By David Pan/Lynnwood Today editor
Lynnwood’s suffocating full-court pressure defense often wears down opponents late in the game.
But against a tough Snohomish team that was beating the press, the Royals took a step back and shifted to a more deliberate zone defense.
The change paid off as Lynnwood limited the Panthers to only one 3-pointer and a free throw in the fourth quarter and went on to claim a 64-46 victory in a Wesco 4A girls basketball game Wednesday at Lynnwood High School.
“It’s great to get a win against a very good team,” Lynnwood coach Everett Edwards said. “They are going to be a very dangerous team come tournament time. We went into the game knowing it was likely going to be a tough game. We got what we thought we’d get.”
Snohomish trailed by single digits for much of the second quarter but Lynnwood (9-0 in the league, 14-1 overall) scored a pair of baskets to boost the lead to 36-26 at halftime. The Royals increased their lead to 13 points early in the third quarter before the Panthers battled back to cut the deficit to 49-42 as the teams headed for the fourth quarter.
“They were beating our man press so we switched to playing a zone,” said Lynnwood sophomore Mikayla Pivec. “If we play zone, we try to defend the middle more. They have a few strong posts, so we tried to keep the ball out of their hands.”
Snohomish center Madeline Smith, who scored 15 points in the first three quarters of play, made only one free throw in the fourth quarter.
The zone defense was a strategic move designed to limit the touches to Smith.
“We were challenging their shooters to make outside shots,” Edwards added.
Pivec scored a game-high 19 points and was a force on the boards in the second half. The Lynnwood standout had two putback baskets in the third quarter and scored seven points in the fourth quarter. During one sequence in the fourth quarter, Pivec rebounded her own missed free throw and scored.
“Mikayla is very tenacious on the boards,” Edwards said. “She is in great condition, so as we get later in the game, it seems like she gets more energy. She was very aggressive on the rebounds and when you get a 50/50 ball where it’s uncertain who is going to get it, she tends to come up with it more times than not.”
With three players 6-feet or taller, Snohomish (6-4, 8-8) had the height advantage against Lynnwood, which has only one 6-footer (freshman Kelsey Rogers) but it didn’t matter.
“We just fight hard for the ball and keep going after the ball,” Pivec said. “We usually try to get all five players in the key and work together to get the rebound and we our quickness to combat their height.”
Edwards said that his players’ effort often is the difference on the boards.
“We might be outsized by height but we make up for that with heart,” he said.
Lynnwood’ Monty Cooper scored 16 points and Jordyn Edwards and Rogers each added 10 points. Snohomish’s Bailey Armbruster scored 10 points.
With Wednesday’s victory over Snohomish and last Friday’s win over Arlington, Lynnwood has beaten the top two Wesco 4A North teams. Six games remain in the regular season before the district tournament.
“We just try to improve each day,” Pivec said. “If we keep improving then we’ll be ready for the end of the year, the postseason.”