It was only right that after battling all season long, the Lynden Christian and Nooksack Valley girls would decide the state championship this way. In overtime. On a final shot.
With the Class 1A state title on the line, senior Libby Stump sank a baseline jumper over three defenders with six seconds left to give the Lyncs a dramatic 57-56 victory over the Pioneers on Saturday, March 5, in the Yakima Valley SunDome.
“This is the best feeling in the entire world,” said Stump, whose final bucket capped a 35-point night and earned her the MVP award for the tournament. “It’s a dream-come-true ending.”
Be sure to check WhatcomHoops.com on Monday for more stories looking back at all the exciting state tournament moments and memories.
No game is decided by one play, but this was about as close as they come. For 32 minutes, the two best Class 1A girls basketball teams competed as they had twice this season. And like those two contests, which they split — Nooksack Valley won the regular-season game and LC won the district final — there was no decision.
There were 12 ties in regulation, the last coming with 12 seconds left on Stump’s 3-point play. The Pioneers held the lead much of the way but could never pull away. And in the fourth quarter, the teams went back-and-forth with neither able to lead by more than three points over the final seven and a half minutes.
Be sure to visit WhatcomHoops.com for stories and photos from the other state games.
So they went to a four-minute overtime. Stump’s two jumpers and a Grace Hintz bucket gave LC a four-point lead with a minute and a half left and it looked like the Lyncs would successfully defend the title they won in equally dramatic fashion in 2020.
But the Pioneers were equally tough. Hallie Kamphouse hit another of her long-distance 3-pointers and Lainey Kimball got inside for a basket and suddenly, Nooksack Valley held the lead with 23 seconds left.
LC took a timeout with 10 seconds left and everyone knew who would get the ball. All game long, Stump had taken the inexperienced Lyncs on her back and despite a bloodied nose and the constant attention of Nooksack’s best defenders, she still hit 11 of her 20 shots.
She managed to escape all-state guard Devin Coppinger for a brief second to get the in-bounds pass and dribbled to the left baseline hounded by Coppinger. The 5-foot-8 Stump then pulled up with McKenna Wichers and Lainey Kimball blocking the way and elevated over the two 5-10 girls.
Four hands in her face. The clock running out. The entire season riding on one shot. The shot.
The Pioneers had just enough time to inbound the ball, but Tehya Moore’s halfcourt heave was way short and an instant classic was over.
“Libby made an unbelievable shot,” said a gracious Nooksack Valley coach Shane Wichers. “We couldn’t play better defense. Every time we played LC it came down to the last minute. Whoever had the ball last … and tonight they did.”
Said Stump of making the shot that will go down as one of the biggest in LC’s history: “I don’t know if I was necessarily open. I’m just thankful it went in.”
Stump’s 35 points were only part of her remarkable night. Despite being one of the shortest players on the court, she had 7 rebounds. And with everything on the line, she made 10 of 11 free throws.
For LC, freshman sensation Hintz capped an outstanding tournament with 17 points and 7 rebounds and joined Stump on the all-tournament first team.
No other Lync scored more than three points, but coach Brady Bomber praised the other six players — Demi Dykstra, Lexi Kaptein, Charley Dykstra, Taryn Herwerden, Daisy Poag, and Reganne Arnold — for their exceptional defensive efforts and team play.
“Libby and Grace are special offensive players,” said Bomber, who has now won four state titles since taking over the Lynden Christian program in 2015. “But you also saw the six other girls create opportunities for them to carry the scoring load. The hallmark of the team is to star in your role. We needed every one of them and it was just enough.”
The Lyncs finished the year with a 22-4 record despite losing their entire starting lineup to graduation. The state championship was Lynden Christian’s 14th and its fifth in the past nine years.
Lost in the midst of the Lynden Christian celebration — which had started more than an hour earlier after the LC boys also won their state championship in exciting fashion — was the heartbreak of the Pioneers, who had come so close to winning the school’s first state championship.
As always, they were led by Coppinger, who finished with 14 points and was also named to the all-tournament first team. Kamphouse had 11 points and 6 rebounds and was named to the all-tournament second team.
Wichers added 9 points, sophomore Tana Hoekema came off the bench to score 8 points and snag 7 rebounds, and Kimball had 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals.
“This is a great group of girls on and off the court,” said Moore, one of the senior leaders, through the tears. “To get as far as we did was really important to us.”
Less than a half-hour after suffering a devastating loss, coach Wichers tried to keep it all in perspective.
“We told the girls that the trophy gets dusty, but you never forget the people you play with,” he said. “We had an unbelievable season.”
And not just by finishing 20-4 on the court and reaching the state championship game for only the second time in school history. Like all teams, the Pioneers had to endure all the COVID effects, and the communities of Nooksack, Everson, and Sumas had to deal with the effects of severe flooding just months ago.
The cheers, tears, and hugs from family and fans that greeted the Nooksack Valley players as they left the locker room after the game gave new meaning to the term “Valley Strong.”
“My heart breaks for them,” said Bomber. “I have so much respect for Shane and his team. It was two teams that played hard. It was an incredible basketball game. They’ll talk about this game for a long time.”
And about The Shot.
Lynden Christian 57, Nooksack Valley 56
Lynden Christian 10 15 8 16 8—57
Nooksack Valley 14 11 11 13 7—56
Lynden Christian: Libby Stump 35, Demi Dykstra 2, Taryn Herwerden, Lexi Kaptein, Grace Hintz 17, Charley Dykstra, Daisy Poag 3, Reganne Arnold.
Nooksack Valley: Tehya Moore 5, Devin Coppinger 14, Hallie Kamphouse 11, McKenna Wichers 9, Taylor Lentz, Lainey Kimball 6, Ellie Van Berkum, Tana Hoekema 8, Kaylee Anderson 3.
Class 1A state tournament
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2
Freeman 43, King’s 40 (loser out)
Colville 39, La Center 26 (loser out)
Zillah 57, Toppenish 41 (loser out)
Wapato 68, Seattle Academy 58 (loser out)
THURSDAY, MARCH 3
Montesano 40, Freeman 26
Lynden Christian 44, Colville 34
Cashmere 50, Zillah 45
Nooksack Valley 50, Wapato 37
FRIDAY, MARCH 4
Freeman 46, Colville 39 (loser out)
Wapato 54, Zillah 42 (loser out)
Lynden Christian 57, Montesano 32
Nooksack Valley 60, Cashmere 38
SATURDAY, MARCH 5
Wapato 64, Freeman 60 (winner fourth, loser sixth)
Cashmere 41, Montesano 33 (winner third, loser fifth)
Lynden Christian 57, Nooksack Valley 56 (winner first, loser second)