Lynnwood girls basketball team poised for run at state 4A title

Lynnwood freshman Mikayla Pivec takes the ball down court against Edmonds-Woodway Jan. 23. (Photo by Karl Swenson, Just a Whim Photography)
Lynnwood freshman Mikayla Pivec brings the ball down court against Edmonds-Woodway Jan. 23. (Photo by Karl Swenson, Just a Whim Photography)

By Mike Allende

It wasn’t so much its dominance in the Edmonds School District Tournament over the summer. It wasn’t the string of early-season one-sided wins. For Lynnwood High School girls basketball coach Everett Edwards, it wasn’t until an eight-point win over Arlington on Jan. 16 that he felt his team might be in for a special season.

“After beating Arlington at home, I felt that we were in a good position to compete to win the Wesco South, which was our first team goal accomplishment of the season,” said Edwards, who in six seasons has turned the Royals into a serious state-title contender.
At 21-1, including 14-1 in the conference, Lynnwood has more than exceeded expectations in its first season at Class 4A after moving up from Class 3A. That victory over Arlington was one of just two all season that the Royals won by fewer than 10 points. The only loss was by four points to Monroe on Jan. 2, and Lynnwood has won by an average of 28.3 points.

Now, Lynnwood meets Arlington once again, this time for the Northwest 4A District title at 8 p.m. Saturday at Mountlake Terrace High School. The Royals have already qualified for the state regionals after beating Monroe and Lake Stevens by a combined 29 points in the first two games of the playoffs.

For a team that went 16-51 from 2006-2009, the turnaround has been remarkable. As the school’s feeder programs – in particular Alderwood Middle School – began to develop talented players, the Royals saw the benefit. In 2009-10, Lynnwood went 14-14. The next season it was 20-5 and reached the state tournament. Last season, the Royals went 19-5, missing state by one game despite playing most of the season without star Mokun Fajemisin, who went down with a knee injury.

Fajemisin’s absence was a bit of a blessing, though, as it allowed Lynnwood to figure out how to compete without the 5-11 powerhouse now playing at UC Irvine.

The Royals gave a preview of what they could do in running through the Edmonds summer tourney and King’s Summer Tournament, handling solid teams like Lake Stevens, Arlington, Snohomish, Seattle Prep and Skyline.

“I thought we’d have a good season after we won those tournaments,” Edwards said. “We played very well in the summer and if we stayed healthy, I felt we would be competitive.”

The roll continued into the regular season when Lynnwood won its first seven games by more than 20 points each. And the Royals did it – and have continued to do it – behind a stifling defense that has allowed just 33 points a game.

“Our overall team speed is difficult for most teams to match up with,” Edwards said. “Also, our girls might not be the tallest but they are a very tough-minded group and they like to compete.”

Lynnwood has a solid mix of veteran players and talented freshmen and sophomores. Seniors Linda Wilson and Arsenia Ivanov are four-year varsity letter winners and senior Izzy Maza is a three-year letter winner. Guard Jasmin Edwards leads the team in scoring at 11.8 points and was a second-team all-league pick as a sophomore, and classmate Grace Douglas averages 9.2 points. The Royals also have four freshmen on the roster, led by a pair of 5-9 forwards, Jordyn Edwards and Mikayla Pivec, each averaging 10.5 points.

“We have a good balance of younger players and upper-class players,” said Edwards, who also happens to be Jasmin and Jordy’s father.

For all the accomplishments Lynnwood has achieved, the coach knows this team isn’t infallible.

“We need to improve in our half-court offensive sets and cutting down on turnovers,” Edwards said.

For now, though, Lynnwood seems well poised to make a deep run at the state tournament in the Tacoma Dome.

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