The Lynden Christian boys basketball team had heard about all the players they’d lost to graduation from perhaps the best class in school history.
But this year’s team is doing what last year’s couldn’t: playing for the Class 1A state championship.
The Lyncs unleashed another barrage of 3-pointers to shock the La Salle Lightning in the semifinals, 71-58, Friday night, March 6, in the Yakima SunDome.
The victory puts Lynden Christian where few people expected the Lyncs to be — in the title game against King’s on Saturday at 7 p.m.
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Even someone who’d been a big part of the accomplishment said he’s surprised by Lynden Christian’s rise to the championship game.
“I wouldn’t have believed it,” said the ever-honest Jaden DeBoer when asked what he would have said to such a prediction three months ago. “But it’s good to be back.”
The Lyncs are back in the state final after winning the title in 2018 and finishing fourth last season. But that’s when they had state player of the year Cole Bajema, who is now getting ready for March Madness at the University of Michigan.
Instead, the Lyncs have a team that drives opponents mad with their uncanny outside shooting.
DeBoer was the hot hand on Friday, hitting 10 of 14 field goals, including four 3-pointers, for a game-high 28 points.
“He was really good tonight,” said proud father and Lynden Christian coach Roger DeBoer. “But it was a team effort.
When a guy is feeling it, they find him.”
Andrew DeVries was feeling it. After going scoreless in the quarterfinals against Meridian, the senior shooting guard buried 6 of 12 3-point attempts for 18 points.
And the 3’s came at the right time for the Lyncs. Holding a five- to 10-point lead from midway through the first period until midway through the fourth quarter — but unable to shake the pesky Lightning — the Lyncs finally exploded.
First DeBoer and then DeVries hit 3-pointers. Then the other senior guard, Bryce Bouwman, made two pretty passes — first to junior Logan Dykstra and then to senior Zach Sipma — for easy buckets and suddenly LC was up by 15 and it was time to celebrate.
“The cool thing is … they’ve used it as motivation,” said coach DeBoer of all the predictions of doom for Lynden Christian this season. “It’s a real testament to these kids. We couldn’t rely on one guy. Yeah, we’re surprised (making it to the final). But not shocked.”
Sipma had 8 points and a team-high 6 rebounds. Dykstra had 6 points and 5 rebounds, DeVries added 5 assists and Bouwman had 4.
And now, the sixth-seeded Lyncs face King’s, a team that beat them in the district championship game, 69-57, and which will be heavily favored. But coach DeBoer just smiled.
“One more night to go,” is all he said.
Tournament tidbits: Shale Whittern was awarded the game’s sportsmanship medal for Lynden Christian.
Lynden Christian 71, La Salle 58
Lynden Christian 13 20 15 23—71
La Salle 6 17 15 20—58
Lynden Christian: Tyler Sipma 2, Jaden DeBoer 28, Brevin Zylstra 3, Shale Whittern 2, Cole Moorlag, Zach Sipma 8, Bryce Bouwman 4, Andrew DeVries 18, Logan Dykstra 6, Andrew Hommes.
La Salle: Nathan Sedgwick, Sahil Randhawa 12, Daniel O’Connor 9, Kieran Kershaw 4, Malachy Caffrey 24, Desmond Judd 4, Dom Sadeddin 5
Class 1A boys state tournament
Wednesday, March 4
King’s 68, Zillah 59 (loser out)
King’s Way Christian 85, La Center 63 (loser out)
Meridian 61, Bellevue Christian 49 (loser out)
La Salle 63, Omak 56 (loser out)
Thursday, March 5
King’s 76, River View 41
Seattle Academy 64, King’s Way Christian 51
Lynden Christian 62, Meridian 53
La Salle 48, Cashmere 38
Friday, March 6
River View 58, King’s Way Christian 57 (loser out)
Cashmere 62, Meridian 56 (loser out)
King’s 68, Seattle Academy 66
Lynden Christian 71, La Salle 58
Saturday, March 7
#2 Cashmere vs. #4 River View, 8 a.m. (winner fourth, loser sixth)
# 1 Seattle Academy vs. ##9 La Salle, 11:15 p.m. (winner third, loser fifth)
#6 Lynden Christian vs. #14 King’s, 7 p.m. (winner first, loser second)
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.