There have been many special Lynden Christian boys basketball teams, including seven that have won state championships. But there’s never been one that has won back-to-back state titles … until now.
The Lyncs defeated King’s for the second year in a row, 57-47, to win the Class 1A state title Saturday, March 4, in the Yakima SunDome and become the first LC boys team to successfully defend its crown.
“To be able to do it back-to-back … I can’t put into words how happy I am,” said senior Tyler Sipma, who also started on last year’s title team.
Check Whatcom Hoops for the latest stories and photos from the state tournaments in Yakima.
The victory capped an impressive 26-2 season that saw the top-ranked Lyncs terrorize the 1A ranks, beating the state runner-up King’s (twice), third-place finisher Blaine (twice), fourth-place Zillah in the quarterfinals, fifth-place Toppenish in the semifinals, and sixth-place Overlake in regionals.
“Our motto is to get better every day and sometimes that ends like this,” said Lynden Christian coach Tim Zylstra, who now has two state titles in his three years at the helm (and COVID prevented any state tournaments his other season). “I’m very proud of them.”
And while all the years he was an assistant or head coach for Lynden Christian are special, this team is, well, extra special since his son, Dexter, is a senior on the squad.
“This senior group … I’ve been a part of their lives since they were born so it’s very special,” said Zylstra.
When Saturday’s game started, however, the Lyncs didn’t look very special and King’s (20-7) looked like it was ready to retake its state crown.
The Knights broke away from an 8-8 tie by getting hot and scoring the next 13 points. After one quarter, they’d already put up 21 points against the vaunted LC defense.
But Zylstra always preaches “stay the course,” which the Lyncs did.
“We wanted to keep attacking,” he said. “If we continue to do what we do, it’ll be fine. And it was.”
With junior Jeremiah Wright leading the attack, LC cut the margin to five by intermission. Wright, who would be named the tournament MVP, had eight points in the quarter and, more importantly, helped hold the Knights to six points in the period.
It was a sign of things to come. The Lyncs clamped down on defense, limiting the Knights to 20 second-half points, and started to hit their shots. After shooting 30 percent from the field the first half, they made 55 percent the second half.
The Lyncs opened the third period with a 10-0 run to turn the five-point deficit into a five-point lead they would never relinquish. The Knights cut the margin to one twice but junior Dawson Bouma responded with a layup and a 3-pointer.
“We didn’t play well for the first half,” said coach Zylstra. “But we came out the second half and defended like we could. We kept attacking and then the shots started to drop.”
King’s made one last-gasp, fourth-quarter comeback attempt cutting the LC lead to 46-43, but senior Lane Dykstra hit a 3-pointer, Sipma made a layup and two free throws, Wright had a layup, and Dexter Zylstra finished off the scoring with a layup and a free throw.
Wright and Sipma, who was named to all-tournament second team, would finish with 15 points, Dykstra had 11, and Bouma added 9 points. Wright was his usual tower of power inside grabbing 14 rebounds with Dykstra nabbing 6 boards and cousin Griffin Dykstra pulling down another 5.
For Lane Dykstra, winning state championships is nothing new in his family. Grandpa Glen has one, parents Jeff and Shannon have one each, sisters Avery and Riley have two each and … it’s hard to keep track of them all. (You’ll have to call Grandma Alice for details.)
But no one else has two in a row.
“This is something we’ve alway wanted … watching all the older guys play,” said the senior forward.
Sipma, whose father Brian has been a long-time LC assistant, agreed: “To be able to do it back-to-back … I can’t put it into words how happy I am. We dreamed of this (a state title) every since I went to practice with him in kindergarten. To see everyone contribute … I’m so happy for them.”
Sipma, Lane and Griffin Dykstra, Zylstra, Isaac Paxton, and Braden Kuik have now played their final game for Lynden Christian, but they’ll always be remembered as the seniors who helped LC reach its first back-to-back state titles.
Lynden Christian 57, King’s 47
Lynden Christian 8 14 17 18—57
King’s 21 6 9 11—47
Lynden Christian: Tyler Sipma 15, Gannon Dykstra, Dawson Bouma 9, Dexter Zylstra 4, Griffin Dykstra 3, Lane Dykstra 11, Isaac Paxton, Braden Kuik, Jeremiah Wright 15, Luke Van Kooten, Treven Blair, Boyce Robertson.
King’s: Gage Smith 7, Nick Linhardt 10, Cameron Hiatt 16, Maddox Boyce 2, Dylan Myers 5, Cole Adams 5, Sebastian Cooper 2, Weston Campbell, Cole Myers, Lucas Christensen, Jackson Pepsny, Cody Cramer.
CLASS 1A STATE TOURNAMENT
At Yakima Valley SunDome
Wednesday, March 1
#6 Toppenish 62, #14 Seton Catholic 42 (loser out)
#2 Zillah 80, #10 Seattle Academy 55 (loser out)
#5 King’s 72, #12 King’s Way Christian 49 (loser out)
#8 Overlake 50, #16 Lakeside (9 Mile) 46 (loser out)
Thursday, March 2
Toppenish 73, #4 Freeman 64
#1 Lynden Christian 58, Zillah 45
King’s 66, #3 Annie Wright 63
#7 Blaine 80, Overlake 52
Friday, March 3
Zillah 69, Freeman 57 (loser out)
Overlake 50, Annie Wright 49 (loser out)
Lynden Christian 82, Toppenish 60
King’s 57, Blaine 38
Saturday, March 4
Zillah 77, Overlake winner 58 (winner fourth, loser sixth)
Blaine 70, Toppenish 60 (winner third, loser fifth)
Lynden Christian 57, King’s 47 (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.