It wasn’t easy, but you know it never is when you play a team with “Cashmere” on its jersey.
Still, the Lynden Christian girls basketball team matched the Bulldogs’ physicality and tenaciousness to win their Class 1A state regional game, 61-51, at Mount Vernon High School on Saturday, Feb. 25.
With the win, the second-seeded Lyncs (23-3) move directly to the Yakima SunDome to play in a state quarterfinal on Thursday, March 2, at 2 p.m. against the winner of Wednesday’s Bellevue Christian-Freeman game.
Check out Whatcom Hoops for stories and photos from all of Friday’s and Saturday’s regional action.
“This was a great game for us,” said LC coach Brady Bomber. “It felt like a state game.”
Of course it did. This was the third time Lynden Christian has played Cashmere in the past five state tournaments. But none of them were easy. In fact, the previous two were by two and three points against the Hailey Van Lith-led Bulldogs in state championship games in 2018 and 2020.
The Lyncs won those two games the same way they won Saturday. By playing physical defense.
They held the Bulldogs to just 14 points through the first quarter and a half and when freshman Ella Fritts made a great pass to sophomore Tabitha DeJong for a layup, the Lyncs had bolted to a 13-point lead midway through the second period.
But they aren’t called the Bulldogs for nothing. Seventh-seeded Cashmere never let the Lyncs stretch the lead beyond 15 and kept scrapping to within single digits. But the LC defense would let them get no closer than eight.
“They hit some big shots,” said Bomber. “But collectively our defensive effort is what we’ll need to compete at this level.”
Sophomore Grace Hintz and senior Demi Dykstra again led the Lyncs with 19 and 14 points, respectively, and the two sank a pair of free throws each in the final minute to ice the game. But the backcourt duo known more for their scoring were more exciting to talk about the team’s defense.
“This feels super great,” said Hintz, who scored seven straight to spark LC’s second-quarter run. “They were physical but we were ready. I love these type of games. We have some defensive grit.”
Dykstra agreed. The only remaining member of the 2020 state championship team — “I just sat the bench,” she said of her freshman experience — the slim 5-9 point guard had two huge blocks in the final three minutes, one of them a soaring swat to take away a Cashmere fastbreak bucket.
“We knew it would be tough … it’s a state game, so you have to have high energy,” said the two-time state champion. “We really focused a lot on stopping them.”
Joining Hintz and Dykstra in double figures was senior Reganne Arnold with 10 points. Senior Daisy Poag and DeJong added 6 points each.
And how does the team feel about heading back to Yakima?
“We’re all really excited,” said Dykstra. “We’ve been there before, and we just want three more games together.”
The Lyncs will be joined by our other Class 1A girls team, top-seeded Nooksack Valley, which won its regional game on Friday, 65-16, against Bellevue Christian. The Pioneers will also play in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. against the winner of the Annie Wright-Cashmere game.
Lynden Christian 61, Cashmere 51
Cashmere 10 13 17 11—51
Lynden Christian 13 19 21 8—61
Cashmere: Brianna Talley 9, Allie McKenna 4, Katie Piepel 4, Ellie Bessonette 14, Maddie Hammond 15, Kaitlyn Bjorklund 5.
Lynden Christian: Demi Dykstra 14, Reganne Arnold 10, Taryn Herwerden 5, Daisy Poag 6, Grace Hintz 19, Alexie Hagen, Ella Fritts 1, Tabitha DeJong 6, Allison Shumate.
CLASS 1A GIRLS STATE REGIONALS
Friday, Feb. 24
#1 Nooksack Valley 65, #8 Bellevue Christian 16 (both to state tournament)
#9 Freeman 47, #16 Hoquiam 19 (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#15 Annie Wright 48, #10 College Place 40 (winner to state tournament, loser out)
Saturday, Feb. 25
#12 Seattle Academy 56, #13 Seton Catholic 49 (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#3 Wapato 63, #6 Deer Park 48 (both to state tournament)
#2 Lynden Christian 61, #7 Cashmere 51 (both to state tournament)
#5 King’s 51, #4 Montesano 37 (both to state tournament)
#11 Zillah 72, #14 Sultan 33 (winner to state tournament, loser out)
At Yakima SunDome
Wednesday, March 1
Zillah (18-7) vs. Deer Park (20-3) 9 a.m. (loser out)
Annie Wright (18-8) vs. Cashmere (15-5), 10:25 a.m. (loser out)
Seattle Academy (16-6) vs. Montesano (21-4), 12:15 p.m. (loser out)
Freeman (19-5) vs. Bellevue Christian (21-2), 2 p.m. (loser out)
Thursday, March 1
King’s (22-3) vs. Zillah-Deer Park winner, 9 a.m.
Nooksack Valley (24-1) vs. Cashmere-Annie Wright winner, 10:30 a.m.
Wapato (23-1) vs. Seattle Academy-Montesano winner, 12:15 p.m.
Lynden Christian (23-3) vs. Bellevue Christian-Freeman winner, 2 p.m.
Friday, March 3
Consolation game, 9 a.m. (loser out)
Consolation game, 10:30 a.m. (loser out)
Semifinal, 3:45 p.m.
Semifinal, 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 4
Consolation game, 8 a.m. (winner fourth, loser sixth)
Consolation final, 11:15 a.m. (winner third, loser fifth)
Championship game, 3 p.m. (winner first, loser second)
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.