Even fairy tales have endings. Unfortunately for the Lynnwood girls basketball team, their inspired late season run came to an end Saturday night on the court at Jackson High School Staturday night, when the 10th seeded Stanwood Spartans took control of the second half and beat the 15th seeded Royals, 80-60.
Surprising to most everyone but themselves, the Lady Royals had a late season surge, winning nine of their last 13 games, including three wins in the District 1 3A girls tournament, two of which came against the vaunted Edmonds-Woodway Warriors, who, before those losses, had only dropped two games the entire season.
The second victory over the Warriors came last week that secured the Royals this spot in Saturday night’s Regional round as the 15th seed of 16 teams.
That seed, based on the WIAA’s RPI statistical ranking system, meant that Lynnwood would face fellow Wesco 3A conference rival the Spartans from Stanwood, who had qualified for regionals by winning last week’s district tournament.
The two teams are by no means strangers. Saturday’s meeting marked the fifth time in the past two seasons that the Royals and Spartans faced off. Lynnwood beat Stanwood three times last year, once in the regular season, once in districts and again in the Tacoma Dome during day three of the State Basketball Hardwood Classic, while the Spartans won their regular season meeting this season back on January 12, 79-56.
Lynnwood came out looking very much like late-season Royals, matching Stanwood shot for shot, fighting for loose balls and playing their trademark pressure defense. Led by sophomores Nakia Boston and Amayah Kirkman, who scored nine and seven points respectively, the two teams finished the first quarter tied at 19.
The Spartans began to settle into their game plan in the second quarter, utilizing their size advantage to dominate the guard oriented Royals on the boards, often getting second, third and fourth shots on each possession. Junior Madison Chisman led Stanwood and all players in the half with 13 points, while forward Kaitlin Larson added nine points.
Stanwood took a 35-29 lead into the locker room at the half.
Stanwood started the second half with four quick points that suddenly had Lynnwood down by 10. The closest Lynnwood would manage the rest of the way would be to get within seven.
Larson, Chisman and guard Jillian Heichel dominated the half rebounding and scoring, answering all of Lynnwood’s mini runs with scores of their own. Larson had 19 of her game high 26 in the half, while Heichel had 13 and Chisman 10.
When the final horn sounded, the Spartans owned an 80-60 victory over the Royals, securing themselves a trip to the Tacoma Dome to represent Stanwood High School in the Hardwood Classic and ending Lynnwood’s 2017-18 campaign.
Nakia Boston finished with 23 points to lead the Royals.
“Tough match up for us. They’re just huge. Rebounding. They’re getting two and three and four opportunities. It’s just tough. We’re a guard-oriented team. We don’t have that size. They just wore us down. Just wore us down,” said Lynnwood head coach Brandon Newby.
He went on to talk about his Royals team and their season.
“Before the game I told them I was so proud of them. Win or lose today, it’s not going to define who you are. They’ve had a heck of a season. They accomplished a lot of things that everyone wrote them off for. They finished the year strong, winning nine of their last thirteen ball games, and really fought hard,” he said.
“I told those seniors, who had been to State every year, Huge accomplishment. Nobody can ever take that away from them,” Newby continued.
Lynnwood finished their season with 15 wins and 11 losses.
Stanwood will move on and face Prairie on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the first round of the WIAA Hardwood Classic State Tournament at the Tacoma Dome.
Girls Basketball: Lynnwood at Stanwood, Feb. 24
Lynnwood 19 10 17 14 —60
Stanwood 19 16 20 25 —80
Lynnwood scoring: Nakia Boston 23, Amayah Kirkman 18, Rachel Walsh 14, Vang Vo 3, Liz Jones 2
Stanwood scoring: Kaitlin Larson 26, Jillian Jeichel 20, Madison Chisman 19, Ashley Alter 12, Shelby Lund 3
Records: Lynnwood 15-11 overall; Stanwood 17-6 overall
–Story and photos by Scott Williams