Cole Bajema had his way with 32 points, but the all-state guard got plenty of help as the Lynden Christian boys basketball team defeated King’s, 70-63, to claim the Class 1A District 1 championship Wednesday night at Mount Vernon High School.
The victory earned Lynden Christian (22-0) more than just a district crown. It put the Lyncs into the Bi-District 1/2 championship game against Seattle Academy on Saturday and gave them the automatic berth in the state tournament that goes with it.
For more pictures and updates on how our Whatcom County teams are doing in the 1B, 1A, 2A, and 3A tournaments, be sure to keep checking www.whatcomhoops.com.
“This was big for us,” said Bajema, who led the Lyncs to the 1A state title last year. “It feels amazing.”
While Bajema was amazing throughout the game, he was especially clutch when Lynden Christian needed him the most. Early in the fourth quarter, when King’s cut LC’s lead to three, Bajema had two of his patented drives that resulted in hanging layups, fouls and a pair of three-point plays.
“He has this great feel for when the moment is his,” said LC coach Roger DeBoer. “They were playing physical with him, and he kept his poise. But our role players had big moments, too.”
The Lyncs’ biggest role player — literally — is 6-foot-9 center Cristian Colwell, who is usually called on to rebound and be a defensive force under the basket. But the senior, who missed almost all of last year with an injury, did his part on offense Wednesday, starting the game off with a dunk and finishing with 15 points.
“They are huge, even bigger than us,” Colwell said of the Knights, who start three players 6-foot-6 or taller. “So I knew I’d have to step up. I was ready to score, and I knew I’d keep getting the ball.”
While Bajema and Colwell did most of the scoring, DeBoer was quick to point out the defense of Cole Langstraat, the hustle of Andrew DeVries, the rebounding of Luke Bos and the clutch free throw shooting of Bryce Bouwman and Jaden DeBoer.
With the Lyncs clinging to a six-point lead with just under two minutes to go, King’s began fouling. Wrong move.
Langstraat made a free throw, DeBoer hit two of two, Bajema hit two more, and Bouwman nailed down the victory by hitting five in a row in the last 40 seconds as LC hit 12 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter. Bouwman finished with eight points and Langstraat had six.
For King’s, which fell to 17-5 for the season, 5-7 guard Hunter Reeves bombed in four 3-pointers for 22 points, and 6-6 freshman forward Tyler Linhardt had 16.
Lynden Christian 70, King’s 63
Lynden Christian 19 18 11 22 — 70
King’s 20 10 13 20 — 63
Lynden Christian: Bryce Bouwman 8, Brevin Zylstra, Jaden DeBoer 2, Zach Sipma 2, Cole Langstraat 6, Andrew DeVries 2, Cole Bajema 32, Jake Libolt, Luke Bos 3, Cristian Colwell 15.
King’s: Shane McGaughey-Fick, Hunter Reeves 22, Davis Campbell, Jordan Hansen, Will Pohland, Nate Kleppe 8, Tyler Durbin, Jaron Hansen 4, Elyon Zevenbergen 11, Luke Bobin 2, Tyler Linhardt 16.
Meridian Puts Away Cedar Park Christian For Third
After a day of rescheduling and moving around games because of the snow, the Trojans got to play at home Wednesday and weren’t very good hosts as they demolished Cedar Park Christian (Bothell), 63-40.
Both teams had already qualified for the bi-district tournament, but Meridian (12-10) will get to host a game Thursday against Eastside Prep of Kirkland in a loser-out contest. The winner of that game will take on Overtake of Redmond on Friday in a winner-to-state, loser-out game.
Cedar Park Christian (11-11) will also play Thursday in a loser-out game.
CLASS 1A DISTRICT 1 BOYS TOURNAMENT
First round (last Wednesday)
Nooksack Valley 63, Sultan 43 (loser out)
South Whidbey 61, Granite Falls 39 (loser out)
Semifinals (last Wednesday)
Lynden Christian 77, Cedar Park Christian (Bothell) 40
King’s 87, Meridian 49
Consolation round (last Thursday)
Cedar Park Christian (Bothell) 52, Nooksack Valley 40 (loser out)
Meridian 67, South Whidbey 47 (loser out)
Consolation Final (Wednesday)
Meridian 63, Cedar Park Christian (Bothell) 40 (winner third, loser fourth, both advance to bi-district)
Championship final (Wednesday)
Lynden Christian 70, King’s 63 (winner first, loser second, both advance to bi-district, winner to state)
(Full schedule and bracket at nwcathletics.com)
Jim Carberry is a former Bellingham Herald sports editor and author of several books on Whatcom County prep basketball. Follow him on Twitter @whatcomhoops and visit the Whatcom Hoops Facebook page.