With a defeat at the hands of Wesco League rival Stanwood Spartans, a season of growing stronger both on the court and in the locker room ended Wednesday for the Lynnwood Royals at the Tacoma Dome.
Lynnwood was ousted from the WIAA 3A Girls State Basketball Tournament — and saw its 2022-2023 season come to an end — with a 74-69 loss to the Spartans. But instead of being downcast after the defeat, heads were held high as the squad gathered their equipment and headed home.
The Royals, the No. 11 seed in the state tourney, played as if they didn’t want their season to end Wednesday, hanging with the No. 6-seeded Spartans throughout the first quarter. But a 15-3 run by Stanwood to close out the second quarter resulted in a 47-35 halftime lead and doomed the Royals.
“There’s something about that second quarter — I think they got us in the second quarter at home too,” Lynnwood Coach Eddie Mcferrin said after the game. “We’re going to have to get rid of that second quarter or that second quarter mojo.”
With the game knotted at 32-32, Stanwood emerged from a timeout with 2:59 to go before halftime in a new motion offense that bewildered the Royals and led to Stanwood’s big run to close out the first half.
“I thought we just made a few mental mistakes … and it cost us the game,” Mcferrin said.
Early on, the Royals stayed close to a hot-shooting Stanwood squad (18-for-29, 62.1% from the field in the first half) by putting on a sharp-shooting performance of their own. Lynnwood converted seven of nine attempts (77.8%) from beyond the 3-point arc in the first half. Five different Royals sank 3-pointers in the 16 minutes — junior Aniya Hooker had one of them and tallied 15 of Lynnwood’s game-high 26 points before the halftime break.
But Lynnwood couldn’t keep up its torrid pace in the second half, shooting just 26.7% (4-for-15) from 3-point land and falling behind by as many as 18 points (58-40 in the third quarter and 66-48 in the fourth) to the Spartans.
Despite the big deficits, the Royals didn’t surrender. With runs of 16-3 and 12-6, Lynnwood climbed back to within four points at 73-69 with 4.3 seconds to go in the game. But after an Ellalee Wortham free throw for Stanwood, time ran out for the Royals to execute a final challenge for a comeback victory.
Mcferrin liked the spunk his Royals’ squad showed in the second half. “That tells us a lot. That tells us that they want to be here and they deserve to be here,” he said.
“It shows you right there when down by 18 (points), they’re relentless, they don’t give up,” Mcferrin continued.
In addition to Hooker’s 26 points, Kayla Lorenz scored 16 points and Teyah Clark added 10 points for the Royals. Five Spartans reached double-figure scoring in the contest, led by Wortham with 21 points.
The Royals end the year with an overall record of 17-7; all of their losses were to teams that qualified for state tournament play.
Wednesday’s game was the final time two Lynnwood seniors — McKenzie Ruse-Martin and Eve Pereira — donned Royals’ uniforms. Each said they came to think of the 2022-2023 Royals’ squad as family.
“We’ve grown a lot since they first came in. I think we just became a family,” said Ruse-Martin. “We started off a little rocky but we came together in the end.”
“We’ve always said ‘family first’ but I think now we can say that we mean it,” said Pereira
The future looks bright for Lynnwood girls basketball as six core juniors — five of which started most Royals’ games this season — are expected to return next year: Hooker, Lorenz, Clark, Mataya Canda, Nyree Johnson and Dina Yonas. Mcferrin was already expressing optimism as he looked ahead to the 2023-2024 season.
“Expect those six girls to be back in (the Tacoma Dome) next year and then playing deep into this tournament,” he said.
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: Lynnwood vs. Stanwood, March 1 (WIAA 3A State Girls Basketball Tournament round-of-12 loser-out game)
Lynnwood 21 14 13 21 – 69
Stanwood 23 24 13 14 – 74
Lynnwood scoring: Aniya Hooker 26, Kayla Lorenz 16, Teyah Clark 10, Dina Yonas 9, Mataya Canda 3, Nyree Johnson 3, McKenzie Ruse-Martin 2, Eve Pereira
Stanwood scoring: Ellalee Wortham 21, Vivienne Berrett 16, Tatum Brager 13, Grace Walker 12, Chloe Santeford 10, Ava Depew 1, Jazmyn Legg 1
Records: Lynnwood 17-7 overall; Stanwood 20-5 overall
Lynnwood next game: 2022-2023 season completed
— By Doug Petrowski
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