Their season records are the same, but that’s about the only thing the Lynden Christian and Annie Wright girls basketball teams will have in common when they square off in the 1A state regionals Saturday at noon at Mount Vernon High School.
How different are the two 20-3 teams? For starters:
* Lynden Christian is the defending state champion with most of its veteran team returning. Annie Wright is led by a sophomore and a freshman.
For previews of all the state regional games involving our Whatcom County teams, be sure to keep checking www.whatcomhoops.com.
* LC has more state titles (12), state appearances (33) and state victories (98) than any other 1A program. Annie Wright has never been to a state tournament.
* LC’s leading scorers are 6-foot, 6-1 and 5-11. Annie Wright’s leading scorers are 5-foot-4 and 5-5.
All those differences will be settled on the court Saturday when the No.3-ranked Lyncs and sixth-ranked Gators of Tacoma play for a spot in the state quarterfinals in Yakima’s SunDome on Thursday, Feb. 28. The loser also will advance to Yakima, but will have to play a loser-out game on Wednesday, Feb. 27.
Here’s a look at both teams:
Annie Wright scouting report: There’s no secret here. The Gators have two young, talented guards — 5-foot-4 sophomore Julianna Walker and 5-5 freshman Jazmyn “Jazzy” Stone — who do all their scoring. Using pressure defense and long-distance shooting, Walker averages 35 points a game and Stone averages 20. The Gators aren’t tall or deep, but with two Division I prospects, they are still a dangerous team. Their only three losses have been to 4A Wilson of Tacoma, and twice to Bellevue Christian, the No.2-ranked 1A team.
Lynden Christian scouting report: After a late-season lull that saw the Lyncs lose three of four games, the defending state champs have found their identity again in running up double-digit victories over three straight state-qualifying teams. Senior forward Grace Sterk and senior guard Isabela Hernandez average 14 points a game scoring inside and outside, and Riley Dykstra averages 10 points a game while usually defending the other team’s best player. But it’s the Lyncs’ defense and rebounding that make them a threat to make another state run.
LC coach Brady Bomber: “This group is separate and unique from last season. We’ve come into this post-season run being who we want to be. We’re not the favorite in this tournament by any means, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Game outlook: The playoffs are all about matchups and this game is a prime example. Will the taller, more experienced Lyncs be able to withstand the quicker, run-and-gun Gators? The big difference may be that LC doesn’t mind playing fast, but Annie Wright can’t stay with LC in a halfcourt game. It may be closer than expected — and it may not if Walker and Stone are cold — but never bet against Lynden Christian in the playoffs.
CLASS 1A GIRLS STATE TOURNAMENT
(With RPI seedings)
#1 LaSalle (23-0) vs. #8 King’s (20-5) at Ellensburg High School, 6 p.m.
#4 Cashmere (20-2) vs. #5 Elma (21-2) at Wenatchee High School, 6 p.m.
#9 Medical Lake (17-6) vs. #16 King’s Way Christian (16-7) at West Valley (Spokane) High School, 6 p.m. (loser out)
#10 Freeman (17-5) vs. #15 Connell (17-6) at West Valley (Spokane) High School, 6 p.m. (loser out)
#12 Granger (16-7) vs. #13 Overlake (17-4) at Davis High School, 8 p.m. (loser out)
#3 Lynden Christian (20-3) vs. #6 Annie Wright (20-3) at Mount Vernon High School, noon
#2 Bellevue Christian (21-2) vs. #7 Meridian (18-5) at Issaquah High School, 2 p.m.
#11 Zillah (17-6) vs. #14 Montesano (15-9) at Davis High School, 4 p.m. (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.