What would be better than the two-time defending Class 3A girls basketball champions tangling with the school that is arguably playing the best basketball in Washington right now in the state title game?
Top-ranked Lynnwood is surely looking forward to the challenge.
In the past two days, the Royals have dismantled two of 3A’s top programs – West Seattle on Thursday, and now Bellevue in the state semifinals Friday.
After a 22-0 run in the first half, it turned out to be no contest – Lynnwood handled the Wolverines, 63-37, in the Tacoma Dome.
Jordyn Edwards and Mikayla Pivec tallied 15 points apiece as the Royals led 32-12 at halftime, then shot a blistering (and tournament-high) 56.5 percent in the second half to cap off an amazing performance.
But it might come with a price. Starting forward Monty Cooper limped off with what appeared to be a knee injury in the first quarter. She did not return, and her status for Saturday is questionable, at best.
“We stepped up and played good basketball without Monty,” Lynnwood coach Everett Edwards said. “We needed to. We needed to show toughness tonight.”
Bellevue held a 6-4 lead – and then the wheels fell off.
The KingCo 3A champions, who reached the state semifinals in each of the past three seasons, did not score for a 9:24 span – and were held without a field goal for 10:12. They missed 12 shots, committed six turnovers and were under constant duress from the Lynnwood fullcourt pressure.
“We knew they were going to bring on the heat,” Bellevue coach Leah Krautter said. “A few things did not go our way early, and we kind of had to change our tempo, and play a game we really didn’t want to play.”
Pivec opened the second half with a three-point play, and 33 seconds later, Jordyn Edwards cranked up a 3-pointer from the corner to extend the Royals’ lead to 38-12 at the 6:33 mark of the third quarter.
Now on to Cleveland. The two teams met in a non-league matchup last season in Seattle – won 59-49 by the Eagles (24-2).
“We are playing pretty good. We are shooting the ball well, and hopefully we can do it one more day,” Everett Edwards said. “(Cleveland) is athletic, and they have a lot of experience and are well-coached. It is going to be a good game. We look forward to evening up the score.”