Cleveland captures battle of top-ranked girls basketball teams
Eagles start slow, but use defense to mount big comeback
Special to The Seattle Times
Cleveland got the victory. Lynnwood got some useful lessons.
In a meeting of the state’s top-ranked 3A and 4A girls basketball teams, Cleveland used its quickness to pressure Lynnwood into a poor shooting night and earn a 59-49 victory Wednesday night in front of a near-capacity crowd at Cleveland.
The matchup, arranged over the past few days by the schools’ coaches when both had scheduled games canceled, provided helpful insights to both squads.
“This is just what I was looking for,” said Lynnwood coach Everett Edwards, whose team was ranked No. 13 in USA Today’s national poll. “We needed to face adversity, and facing a team like Cleveland is just going to help us in our preparation to try and win the WesCo South and our district tournament.”
After a slow start for the Eagles, who trailed 14-5 late in the first quarter, Cleveland (5-2) gave Lynnwood (6-1) plenty of adversity in the second period, harassing the Royals into 1-for-9 shooting from the field. Cleveland outscored Lynnwood 16-3 in the second quarter, forcing the Royals into eight turnovers.
“I was disappointed the ball didn’t fall for us tonight,” Edwards said. “We had opportunities to make shots, but because of the pressure Cleveland applied we weren’t able to finish. That’s a learning lesson for us. We’ve faced taller teams, but not one with this kind of quickness. They’re the defending 3A state champions, but I wish we could have made it a little bit closer.”
The Eagles led by 19 with three minutes to play in the third quarter. Lynnwood narrowed the gap to eight late in the fourth quarter but could pull no closer.
Senior Makala Roper led Cleveland with 17 points and Myzhanique Ladd put in 16. Kelsey Rogers topped Lynnwood with 12 points and Grace Douglas had 11.
“Our pressure and our ability to attack the rim made the difference tonight,” said Cleveland coach Stephenie Wheeler-Smith. “I think we were just so wound up for the opportunity to play the game that we started slowly, but once they calmed down, we saw what they are capable of doing.”
Information in this article, originally published Jan. 1, 2014, was corrected the same day. A previous version of this story mispelled the first name of Cleveland High School’s Makala Roper.