By David Pan/Lynnwood Today editor
Lynnwood seniors Grace Douglas and Jasmin Edwards have a little unfinished business.
Douglas and Edwards have been to regional playoffs the last three years but have come up short of advancing to the state tournament in the Tacoma Dome. Lynnwood co-captains want to take that next step.
“It’s definitely a motivation for me and Jas,” Douglas said. “Last year was especially a heartbreaker. It’s kind of a redemption thing. We really want to finish what we started. We’ve gotten to regionals and haven’t had it go our way. We’re all motivated to get there.”
The Royals were upset 61-60 by Kentwood in the regional playoffs last year. Lynnwood went undefeated in league play and was 22-1 overall heading into regionals.
“As seniors we want to finish strongly,” said Edwards, whose father Everett is the head coach. “We want to continue that legacy of how we’ve been building a program.”
Lynnwood already is most observers’ preseason pick not only to win the Wesco 4A South Division but also is regarded as a legitimate state title contender.
It’s easy to see why.
The Royals’ offseason success could be an indication of what’s to come.
Lynnwood won the Edmonds School District tournament for the second year in a row, took first place in the Washington Preps League in the summer and took second place in the Oregon City tournament, which featured many of the top schools from the West Coast. Lynnwood lost to Gonzaga Prep in a close title game.
“The expectations definitely motive us,” Jasmin Edwards said. “We want to be able to prove that we can do it, that we’re capable. I know we are.”
This year’s team is a little bit younger in terms of age but not necessarily in experience. The Royals have only one other senior on the roster (Hannah Valvala) but return plenty of key players including sophomores Jordyn Edwards (Jasmin’s younger sister) and Mikayla Pivec. Junior Danielle Hayes is entering her third year on varsity and junior Monty Cooper played for Archbishop Murphy the last two years.
“We’re still kind of a young team,” coach Edwards said. “We actually are pretty well battle-tested. We’re young but we still have a little bit of experience.”
Six-foot center Kelsey Rogers, the lone freshman on the squad, gives the Royals some height in the middle.
The offseason has been especially important in helping Rogers get acclimated to varsity play and her teammates.
“We really worked on our team chemistry and team unity in getting ready for the season,” coach Edwards said. “To have a freshman, Kelsey Rogers, come in and play with our older juniors and seniors and playing at a high level, helps with the overall team chemistry. I think it’s helped in terms of the girls just bonding with each other.”
Last year, many of Lynnwood’s games were one-sided and did little to prepare the Royals for the postseason when games got tighter. Aside from the one loss to Monroe, the lowest margin of victory for Lynnwood was 12 points.
As a result, coach Edwards made a conscious effort to schedule as many tough non-league opponents as he could this season.
The goal is to have Lynnwood experience adversity early in the season.
“It’ll help us with our goals of competing in the league and trying to win our league as well,” coach Edwards said. “We’re trying to find the most competitive games we can.”
Coach Edwards has some mixed feelings about the upcoming season, which will be the final time he’ll be coaching his daughter Jasmin. He’ll have two more years with Jordyn after this year.
“I’ve been coaching them since they’ve been little kids,” coach Edwards said. “I feel very blessed and fortunate I’ve had the chance to spend that amount of time with them. It’s been great. It’s Jas’ last year. It’s bittersweet to know this is her last year.
“We’re just trying to maximize the short time that we have to play basketball this winter.”