The Lynden Christian girls basketball team has played against its share of good players over the years, but even they were surprised by how good Julianna Walker was.
Fortunately for the Lyncs, basketball is a team sport and the Lynden Christian team was way too good for Walker’s Annie Wright team as LC rolled to a 77-59 victory Saturday in a Class 1A state regional game at Mount Vernon High School.
The No.3-ranked Lyncs, who improved to 21-3, now advance to the state quarterfinals in Yakima on Thursday at 2 p.m. They will play the winner of Wednesday’s Overlake-Elma game.
For stories and pictures from the 1B, 1A and 2A regionals, be sure to keep checking www.whatcomhoops.com.
The game went pretty much as expected. The sixth-ranked Gators of Tacoma got all of their scoring from their talented guards — sophomore Walker and freshman Jazmyn Stone — while the Lyncs got scoring from a lot of people and defense from everybody.
Walker finished with 38 points, either shooting from the parking lot with a hand in her face or driving past four Lyncs for off-balanced layups. Stone had a more difficult time but managed 15 points mostly on drives to the basket.
“We knew they were talented players,” said LC coach Brady Bomber. “As the game went on, we did a better job against them. Our depth was a factor.”
That depth allowed the Lyncs to rotate four defenders on Walker — starter Liv Mellema and freshman Libby Stump doing most of the duty — while leaving defensive whiz Riley Dykstra on Stone. Walker was “held” to three field goals in the second half and no 3-pointers as the Lyncs pulled away after halftime.
“Four of us were chasing her,” said Mellema, who added nine points to her defensive effort. “We just wanted to make her life miserable. She’s really good, but we tightened up in the second half.”
Making life miserable for the smaller Gators were the Lynden Christian big girls, who dominated the inside to the tune of 20 offensive rebounds.
Isabela Hernandez didn’t even bother with her sweet outside shot and drove inside again and again for a team-high 19 points. Dykstra had 16 points and Grace Sterk added 14, almost all of them inside.
“We wanted to attack the hoop,” said Hernandez. “I like shooting, but we could get a layup every time … and it paid off tonight.”
For the Lynden Christian girls, returning to Yakima to defend their state crown is something they’ve been looking forward to. And Thursday, it starts again.
“I love state,” said Sterk. “The atmosphere in the SunDome is so cool. And I love playing with this team.”
The sixth-ranked Gators of Tacoma also advance to Yakima, but have to play a loser-out game on Wednesday at 9 a.m. against Zillah.
Lynden Christian 77, Annie Wright 59
Annie Wright 13 19 12 15 — 59
Lynden Christian 20 19 21 17 — 77
Annie Wright: Julianna Walker 38, Savannah Hill, Paisley Cristobal 1, Tara Hutchinson, Gracie Viscon, Agye Mintah, Anna Parrott, Bella Spencer 5, Jazmyn Stone 15, Alec MacCord.
Lynden Christian: Libby Stump 2, Josie Bocci 6, Isabela Hernandez 19, Kiley Roetcisoender, Riley Dykstra 16, Liv Mellema 9, Emily Mellema 5, Lexi Hernandez 6, Kenadi Fay, Grace Sterk 14.
CLASS 1A GIRLS STATE TOURNAMENT
(With RPI seedings)
#1 LaSalle 50, #8 King’s 27
#4 Cashmere 47, #5 Elma 34
#9 Medical Lake 42, #16 King’s Way Christian 31 (loser out)
#10 Freeman 62, #15 Connell 42 (loser out)
#13 Overlake 44, #12 Granger 33 (loser out)
#3 Lynden Christian 77, #6 Annie Wright 59
#7 Meridian 40, #2 Bellevue Christian 26
#11 Zillah 64, #14 Montesano 41 (loser out)
(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.