How big was Lynden Christian’s upset of Zillah in Saturday’s boys basketball regionals? Big enough that it now makes the Lyncs one of the favorites at the Class 1A state tournament.
Of course, it also put them on a possible collision course with a Whatcom County rival that is waiting for another crack at LC: the Meridian Trojans.
The Trojans get into the act first in the Yakima SunDome, where they will take on Bellevue Christian in a loser-out game on Wednesday, March 4, at 12:15 p.m. This is a rematch of a Christmas tournament game that Meridian won in overtime, 61-58.
Lynden Christian will see its first action on Thursday at 12:15 p.m., when the Lyncs will play the winner of the Meridian-Bellevue Christian game. This, too, will be a rematch. LC won that one, 81-56, in the Trojans’ next-to-last regular-season game.
Here’s a look at both teams and the 1A boys state tournament:
Record: 19-8 (#12 seed)
Starters: Ryan Johnson, G, Sr., 6-2; Corey Hemenway, G, Sr., 6-2; Jackson Short, G, Sr., 6-3; Jordan Veenstra, G, Sr., 5-9; Joseph Plagerman, P, Sr., 6-3.
Reserves: Andrew Kuljis, G/P, Jr., 6-2; Eli Hayrynen, G, Jr., 6-2; Braiden Blackwelder, G, So., 5-11; Trent Martin, G, Sr., 5-8; Daniel Short, G, So., 6-0; Trey Naidu, G., Jr., 6-1; Ethan Brooks, G/P, Jr., 6-3.
Team preview: Meridian isn’t big — the tallest Trojan is only 6-foot-3 — but Saturday’s regional victory over a huge Vashon Island team proved again that Meridian can play with anyone. And they’ve got experience with five senior starters who are on a mission to bring back a trophy. Short is an offensive star who scores inside and outside, Veenstra can bury a 3 from anywhere, and Johnson is a tough all-around guard. But defense often is the key at state, and the Trojans’ physical pressure makes them dangerous.
State outlook: The Trojans have been a hot team, winning six of seven playoff games, often in impressive fashion. But their road is tough. Bellevue Christian is seeded fifth and will be out to avenge the earlier loss. Should Meridian win, it would face its old county nemesis, Lynden Christian, which also is playing well. The road is not easy, but this group of gritty Trojans isn’t afraid of anyone.
Coach Shane Stacy: “The depth of the teams (at state) … there’s no real drop-off. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day. They (the Trojans) expected to be in this situation. They’re not satisfied with this (just getting to state).”
Lynden Christian Lyncs
Record: 20-5 (#6 seed)
Starters: Zach Sipma, F, Sr., 6-3; Bryce Bouwman, G, Sr., 6-2; Andrew DeVries, G, Sr., 6-0; Jaden DeBoer, G, Jr., 6-1; Logan Dykstra, F, Jr., 6-4.
Reserves: Tyler Sipma, G, Fr., 5-10; Brevin Zylstra, G, Sr., 5-9; Shale Whittern, G., Jr., 6-0; Cole Moorlag, G, Jr., 5-10; Andrew Hommes, F, So., 6-5; Jamison Hintz, F, So., 6-0; Will Cowell, F, So., 6-4.
Team preview: The three senior starters — Sipma, Bouwman and DeVries — will lead the way, and DeBoer is as clutch as they come. But what makes LC one of the state’s best is having a starting five that can shoot the lights out and a second five that comes in to create havoc on defense. It’s a unique combination that teams better be ready for or they’ll get steamrolled by the Lyncs.
State outlook: With the three state favorites — Seattle Academy, King’s, and Zillah all in the other bracket — Lynden Christian probably has an easier road to the finals. But this is state, and there are no easy roads. Should the Lyncs beat either a hot Meridian team or Bellevue Christian, they’d face another squad with a lot of history and talent, Cashmere, in the semis. The good news: The Lyncs have been here before and know what it takes to win having placed first and fourth the past two years.
Coach Roger DeBoer: “One of the things that has been unexpected because we got a late start (because of the football playoffs) is that we never got to the point where the season is a grind. The unforeseen benefit is that our guys are really excited to get better every day, and practice every day. It’s been fun to work with a group of kids with a strong desire to get better for each game.”
Class 1A Boys State Tournament
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4
#14 King’s vs. #3 Zillah, 9 a.m. (loser out)
#10 La Center vs. #7 King’s Way Christian, 10:30 a.m. (loser out)
#12 Meridian vs. #5 Bellevue Christian, 12:15 p.m. (loser out)
#9 La Salle vs. #8 Omak (loser out)
THURSDAY, MARCH 5
#4 River View vs. King’s-Zillah winner, 9 a.m.
#1 Seattle Academy vs. La Center-King’s Way Christian, 10:30 a.m.
#6 Lynden Christian vs. Meridian-Bellevue Christian, 12:15 p.m.
#2 Cashmere vs. La Salle-Omak winner, 2 p.m.
FRIDAY, MARCH 6
Consolation game, 9 a.m. (loser out)
Consolation games, 10:30.m. (loser out)
Semifinal, 7:15 p.m.
Semifinal, 9 p.m.
SATURDAY, MARCH 7
Consolation game, 8 a.m. (winner fourth, loser sixth)
Consolation game, 11:15 p.m. (winner third, loser fifth)
Championship game, 7 p.m. (winner first, loser second)