The Lynden Christian boys basketball team has made state reservations nine of the past 10 years, winning state titles twice and placing second twice over that span. The last time Blaine was at state, most of the current Borderites hadn’t been born.
Now the two of them will be heading into the Class 1A state regionals on hot streaks and with plans of not only reaching the state tournament in Yakima but bringing back some hardware.
Check out Whatcom Hoops for previews of the Class 1B boys, Class 1A girls, and Class 2A boys and girls state regionals.
The ninth-seeded Borderites are up first, taking on 16th-seed Wahluke on Saturday, Feb. 26, at 4 p.m. at Mount Vernon High School. The winner advances to the state tournament in Yakima for a first-round, loser-out game on Wednesday. The loser of Saturday’s game is done for the year.
The second-seeded Lyncs will have the Saturday nightcap, facing seventh-seed Annie Wright at 8 p.m. also at Mount Vernon. Both teams will advance to the SunDome next week, but Saturday’s loser will have to play a first-round, loser-out contest on Wednesday, while Saturday’s winner advances to the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Blaine has won 10 of its last 12, the only losses coming to LC in the regular season and in district, and is making its first state appearances since 2004.
The second-seeded Lyncs, who come into the tournament as one of the favorites, have won 18 of 19 this season and return a quartet of players from the team that made a surprising run in the 2020 tournament, when they came up one point short of winning the state title.
Here’s a look at both our teams and the 1A boys state tournament:
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN LYNCS
Record: 18-1 (#2 seed)
Starters: Tyler Sipma, G, Jr., 6-0; Griffin Dykstra, G, Jr., 6-0; Crew Bosman, F, Sr., 6-3; Andrew Hommes, F, Sr., 6-6; William Colwell, F, Sr., 6-5.
Reserves: Dexter Zylstra, G, Jr., 5-11; Dawson Bouma, G., So., 5-11; Eli Bootsma, F, Sr., 6-4; Jamison Hintz, F, Sr., 6-1; Lane Dykstra, G, Jr., 5-1; Kayden Stuit, F, So., 6-5; Jeremiah Wright, F, So., 6-6.
Team preview: There’s a reason why Lynden Christian is one of the favorites … actually there’s several reasons. The Lyncs are physical; quick; skilled with all-stater Hommes; experienced with veteran Sipma, Bosman, and Caldwell; and are seven deep with no drop-off. LC’s only loss was to Class 2A co-favorite Lynden on a last-second shot. They have no weakness, but they’ll have a lot of competition from equally strong teams.
State outlook: LC will join defending 2020 state champion King’s and Life Christian, which won the unofficial 2021 state tournament, as favorites. But Yakima Valley powers Toppenish and Zillah are very dangerous, one-loss Freeman is looking to get back to the championship game after a three-year absence, and the Lyncs better not look past a young but talented Annie Wright squad. Expect this to be one of the best 1A state fields from top to bottom.
Coach Tim Zylstra: “Everybody’s been waiting to get back to state, and it’s going to be a really strong tournament. You better be ready to play starting with regionals. Every one of the top teams has a shot at it.”
Record: 13-6 (#9 seed)
Starters: Matthew Russ, G, Jr., 6-3; Carson Lehnert, G, Jr., 6-3; Cole Thomas, F, Sr., 6-4; Scott Baldwin, G, Sr., 6-0; Avery Dohner, F, Sr., 6-3.
Reserves: Lucas Smith, G, Jr., 6-3; Jaxon Kortlever, G, Sr., 6-2; Lawrence Creasey-Pulphus, F, Jr., 6-0; Ethan Korseki, F/G, Jr., 6-2; Anden Holly, F, Sr., 6-3; Alex Censale, G, Jr., 5-9; Noah Tavis, F, So., 6-3.
Team preview: Blaine is one of those teams you don’t like to play. The Borderites are disciplined on offense and have seven players who can score in double figures any time although seniors Thomas, Baldwin, Dohner, and Kortlever are the emotional engines that drives Blaine. And they play in the rugged Northwest Conference so they know how to play tough, physical defense as shown by victories over 2A power Lynden and 3A Ferndale. They’ll need to be both disciplined and defensive when they face the running Warriors of Wahluke, who got hot in the Yakima Valley playoffs.
State outlook: The Big Three (King’s, Lynden Christian and Life Christian) definitely are favorites, but this is a deep tournament where upsets could be brewing. The Borderites are definitely among those who could knock off a higher seed or two and add more hardware to their already large trophy case.
Coach Brett Farrar: “As a team we are pleased to check off one of the goals we set for ourselves, and now we will work to accomplish another one. Everyone you see this time of year is a good team. We are just working to make sure we are at our best, when our best is needed.”
CLASS 1A STATE REGIONALS
Saturday, Feb. 26
#4 Freeman (21-1) vs. #5 Toppenish (19-2) at University H.S., 10 a.m. (both to state tournament)
#1 King’s (21-2) vs. #8 Quincy (20-3) at Jackson HS, noon (both to state tournament)
#3 Life Christian (19-1) vs. #6 Zillah (16-2) at Foss HS, noon (both to state tournament)
#10 Seattle Academy (11-10) vs. #15 Eatonville (14-6) at Bellevue College, noon (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#12 King’s Way Christian (15-5) vs. #13 Lakeside (9 Miles) (16-9) at Battle Ground HS, 2 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#9 Blaine (13-6) vs. #16 Wahluke (12-8) at Mount Vernon HS, 4 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#11 Castle Rock (14-7) vs. #14 Cedar Park Christian (Bothell) (11-11) at Mark Morris HS, 6 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#2 Lynden Christian (18-1) vs. #7 Annie Wright (18-4) at Mount Vernon HS, 8 p.m. (both to state tournament)
At Yakima SunDome
Wednesday-Saturday, March 2-5
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.