission. Bryant paced the Royals with 12 first-half points, with Brooke Kearney leading E-W with six. The Warriors struggled mightily from the field in the first-half, making only five of 27 attempts.
“We live and die on the 3 and in the first half we didn’t make many,” said Rasmussen.
“They’re a qreat 3-point shooting team,” said Newby. “Tonight they weren’t falling, which was good for us.”
The Warriors hung tough in the third quarter, trimming the lead to five at one point before Lynnwood scored the last seven, giving them an 11-point margin heading into the fourth. E-W’s points were evenly distributed among their five starters, while Walsh and Boston paced Lynnwood with six and five, respectively.
The Royals, under first-year coach Newby, are headed to a yet-to-be-determined state regional playoff game next weekend. A win there and it’s on to the Tacoma Dome — a place that become a common destination of the Royals teams in the past, yet one that seemed like a long shot when the season began.
”No one expected us to do anything,” Newby said. “We’ve been counted out since before the season started.”
Added Boston,“We have the skills to beat anyone, it’s just a matter of believing.”
The Warriors, meanwhile can look forward to next year’s campaign knowing that there are no seniors on this year’s 20-win team. In fact, only five of the 12 players on the roster are even juniors. “What a great season — we won 20 games and lost four. We’re graduating nobody,” said Rasmussen.
Ed-Woodway (20-4): 7 11 18 23 –59
Lynnwood (15-10): 16 15 16 22 –69
Warrior Scoring: Martineau 13, Dickenson 5, Fosberg 6, Kearney 6, McMahon 13, Poling 13
Royals Scoring: Walsh 11. Boston 28, Douglas 3, Kirkman 14, Ashe 6, Dasalla-Good 7
— By Jeff Smarr