Prep girls basketball: Kirkman scores 27 as Royals edge Bothell 49-48

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After scoring 34 points on Tuesday to lead the Lynnwood Royals to a victory in their opening game of the season, Amayah Kirkman went on another big scoring spree for the Royals on Thursday. As it turned out, the team would need every one of the junior’s 27 points against Bothell.

Kirkman converted six of 10 fourth-quarter free throw attempts — sinking four in the final 16.9 seconds of the game — as Lynnwood squeaked by the Cougars 49-48 in a non-conference tilt played at Bothell High School.

The Royals led 41-26 after three quarters, then held on to earn their second victory in two games this season.

Kirkman’s final two points came on a pair of free throws with 4.3 seconds left, giving Lynnwood a needed 49-45 lead as Bothell’s Devon Lipkin made a long three-pointer at the final buzzer.

In the heated final seconds of the game, Kirkman said she tuned out all the noise and trusted her ability honed from repeatedly practicing her shot from the charity line.

“We shoot so many free throws in practice, so I just envisioned that,” Kirkman said. “I mean, I shoot free throws all the time. I just think, ‘OK, this is in.’ I just focus – it’s the focus factor.”

Kirkman made seven of 12 free throws in the game, helping her reach her game-high 27 points, 16 of which came in the first half. The point guard is deliberate in trying to create scoring opportunities for herself early in games, she said.

“I think the main thing for me is that I just know we need to get a lead, so I focus on what I can do,” Kirkman stated. “And then things start opening up for my teammates; I know if I can get it to them then they can get that shot up.”

Kirkman’s offensive prowess was necessary for the Royals Thursday as five members of the team were unavailable due either to not having enough required practices in yet or various nagging injuries. With the exception of junior Emily Whybark, Lynnwood suited up a squad with limited varsity experience — and it showed in the final quarter as the team’s 15-point lead slowly evaporated under a full-court pressure applied by Bothell.

Working with a short bench, Lynnwood Coach Brandon Newby felt it was more important that ever to rely on Kirkman during the final moments of Thursday’s game.

“This kid’s a gamer,” he said of Kirkman. “She’s a weathered veteran who has played in a lot of big games for us down the stretch (in the) last year. She played a lot of great games getting us into that state tournament.”

When it comes to the closing seconds of a contest, “I want the ball in her hands at all times,” Newby continued.

The game at Bothell was the second of four against larger 4A schools to start the season for Lynnwood. Newby stated that playing the bigger schools is good for his team.

“It preps us for conference (3A Wesco League),” he said. “We play some 4A schools to get us ready for that big 15-game gauntlet we’ve got in our conference.”

“Playing these games will (also) get us ready for the playoffs, and that’s why we like to do them,” Newby said.

Any postseason play for the Royals is still two months away, but the team is off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2015. Lynnwood’s next game is on Tuesday, Dec. 4, when the team travels to Mill Creek to face the Jackson Timberwolves; tipoff is slated for 7:15 p.m.

Prep Girls Basketball: Lynnwood at Bothell, Nov. 29

Lynnwood 11 12 18 8 — 49
Bothell 7 8 11 22 — 48

Lynnwood scoring: Amayah Kirkman 27, Emily Whybark 6, Madison Steele 5, Jayden Angell 4, Arianna Ilog 3, Katelyn Kesinger 2, Eli Vazquez 2

Bothell scoring: Devon Lipkin 12, Nicole Leadley 12, Jayda Dixon 7, Mazie Castagnetta 7, Amara Iheke 6, Evie Smith 4, Camryn Lavine, Abigail Vannoy, Yi Wang

Records: Lynnwood 0-0 in 3A Wesco League, 2-0 overall; Bothell 0-0 in 4A KingCo League, 0-1 overall

Lynnwood next game: versus Jackson, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 7:15 p.m. at Jackson High School in Mill Creek (to be streamed live on STSPN.com)

— By Doug Petrowski

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