Maybe nobody in the Yakima Valley SunDome believed the Lynden Christian boys basketball team would win. Maybe nobody outside their huddle believed it.
With 6:20 left in the third quarter, coach Tim Zylstra called timeout with his Lyncs down by 16 to mighty King’s — the defending champs, one of the best teams in the state regardless of classification, the nemesis that had beaten LC five times at state in the past 10 years and kept them from winning state twice.
His message: Stay the course. And smile.
The Lyncs stayed the course and they sure were smiling after they’d pulled off an exciting, come-from-behind 61-58 victory to win the Class 1A state championship on Saturday night, March 5.
“It couldn’t finish any better than this,” said junior Tyler Sipma. “I remember being one of those little kids in the stands at the top of the Dome and saying, ‘That’s going to be us one day cutting down the nets’ and now we’re doing it.”
Be sure to check WhatcomHoops.com on Monday for more stories looking back at all the exciting state tournament moments and memories.
The incredible comeback win capped a 23-1 season for Lynden Christian and gave the Lyncs their seventh state championship. It came against King’s, which had beaten LC in overtime in the last state championship game in 2020 and was ranked No.1.
And when the Knights broke away from a 16-all tie to lead 39-23 early in the third period, it looked like it was time to crown King’s the king for the fourth time in the past seven state tournaments. That’s when Zylstra called timeout.
“Down 16, that’s not how you draw it up,” he said of Lynden Christian’s game plan. “They (the Knights) came out and hit shots that put the nail in first. But we wanted to stay the course and stay positive. I told them just smile, look around (the Dome), and relax. This is pretty cool.”
When your coach doesn’t panic, you don’t either. And the Lyncs started to chip away.
Still down by 14 with two minutes left in the third period, the Lyncs scored the next five points and were only behind by nine going into the final period.
“It’s the fourth quarter and I looked up and we were down less than 10,” said Zylstra. “And I thought, ‘We can do this.’”
They did it over the final six minutes.
In a three-minute span, junior Griffin Dykstra hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and Sipma and senior Jamison Hintz each hit 3-pointers sandwiched around an Andrew Hommes layup. The 14-2 run gave LC a lead it hadn’t had since early in the game and the SunDome — at least the blue side — was rocking.
“Ninety-five percent of the people (in the Dome) thought we were done, but we knew we could do it,” said Hintz, who made five huge 3-pointers in the biggest game of his career. “I couldn’t be more thankful. Everyone on this team played a role. I’m just proud of them.”
But it wasn’t over. The teams traded 3-pointers and a King’s layup gave them back the lead with 1:44 to go. It would be their final lead.
Hommes made a layup and hit the ensuing free throw for a three-point play with 1:23 to go, King’s missed a shot and Hommes made a steal. And with 14 seconds left and down by two, the Knights were forced to foul. And they fouled the wrong guys.
Sipma made two clutch free throws and, after a King’s layup with nine seconds left, Hommes hit another free throw to make it a three-point margin. King’s tried to get off a good shot to tie it, but all they got was a wild 3-point attempt that was way off and started the LC celebration.
“It’s crazy,” said Hommes, who was named the tournament MVP. “We never had a doubt. Z (Zylstra) tells us to stick together. That’s our motto: stick together.”
“This is the best feeling,” said an emotional Hintz, who hugged his sister Grace (who would win her own state title an hour later), the rest of his family, and anyone who wanted to hug. “That’s the way to end it.”
Sipma, who was named to the all-tournament second team, had 16 points and 5 assists to lead the Lyncs. Hintz had 15 points on 5 of 8 shooting from the 3-point line, and Hommes had 14 points and 11 rebounds to cap off his stellar tournament.
Dykstra added 8 points, and senior Crew Bosman had 5 points and 6 rebounds.
“It would have been easy to give up, but they continued to persevere,” said Zylstra after watching his team score 25 fourth-quarter points. “We talked about making memories (at state). “Tonight, we created a pretty good one.”
Lynden Christian 61, King’s 58
King’s 11 23 11 13—58
Lynden Christian 13 10 13 25—61
King’s: Jake O’Hearn 12, Hansen 10, Clowers 8, Linhardt 7, Hiatt 18, Campbell, Van Kirk, Myers 3, Going.
Lynden Christian: Tyler Sipma 16, Griffin Dykstra 8, Jamison Hintz 15, Crew Bosman 5, Andrew Hommes 14, Jeremiah Wright 2, William Colwell 1.
Class 1A boys state tournament
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2
Zillah 68, Castle Rock 56 (loser out)
Annie Wright 66, Seattle Academy 55 (loser out)
Freeman 58, King’s Way Christian 41 (loser out)
Quincy 69, Quincy 51 (loser out)
THURSDAY, MARCH 3
Toppenish 58, Zillah 54
King’s 61, Annie Wright 44
Life Christian 53, Freeman 52
Lynden Christian 67, Quincy 44
FRIDAY, MARCH 4
Zillah 86, Annie Wright 70 (loser out)
Freeman 82, Quincy 72 (loser out)
King’s 63, Toppenish 56
Lynden Christian 53, Life Christian 49
SATURDAY, MARCH 5
Freeman 82, Zillah 77 (winner fourth, loser sixth)
Life Christian 78, Toppenish 68 (winner third, loser fifth)
Lynden Christian 61, King’s 58 (winner first, loser second)