The star player called it “staying the course.” The coach called it “showing poise.” And the Lynden Christian boys basketball team will call it the biggest win of the year — so far.
The Lyncs stayed the course in the face of adversity and showed poise in the final three minutes to defeat Life Christian, 53-49, in a Class 1A state semifinal Friday afternoon in the Yakima Valley SunDome.
And even before you can say “state championship game,” the Lyncs were talking about their showdown with King’s in the state title game Saturday at 7 p.m. It will be a rematch of the last state title game, which the Knights won in overtime in 2020
It also will be a matchup of the top two ranked teams: No.1 King’s at 24-2 versus No.2 Lynden Christian at 22-1. The Knights will be looking for their fourth title in the past seven tournaments, and the Lyncs will be looking for their seventh championship overall and first since 2018.
Be sure to visit WhatcomHoops.com for stories and photos from the other state games.
“We’ve got one more game to win,” said senior Andrew Hommes, who was a sophomore reserve on the state runner-up squad. “We’ve prepared for this all season. I don’t want to lose to them again.”
Fellow veteran Tyler Sipma, who was a freshman on the 2020 team, said the best part of Friday’s victory was getting another crack at King’s.
“We want to get them back,” said Sipma. “And we’ll do it with the guys I grew up with. It’s going to be fun.”
Friday sure was a lot of fun for the Lyncs. All season long, they’d been part of the Big Three in the Class 1A ranks with defending champion King’s and third-seed Life Christian, which last year won the 1A state “invitational” that replaced the state tournament because of COVID restrictions.
And the Eagles were good, coming into the game with a 21-1 record and an offense that scored 80 or more points in half their games, including a 100-point game. The fewest they’d ever been held to was 62 points.
Until Friday. Although the quick Eagles flew around the court, Lynden Christian rarely gave up any fastbreak points and played hardcore Northwest Conference defense in the halfcourt. The Lyncs also forced 15 turnovers and limited Life Christian to 3-of-20 shooting from 3-point range.
But the Eagles were equally good on defense, holding Lynden Christian to its lowest point total of the season. So the teams punched and counter-punched through the first 29 minutes of the 32-minute, low-scoring slugfest.
“When our shots weren’t falling, we just stayed the course,” said Hommes.
Then came the final, exciting three minutes.
Down by one, Lynden Christian senior Crew Bosman tracked down a loose ball and turned it into a fastbreak layup to give the Lyncs a 43-42 lead. After a Hommes driving layup, Bosman made another layup that became a three-point play and fouled out Life Christian star Bradly Swillie.
Up 49-42 after another Hommes free throw, the Lyncs looked in control with two minutes to go until the Eagles scored two quick buckets to cut the lead to three.
Then over the last two minutes, it turned into a tense, pressure-packed free throw contest. Sipma made two, Life Christian missed three and made one, the Lyncs missed two, Life Christian missed two more, and finally, with 18 seconds left, Hommes hit two to ice the game and finish the scoring.
Besides hitting clutch free throws, Hommes led Lynden Christian with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Sipma, who took over in the second half, had 14 points and five assists. Bosman finished with 10 points and was once again a defensive star, and sophomore Jeremiah Wright came off the bench to score 6 points.
Coach Tim Zylstra, who was an assistant on the 2020 squad, said the key was to stick to the game plan even when things weren’t going the Lyncs’ way in the first three quarters.
“We told them there are 32 minutes in a game … eight more minutes to play for the goal we’ve worked for all year,” said Zylstra of his talk at the end of the third quarter. “They stayed with it. They showed poise throughout the game.”
As for the rematch with King’s, Zylstra said the outcome wasn’t as important as the message.
“It’s always special when the last day is for the championship,” he said. “We just want to give God the glory. That’s the bottom line.”
Lynden Christian 53, Life Christian 49
Life Christian 15 11 12 11—49
Lynden Christian 11 14 9 19—53
Life Christian: Marquis Trimble 3, Dai’Shaun Nichols 13, Davion Jackson, Bradley Swillie 16, Chae Haynes 13, Mykel Valrie 2, Ian Coates-White, Riley Kretzer 2.
Lynden Christian: Tyler Sipma 14, Griffin Dykstra 1, Jamison Hintz 5, Crew Bosman 10, Andrew Hommes 16, Jeremiah Wright 6, William Colwell 1, Eli Bootsma.
Class 1A boys state tournament
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2
Zillah 68, Castle Rock 56 (loser out)
Annie Wright 66, Seattle Academ y 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
Zillah (18-4) vs. Freeman (23-3), 8 a.m. (winner fourth, loser sixth)
Toppenish (21-3) vs. Life Christian (21-2), 11:15 p.m. (winner third, loser fifth)
King’s (24-2) vs. Lynden Christian (22-1), 7 p.m. (winner first, loser second)