TACOMA – Big venue? Big game?
No big deal to the Lynnwood girls basketball team.
It was just another game, just another victory, as the top-ranked Royals rolled past Kentwood Thursday, 71-44, in the quarterfinals of Class 4A state girls basketball tournament at the Tacoma Dome.
What they lack in state experience, they’ve made up for with perspiration and preparation, according to Jasmin Edwards.
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“We’ve been working so hard,” the senior guard said after dishing out seven assists. “So coming into this, we know we’re a great team and we felt confident just as long as we play our game, we can do well.”
The Royals (24-1) are in the semifinals for only the second time in school history and the first since 1994. They play No. 2 Gonzaga Prep of Spokane (23-1) Friday at 3:45 p.m.
“They looked good, and we’re excited to play them,” Gonzaga guard Laura Stockton said after the Bullpups did their part with a 53-45 victory over fifth-ranked Skyview.
Lynnwood and Gonzaga Prep met in an AAU tournament final last summer, when the Bullpups prevailed. Gonzaga coach Mike Arte said he was impressed with the way Lynnwood played Thursday.
“We’re going to have our hands full,” he said.
Kentwood certainly did, especially in the first half as the Royals blew out to a 40-14 lead, shooting better than 53 percent from the field. They hadn’t forgotten last year’s double-overtime loss to the Conquerors that cost them a trip to Tacoma.
“We had a lot of motivation that way,” said senior Grace Douglas, who nailed four three-pointers en route to her 14 points. “We wanted to come out strong and we definitely wanted to send a message as the new team to the Tacoma Dome.”
The Royals did that, and showed their balance along the way. Sophomore Mikayla Pivec put together 19 points and 12 rebounds, while freshman Kelsey Rogers added 14 points.
Coach Everett Edwards was pleased, but not surprised, by the effort.
“We’ve been practicing very, very well, and I kind of had a feeling that we’d come out and play well,” he said. “Right now we’re just hitting on all cylinders. … To make it to the Final Four and have a chance to move on to the finals with one more win, I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.”
Kentwood (20-7) committed 16 first-half turnovers and shot just 30 percent.
“That first half, we just really didn’t play the team ball we know how to play, and our shots weren’t falling,” Kentwood coach Lisa Ashley said. “The second half, we did a better job. But you’ve got to give Lynnwood credit.”
Sarah Toeaina scored 11 of her team-high 14 points in the second half.
Kentwood plays Skyview (24-3) in a loser-out game Friday at 9 a.m.
Gonzaga Prep 53, Skyview 45
It took the Bullpups a little time to get acclimated.
“I think we were just feeling the Dome a little bit,” Stockton said. “We were a little nervous.”
Those nerves showed during a sluggish first quarter for Gonzaga Prep. The Bullpups had difficulty dealing with 6-foot-1 Jocelyn Adams inside and trailed after eight minutes, 9-7.
What’s more, Gonzaga Prep uncharacteristically turned the ball over 16 times.
“We were kind of out of sorts that first quarter,” Arte said. “We average like eight (turnovers) a game. But we are up against better defenses here, too.”
The two-point deficit after one quarter was the last time the Bullpups trailed in this one. Adams, who scored a game-high 17 points and had 12 rebounds, scored 11 of those points and grabbed nine of the rebounds in the first half.
By midway through the fourth quarter, Gonzaga Prep had extended the advantage out to 48-34. The Storm did manage an 8-0 spurt to cut the margin to six, 48-42, but could get no closer.
“We’ve been working the whole entire season to get here,” said Stockton, a junior who filled the stat sheet with 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists. “We didn’t want to lose in the first game. We want to go all the way.”
After the late Skyview run, the Bullpups converted off an inbound play with just one second left on the shot clock, extending back to a 50-42 lead. The effort may not have been as pretty as some, but then …
“It’s March 6,” Arte said. “You take the win.”
Hannah Caudill led the Prep scoring parade with 15 points, including a trio of three-pointers.
Aubrey Ward-El finished with 15 for the Storm, but made just 6 of 24 shots from the field.
Correspondent Doug Drowley contributed to this report.