If Mikayla Pivec is thinking about what kind of costume to wear next Halloween, she should consider a Superman outfit.
In one of the most overpowering performances in state tournament history, the Lynnwood junior did about everything but leap tall buildings in a single bound, scoring a game-high 31 points and grabbing a game-high 17 rebounds to lead the Royals to a 54-42 victory over Cleveland in the Class 3A girls basketball championship game Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.
Just how dominating was Pivec in leading Lynnwood to its first-ever state girls hoops title?
She scored 22 of Lynnwood’s 25 points in the first half, connecting on an astounding 10 of 13 shots from the field. Pivec made 14 of 20 shots for the game and was 3 for 9 on 3-point attempts. Pivec, on her own, drew 11 fouls from the Eagles, who as a team managed to only draw 11 fouls for the entire game.
“She is just an amazing player,” said Lynnwood junior Jordyn Edwards, who shook off a scoreless first half to finish with 12 points. “I’m so happy to have her as a teammate. She goes strong to the hoop. She makes free throws. She rebounds. She does it all.”
Edwards’ father, Lynnwood coach Everett Edwards, was both impressed and appreciative of Pivec’s performance, especially in the first half when she lifted the Royals on her shoulders.
“Mikayla was a stud tonight,” coach Edwards said. “She had our first 10 or 11 points (it was actually 12) just to get us going and we needed every one of those points. She got herself off to a great start, had a great middle and a great finish. She simply was a stud tonight.”
Said Pivec, “I just tried to be aggressive and my teammates set me up in good positions to score. They (shots) were falling early on.”
Unlike its quarterfinal and semifinal contests, which Lynnwood won by 26 and 24 points, Lynnwood (25-2) had to fight hard and battle back from a first-half deficit in order to deny Cleveland’s bid for a third straight state championship.
The Eagles (19-9) took a 15-13 first quarter lead and extended it to 27-19 at the 2:45 mark of the second quarter. But the Royals finished with a 6-2 run with Pivec scoring all three baskets to cut the deficit to 29-24 at halftime.
“We felt that things didn’t go our way in the first half,” coach Edwards said. “We felt like they were hitting everything. We felt there were some 50/50 calls that didn’t go our way and we felt very good about being down four.”
Pivec took up where she left off, scoring the first basket of the third quarter. Then, Edwards, after missing the three shots she attempted in the first half, hit a 3-pointer and followed that with a 2-point basket as Lynnwood took a 31-29 lead.
“Personally, I struggled a little bit in the first half,” Edwards said. “Mikayla had a great start in the first half and kept on the rest of the game. At halftime I knew I needed to step up my defense a little bit more, to try to help out more in that part and offensively I needed to keep taking open shots when I had them. I just needed to keep a positive attitude.”
At halftime coach Edwards told his players to focus on Aqeelah Williams and Jayde Christopher. Williams, who scored 12 points in the first half, was held to 2 points in the second half, while Christopher didn’t score any points in the second half after having three points in the first half.
“Dani Hayes and Reilly Walsh did an amazing job on defense and I was there if they needed my help,” Edwards said. “We all just talked on defense and did a good job.”
With the score tied at 33, Pivec hit a basket and Kaprice Boston converted a fastbreak lay-up as the Royals headed to the fourth quarter with a 37-33 advantage.
Lynnwood had a 44-36 lead midway through the fourth quarter when Pivec scored consecutive putback baskets to extend the advantage to 48-36. Cleveland was able to cut Lynnwood’s lead to 48-42 with just over a minute remaining in the game.
But Edwards halted the Eagles’ momentum by sinking four straight free throws to boost the Lynnwood lead to 52-42 with 25.8 seconds remaining.
The final seconds of the game turned out to be the most emotional for the Royals as senior Monty Cooper, who suffered a severely sprained ankle in the first quarter of Friday’s semifinal contest, came in to play for the first and only time in Saturday’s title game. Cooper, who was walking around on crutches before the game, hit a jumper from the left wing and was mobbed by her teammates and coaches after the buzzer sounded.
“We hoped she’d be able to go today but it was not going to happen,” coach Edwards said. “So just to get her into the game and not only to get her into the game but to have her hit the final bucket was huge … a great moment for a senior. What a great moment for our team.”
Added Pivec, “It was the perfect ending to a state championship. I couldn’t draw it up any better. Once she shot, I knew it was in. It was so awesome.”
– By David Pan
NOTES: Lynnwood’s Mikayla Pivec was named the MVP of the 3A girls tournament and also was a first-team selection along with teammate Jordyn Edwards. Also named to the first team was Cleveland’s Aqeelah Williams.
DRIVEN FROM THE START: Asked about what motivated her strong first half performance, Lynnwood’s Mikayla Pivec said she realized how significant playing in a state championship game was. “You don’t know if you’re going to get back here at all,” she said.