Because it was the same result that landed them in the same place, it may seem like it’s the same Lynden Christian girls basketball team that will be playing Saturday afternoon for the Class 1A state championship for the second year in a row.
But this is a new team with a new look, even if Friday’s 58-34 trouncing in the semifinals is exactly what the Lyncs did last year on the way to winning their second state title in three years.
They will get the chance to make it three crowns in four years when they play undefeated LaSalle in the 3 p.m. championship game Saturday in the Yakima SunDome.
“A lot of girls have played in the championship game,” said LC coach Brady Bomber of the six returnees from last year’s undefeated squad. “But a lot have not. It’s an opportunity for more of them to make memories they’ll remember the rest of their lives.”
For updated stories and pictures from the 1A and 2A state tournaments, visit www.whatcomhoops.com. And for more pictures, be sure to check out the Whatcom Hoops Facebook page.
Last year, in a battle of unbeatens, the Lyncs pummeled the Cardinals, 64-40, in the semifinals. This year, LC (22-3) came in third-seeded and Medical Lake (19-7) was ninth-seeded, but the 24-point difference was the same.
“At the end of last year when we talked to them, we said if we improve individually and as a team, we can make it back here again (in the championship game),” Bomber said of his returnees. “I could tell, they had a different look in their eyes tonight.”
The returnees — especially junior Riley Dykstra and seniors Grace Sterk and Isabela Hernandez — led the way. Dykstra had 12 points on 5 of 6 shooting and a team-high nine rebounds. Sterk added 12 points and five rebounds, and Hernandez had seven points and six rebounds.
Sterk and Dykstra hit two buckets each and Liv Mellema added a jumper from the corner to start the third quarter, turning a 28-18 halftime lead into a 38-18 rout. With the defense holding the Cardinals in single digits each quarter, there was no chance for a comeback.
But while the returnees often get the spotlight, what makes this team different from last year are the newcomers, and no newcomer has made a bigger splash than freshman Libby Stump.
The 5-foot-7 guard who is known more for her physical defense than her offense, led the Lyncs with 14 points, hitting all five of her shots including a 3-pointer. And what was more impressive than how many points she scored was when she scored them.
With Lynden Christian trying to find its rhythm after missing five free throws and just as many lay-ins in the first period, Stump came in to start the second period.
She immediately scored on a breakaway after Emily Mellema’s steal. Then Stump hit a 3-pointer and three more driving layups, all in three minutes to give LC a 15-point cushion.
“That was really fun,” said Stump. “I’m living the freshman dream. I’ve been dreaming of this season for so long. I’m just happy to have an opportunity to contribute.”
Bomber was impressed by his fiery freshman.
“She said, ‘I’m going to make some plays in an important part of the game,’” said Bomber. “She wasn’t afraid of the moment.”
Neither were the other new faces: sophomores Lexi Hernandez and Kiley Roetcisoender, who along with Stump and returnees junior Liv Mellema, sophomore Emily Mellema and senior Josie Bocci give the Lyncs a nine-girl rotation.
“We’ll be fresh tomorrow,” said Bomber. “We have depth and good teammates who don’t care who gets the glory.”
While Lynden Christian will be back in the title game, it’s situation also is new.
Last year, the Lyncs were the undefeated favorites. This year, that pressure falls on the shoulders of the LaSalle Lightning, who escaped with a 41-35 victory over Cashmere and all-American Hailey Van Lith in Friday’s other semifinal.
Lynden Christian 58, Medical Lake 34
Lynden Christian 13 15 17 13 — 58
Medical Lake 9 9 8 8 — 34
Lynden Christian: Libby Stump 14, Josie Bocci 3, Isabela Hernandez 7, Kiley Roetcisoender, Riley Dykstra 12, Liv Mellema 3, Emily Mellema 3, Lexi Hernandez 4, Kenadi Fay, Paige TeVelde, Sydney Wiersma, Grace Sterk 12.
Medical Lake: Emily Munson 5, Jaycee Oliver 2, Jessica Lohman 15, Laxyn Farmen 2, Lexie Redell 8, Ellie Haas, Madison Munden, Ally Duncan, Maris Tuck, Ellie Acord, Emma Maxwell 2, Kirsten Gilbert
Shooting: FG—LC 22-45 48.9, ML 12-41 29.3; FT—LC 10-21 47.6, ML 7-9 77.8; 3 PT—LC 4-11 36.4 (Bocci 1, Dykstra 1, Stump 1, E. Mellema 1), ML 3-18 (Lohman 2, Redell 1). Rebounds: LC 39 (Dykstra 9), ML 25 (Lohman 9). Fouls: LC 16, ML 17 (Acord). Assists: LC 9 (E. Mellema 4), ML 3 (Redell 2). Turnovers: LC 4, ML 13. Blocks: LC 0, ML 2. Steals: LC 10 (E. Mellema 4), ML 1.
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, vs. #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)
At Yakima SunDome
State play-in games (Wednesday, Feb. 27)
Annie Wright 71, Zillah 67 (loser out)
Bellevue Christian 50, Freeman 43 (loser out)
Elma 42, Overlake 30 (loser out)
Medical Lake 49, King’s 36 (loser out)
Quarterfinals (Thursday, Feb. 28)
Cashmere 62, Annie Wright 41
LaSalle 61, Bellevue Christian 21
Lynden Christian 55, Elma 25
Medical Lake 41, Meridian 33
Consolation semifinals (Friday, March 1)
Bellevue Christian 65, Annie Wright 36 (loser out)
Elma 50, Meridian 47 (loser out)
Semifinals (Friday, March 1)
LaSalle 41, Cashmere 35
Lynden Christian 58, Medical Lake 34
Fourth-sixth place game (Saturday)
Bellevue Christian (23-4) vs. Elma (23-4), 8 a.m. (winner fourth, loser sixth)
Consolation final (Saturday)
Cashmere (22-3) vs. Medical Lake (20-7), 11:15 a.m. (winner third, loser fifth)
Championship game (Saturday)
Lynden Christian (23-3) vs. LaSalle (26-0), 3 p.m. (winner first, loser second)
(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.