Going into their 3A state 4th/6th place game on Saturday, the Lynnwood Royals had already played three contests in three days at the Hardwood Classic, two of which were decided in the game’s final possession.
Saturday’s match-up against the Kamiakin Braves at the Tacoma Dome not only had an 8 a.m. tip-off, but needed an extra four minutes of overtime to settle. All that court time over four days may have been just a little too much for the Royals to battle through.
On Saturday, Kamiakin’s Chanceler Williams was able to grab a rebound off a miss by teammate Oumou Toure and sink an easy lay-in at the final buzzer of overtime to give the Braves a 66-64 victory over Lynnwood to claim the WIAA 3A Girls State Basketball Tournament 4th place trophy.
The Royals, though disappointed with the loss, accepted the 6th place state award to cap off a 2016-2017 season that saw the team finish with a mark of 22-6, a regular season 3A Wesco League title and a District 1 tournament championship.
“We’re very proud of them,” said Lynnwood Coach Brent Hudson. “Whatever the final was today, we’re proud of them, of all their effort and working together. They’re a great group of girls regardless of their basketball abilities. They’re just great kids.”
Following the loss to Kamiakin, the team spent nearly 45 minutes in the locker room laughing, crying and sharing with each other what the season meant to them. Hudson noted how the team over-achieved the expectations of many observers.
“We just talked a lot about how most people thought we weren’t even going to get out of our District’s (tournament), so the fact that we’re even here on Saturday playing at the Dome is pretty special,” he said.
Saturday’s game may have been the Royals’ biggest challenge of the week after the physical toll of taking on three other opponents in three previous days, and the emotional drain of a one-point loss to Bishop Blanchet on Thursday followed by a buzzer-beater victory over Stanwood on Friday.
Lynnwood showed plenty of fatigue early on against Kamiakin on Saturday, committing five turnovers and going only one-for-five from the field during the game’s first four minutes. The Braves took advantage and were able to jump out to a 10-2 start and led 23-8 at the 6:41 mark of the second quarter.
But the Royals seemed to grow stronger as the game progressed. Down 40-35 in the first minute of the fourth quarter, Lynnwood ended a 15-2 run with a Reilly Walsh free throw to take a 50-42 lead with 1:24 to go.
The effort, led primarily by the team’s top four senior starters Walsh, Kelsey Rogers, Kaprice Boston and Taylor Fahey, seemed to take its toll as the Royals began to fade.
“We were just going to run our horses as long as they could go,” Hudson said. “It was kind of their year and so we wanted to let them go out … and let them be able to be out on the court in the end and fight hard.”
But it was the Braves that won the final 1:24 of regulation time, outscoring the Royals 11-3 – capped off with a Toure lay-in with 16.1 seconds to go – to knot the score at 53-53 and send the game to overtime.
The overtime period was a back-and-forth affair with seven of the game’s eight lead changes. Rogers led the Lynnwood offensive attack, scoring nine of the team’s 11 points, but the Braves were able to take back the lead twice with a pair of three-point jumpers by Rylie Clark; Kamiakin’s Kiley Larsen also converted a three-point shot attempt with 22.2 seconds to go to tie the game at 64-64.
“We hit three pretty big three’s there down the stretch that might of, well, not might of – did they help,” said Kamiakin Coach Lane Schumacher.
Following Larsen’s three, the Royals had a chance to take back the lead themselves, but never got out of their own back court. Toure stole an in-bounds pass for the Braves, but had her subsequent shot attempt blocked by Boston. After a timeout, Kamiakin regrouped for their final possession which ended with a Toure miss but Williams’ rebound and game-winning put-back at the final horn.
“Kamiakin just played tough at the end and they hit the shots they needed to hit,” Hudson stated.
Schumacher, though pleased that his Braves’ squad came through in the end for the victory, sympathized with the Lynnwood squad after the tough loss. “You hate to see someone lose at 8 a.m. for 4th place in a battle like that in overtime,” he said. “But hats off to them.”
Rogers led the Royals in scoring with 29 points, shooting 9-for-21 from the field and 11-for-13 from the free throw line. The senior also grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked six shots for Lynnwood.
Boston scored 20 points for the Royals in the loss.
Kamiakin was led by the 27 points, eight rebounds and five steals of Toure.
The sixth place trophy brought home by Lynnwood is their fourth piece of hardware from the Hardwood Classic in four years and their sixth in school history. The Royals finished first in 2015, third in 2014 and 2016, sixth in 1994 and eighth in 1992.
For Hudson, in just his first year at the helm of the Royals, this year’s finish will be a memorable one.
“In a lot of ways this was my ‘freshman’ season,” he said. “I’ve coached a little bit before but never to this degree with this level of pressure. It was a good year (with) a great group of kids. The memories will be good.”
To view the entire WIAA 3A Girls State Basketball Tournament bracket, click http://www.wiaa.com/Brackets/T1284.pdf.
Prep Girls Basketball: Lynnwood vs. Kamiakin, Mar. 4 (WIAA 3A Girls State Basketball Tournament 4th/6th place game)
Lynnwood 8 10 17 18 11 — 64
Kamiakin 18 10 11 14 13 — 66
Lynnwood individual scoring: Kelsey Rogers 29, Kaprice Boston 20, Reilly Walsh 7, Nakia Boston 6, Valerie Bell 2, Taylor Fahey, Maddie Morgan, Rachel Walsh, Kia Crawford, Amayah Kirkman
Kamiakin individual scoring: Oumou Toure 27, Alexa Hazel 9. Rylie Clark 8, Kiley Larsen 6, Symone Brown 6, Jayden Williams 6, Chanceler Williams 4, Kylie Scherbarth, Kendyl Holle
Records: Lynnwood 22-6 overall; Kamiakin 25-2 overall
Lynnwood next game: 2016-2017 season completed
–By Doug Petrowski