It wasn’t easy, but the Lynnwood Royals found a way to get past a perplexing West Seattle Wildcats squad Saturday, keep their postseason success rolling and earn a trip to the Tacoma Dome for the Hardwood Classic, the final week of the WIAA 3A Girls State Basketball Tournament.
The No. 11-seeded Royals held on late and defeated the No.14-seed Wildcats 47-45 in a regional round, loser-out contest played at Arlington High School.
Saturday’s outcome wasn’t decided until the final horn as the Wildcats nearly erased a 10-point deficit in the final three minutes of the matchup. Down 46-36 with 2:51 to go, West Seattle scored nine straight points and had possession of the ball with 19.3 seconds to go and a chance to take the lead. But a contested lay-in by Colby Timmons bounced off the rim and fell into the hands of Lynnwood’s Aniya Hooker, who was fouled immediately and then converted one of two free throws.
Following the Hooker free throws and with 2.1 seconds left in the game, Timmons could only muster a desperation heave toward the Wildcats’ basket that was offline, giving the Royals the victory.
The win sends Lynnwood to a round-of-12, loser-out state tourney game against either Stanwood or Lake Washington on Wednesday, March 1. Tipoff is set for 9 a.m., the first game on the schedule in girls’ play at the Dome.
Junior Kayla Lorenz was understandably excited about the team’s victory and continuation of their 2022-2023 season. “I’m so happy; I’m so proud of my team,” she said.
Lorenz believes some tight games that she and her Royals’ teammates have played this season help the team keep focused during Saturday’s nailbiter against the Wildcats.
“We’ve had so many overtime and double-overtime games, she said. “Those really close games helped us come together as a team and to work together.
Lorenz led the Royals in scoring with 22 points, 17 in the first half when West Seattle was controlling most of the play. A pair of Lorenz 3-pointers were the only shots from the field that Lynnwood converted in the first quarter when the Wildcats sprinted out to a 16-7 lead, fueled by four long-range 3-pointers drained by junior Carmen Cruz.
Lynnwood shot just 15.4% (2 for 13) from the field in the first quarter against an unusual 1-2-2 zone defense applied by the Wildcats. Royals’ Coach Eddie Mcferrin, after scouting the Wildcats earlier in the week, came prepared Saturday to make adjustments in case his team couldn’t find the hoop early on.
“I knew if we weren’t going to be able to hit our shots we were going to have to do something different,” Mcferrin said. “Then we started insulating Kayla (Lorenz) in the middle and started to post them up a little bit. And we were able to catch up and take that two-point lead going into halftime. That sort of balanced us out a little bit.”
With the move of Lorenz to the post, Hooker took on more of the Royals’ scoring. The junior scored 16 points in the game, 11 in the second half.
The willingness of Lorenz to adapt to a midgame adjustment was just another example of the maturity Mcferrin has seen in the 6-foot-1 junior this season. “She’s come a long ways,” Mcferrin said, “From not talking when I first got her — scared to be a captain — to now being a vocal leader on and off the floor, mentoring the younger girls.”
“She’s something else and we’re glad to have her,” he added.
The trip to the Tacoma Dome is the first for the Lynnwood girls’ basketball program since 2017 and the first ever for Mcferrin, who is enjoying the Royals’ postseason run this season.
“I’m enjoying it — first ride, first ride for the girls really,” Mcferrin said with a smile. “We’re just soaking up the environment.”
To view the entire WIAA 3A Girls State Basketball Tournament bracket, click www.wpanetwork.com/wiaa/brackets/tournament.php?act=view&tournament_id=3796.
Prep Girls Basketball: West Seattle vs. Lynnwood (WIAA 3A Girls State Basketball Tournament regional round, loser-out game)
West Seattle 16 6 9 14 – 45
Lynnwood 7 17 13 10 – 47
Lynnwood individual scoring: Kayla Lorenz 22, Aniya Hooker 16, Mataya Canda 3, Nyree Johnson 3, Dina Yonas 2, Teyah Clark, Eve Pereira, McKenzie Ruse-Martin, Ena Dodik
West Seattle individual scoring: Carmen Cruz 24, Brooke Swanson 7, Lauren Wright 6, Carmen Derda 4, Colby Timmons 2, Allie Schiavo 2, Alyssa Neumann, Lucy Larson
Records: Lynnwood 17-6 overall; West Seattle 16-10 overall
Lynnwood next game: versus loser of Stanwood/Lake Washington game; Wednesday, March 1; 9:00 a.m. at the Tacoma Dome (WIAA 3A Girls State Basketball Tournament round-of-12 loser-out game)
— By Doug Petrowski
Good luck to the royal girls basketball team!
Linda Pelkey Myers class of 74
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