A 52-2 record. A state championship and a fourth-place trophy.
That’s the legacy the Lynden Christian boys basketball team will leave in the record books after beating Bellevue Christian, 78-48, for fourth place Saturday in the Class 1A state tournament in Yakima’s SunDome.
But the legacy the Lyncs will leave off the court is what will always stay with LC coach Roger DeBoer.
“This is the most successful two-year run in Lynden Christian’s storied history,” said DeBoer, who has been a big part of that history having won a state title as a player and two more as a coach.
“But this group will be defined by their love of Jesus, their love for each other, and their love of the game.”
For updated stories and pictures from the 1A and 2A state tournaments, visit www.whatcomhoops.com. And for more pictures, be sure to check out the Whatcom Hoops Facebook page.
That love was shown by the tears as the five seniors each were given an ovation and hugs by their teammates as they came off the court for the final time …
And by the cheers of family, friends and fans for a team that had given them much joy the past two seasons.
“You’re happy and sad,” said senior Cole Bajema, the Lyncs’ all-state guard and all-time leading scorer. “We (the five seniors) have known each other almost since pre-school. It’s been an amazing two years.”
Jake Libolt, the only senior who doesn’t start, epitomized the unselfishness of the group by being its cheerleader and emotional leader on the bench even though he rarely played much.
As a reward, DeBoer started Libolt in his final game … and the senior responded with five points, two assists … and his first-ever 3-pointer.
“Jake hitting that 3 was pretty unforgettable,” said Bajema, who finished his high school career Saturday with 23 points and 14 rebounds and being named to the all-tournament first team for the second year in a row.
“The tears were coming even before the game,” said Libolt. “The bond we’ve had as teammates is something we’ll never forget.”
The Lyncs finished 26-1 for the second straight year, still stinging that the “1” came in Thursday’s quarterfinals against King’s that ended their dream of a second straight state title. But they bounced back with dominating wins over Seattle Academy on Friday and Bellevue Christian on Saturday.
“It’s a great microcosm of life,” said DeBoer. “You don’t always get what you want. But today we got to bask in the love we have for each other.”
Although Saturday’s game seemed almost like an after thought since both teams were guaranteed a trophy, the Lyncs went out in style.
Junior guard Andrew DeVries was the spark for the second straight day finishing with six 3-pointers and 20 points and was named to the all-tournament second team for the second year in a row.
During a four-minute stretch midway through the second quarter, he hit three 3-pointers and a layup as LC scored 17 straight points to go up by 25.
All that was left was to let the bench get some playing time … and for the seniors to get their due.
“This is a special group of seniors who made it a family,” said DeBoer. “They’ll always be a part of the Lynden Christian program.”
The biggest ovation went to LC’s biggest star, Bajema, who will be firing up 3-pointers for the University of Michigan next year.
“His numbers and stat line speaks for itself,” said DeBoer. “Obviously, he’s an amazing talent. But it’s amazing that someone that good at his craft made it about everybody else. In four years not one time did he ever make it about himself.”
Which can be said about Libolt, too … except for the stat line (although he did tie Bajema with one 3-pointer on Saturday). Libolt did, however, lead the team in jumping off the bench to cheer a good play.
“Jake is genuinely an amazing teammate,” said DeBoer. “Playing (in the game) or not playing, he deeply loves his team.”
The other seniors who were part of the incredible two-year run and who will be greatly missed are Cole Langstraat, Luke Bos and Cristian Colwell.
Langstraat had another outstanding game Saturday with nine points and six rebounds, and Colwell finished with seven points and nine rebounds. Jaden DeBoer and Zach Sipma added six points each.
Voted on by the media covering the event
First team: Antonio Salinas, Zillah (MVP); Cole Bajema, Lynden Christian; Khalfani Cason, King’s Way Christian; Tyler Linhardt, King’s; Ken West, Bellevue Christian.
Second team: Andrew DeVries, Lynden Christian; Weston Ide, Zillah; Bryson Metz, King’s Way Christian; Avery Seter LaCenter; Hunter Ecklund, LaCenter; Eyon Zevenbergen, King’s; Cesar Diaz, Zillah.
Lynden Christian 78, Bellevue Christian 48
Lynden Christian 18 16 22 22 — 78
Bellevue Christian 21 5 12 10 — 48
Lynden Christian: Bryce Bouwman, Tanner Feenstra, Brevin Zylstra, Jaden DeBoer 6, Zach Sipma 6, Cole Langstraat 9, Andrew DeVries 20, Cole Bajema 23, Jake Libolt 5, Luke Bos 2, Cristian Colwell 7, Shane Whittern.
Bellevue Christian: Mick Larsen 3, Andy Moyer 17, Griff Hopkins 7, Joseph Primas, Ken West 12, Bowers, Jared Whitton 9, Walker Rulon, Jasper Heise, Jeff Jewett, Malcom Schiltz, Mark Postma.
Shooting: FG—LC 28-55 50.9, BC 17-48 35.4; FT—LC 13-21 61.9, BC 5-13 38.5; 3 PT—LC 9-20 45.0 (Bajema 1, Libolt 1, DeBoer 1, DeVries 6), BC 9-23 39.1 (Larsen 1, Moyer 3, Hopkins 1, West 1, Whitton 3). Rebounds: LC 39 (Bajema 14), BC 22 (West 4). Fouls: LC 15, BC 19. Assists: LC 17 (Colwell 4), BC 10 (Hopkins 5). Turnovers: LC 10, BC 12. Blocks: LC 1 (Bajema 1), BC 4 (Primas 2, West 2). Steals: LC 4 (LA (Langstraat 1, Bajema 1, Libolt, Whittern), BC 4.
CLASS 1A BOYS STATE TOURNAMENT
(With RPI rankings)
#9 Royal 57, #15 Cascade Christian 45 (loser out)
#2 La Center 63, #7 Deer Park 46
#12 Bellevue Christian 58, #13 Seton Catholic 48 (loser out)
#1 Lynden Christian 79, #8 Connell 53
#11 King’s Way Christian 71, #14 Overlake 52 (loser out)
#3 Zillah 84, #6 Cashmere 56
#5 Seattle Academy 65, #4 Okanogan 62
#10 King’s 65, vs. #16 Naches Valley 55 (loser out)
At Yakima SunDome
State play-in games (Wednesday)
King’s Way Christian 67, Cashmere 52 (loser out)
King’s 77, Deer Park 40 (loser out)
Bellevue Christian 61, Okanogan 52 (loser out)
Connell 43, Royal 40 (loser out)
King’s Way Christian 49, Seattle Academy 39
King’s 73, Lynden Christian 50
Zillah 58, Bellevue Christian 51
LaCenter 68, Connell 45
Consolation semifinals (Friday)
Lynden Christian 75, Seattle Academy 39 (loser out)
Bellevue Christian 60, Connell 48 (loser out)
King’s Way Christian 42, King’s 41
Fourth-sixth place game (Saturday)
Lynden Christian 78, Bellevue Christian 48 (winner fourth, loser sixth)
Consolation final (Saturday)
King’s 68, LaCenter 56 (winner third, loser fifth)
Championship game (Saturday)
Zillah 90, King’s Way Christian 68 (winner first, loser second)
(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.