Unsurprisingly, Mikayla Pivec walks around with a bag full of basketballs.
But not the kind she shoots at a hoop. These basketballs are rubber and the size of an orange.
“We usually buy them at the dollar store and throw them into the crowd after games for whoever can catch them,” Pivec said. “At home games, if there was a little kid, I would give it to them.
“Last year we didn’t do much for the crowd. Every now and then we’d throw T-shirts, but I thought to get them involved a little bit more would be a cool thing to do.”
Pivec, who is The News Tribune’s state player of the year, does attract a crowd — and plenty of fans.
She gained one in 3-year-old Aubree Wells last Saturday, when No. 2 Lynnwood (24-0) routed third-ranked West Seattle to secure a trip to the Tacoma Dome.
Pivec signed one of the novelty basketballs for Aubree, whose father Tyler Wells works with Pivec’s father.
“She went home and got a new doll and named her doll Mikayla, which I thought was pretty cool,” Pivec said.
An Oregon State commit, Pivec is used to the honors by now. She was the Class 3A state tournament’s most valuable player last year when the Royals claimed the crown.
She’ll finish her career at Lynnwood with more than 1,700 career points and 1,400 career rebounds. She is averaging a double-double this season, with 22 points and 14 rebounds per game.
“I think it’s a combination of athletic ability and hard work,” Lynnwood coach Everett Edwards said. “We’ll give the kids a drink of water or a break, and she’s the first one back putting up free throws and putting up shots.”
She’s also quite the juggler. She tosses the novelty basketballs around with the same confidence she demonstrates on the court.
“My uncle, he used to be a really good juggler, and before he moved to South Carolina he showed us,” Pivec said. “I was impressed with his ability, so I bought some balls and just kind of practiced.
“But I can’t do four, I can only do three.”
That’s something Pivec — a 4.0 student who also won a 3A state title in track last season as the first leg of Lynnwood’s 1,600-meter relay — can pick up later.
She has another trip to the Tacoma Dome to worry about first.
“You always look forward to the atmosphere and the fans cheering you on,” Pivec said. “It’s exciting, it’s not just like any other game.”
She should probably pack the rubber basketballs anyway. Lynnwood is 96-6 during Pivec’s four-year career, with a possible three games to go.
“I was counting that, too,” she said. “If we continue to win, it would be 99 — so one short (of 100 high school victories).”
A second consecutive state championship seems like a pretty good consolation prize.
State player of the year: Mikayla Pivec, Lynnwood.
Coach of the year: Freddie Rehkow, Central Valley.
F Lydia Giomi, West Seattle, 6-7, senior
Few WNBA players as tall as 6-foot-7 two-time Metro MVP and Oregon signee, let alone high school. Stats: 15 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks per game.
G Jessie Loera, Moses Lake, 5-7, senior
Gonzaga-bound point guard, CBBN MVP and league defensive MVP reached state in three of her four years. Stats: 19 points, 5 assists, 4 steals per game.
F Mikayla Pivec, Lynnwood, 5-10, senior
One of the best rebounders in state history for her career, Oregon State commit has all-around game. Stats: 22 points, 14 rebounds, 5 steals per game.
F Jill Townsend, Okanogan, 5-11, junior
Soccer, basketball, softball? Nothing reigning 2B MVP doesn’t excel at for unbeaten Buldlogs. Stats: 24 points, 8 rebounds, 5 steals per game.
G Anna Wilson, Bellevue, 5-8, senior
Russell Wilson’s sister, a Stanford commit, making name for herself with unbeaten Wolverines. Stats: 16 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds per game.
F Nia Alexander, Todd Beamer, senior
16 points, 6 assists, 6 steals
F Jadyn Bush, Bishop Blanchet, junior
18 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists
F Tamia Braggs, Lincoln, senior
19.6 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists
G Jordyn Edwards, Lynnwood, senior
10.3 points, 4 assists, 4 steals
F Lexie Hull, Central Valley, sophomore
18 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals