2A Boys: Lynden Routs Grandview For Third Straight State Title

Like most little boys shooting baskets on Lynden elementary school playgrounds, they dreamed of winning a state championship together when they got to high school.

A decade later, six of those little boys grew up to not only win a Class 2A state title for Lynden High School but also do something no other Lynden boys have ever done: Win a third straight state crown.

They did it with their underclassman teammates when they overpowered Grandview, 85-54, in the 2A state championship game on Saturday, March 2, in the Yakima SunDome.

 “How do you write something like this?” asked Anthony Canales, one of those six seniors. “I love my teammates so much. What makes it special is knowing all my buddies did it with me.”

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Those six buddies — seniors Canales, Brady Elsner, Charlie Ayres, Ty Holleman, Weston Van Dalen, and Kael Stapleton — have played together since kindergarten.

“I don’t know a better feeling,” said Elsner. “But it’s also kind of sad and emotional because it’s the last one.”

But the Lions made their final season together an historic one. Lynden finishes 24-4, but more importantly won a third straight state title, something no Lynden team or Class 2A team has ever done.

“I’m getting old, but this doesn’t get old,” said Lynden coach Brian Roper, who has now won seven state championships at Lynden including five of the past six. “We knew we were good enough to beat the best, but we also knew there were five teams in the tournament who could win it.”

But there wasn’t a team that could have beaten the Lions on Saturday and especially if it was Grandview. The Greyhounds were the second seed behind Lynden and owned an impressive 25-3 record thanks to their press-and-gun style.

But they ran into the perfect storm — a much taller Lynden team that could go inside, a skilled dribbler in Elsner who negated the press, and a relentless defense that contested every shot — and the storm blew them away.

After a slow first quarter which the Lions led 15-14, Lynden pounded the ball inside to towering posts Brant Heppner, Jack Stapleton, and Ty Holleman. The result was Lynden’s second-highest point total of the season and the most points Grandview has given up all year.

“We knew we wanted to go inside,” said Roper of Lynden’s large height advantage. “It was a tough matchup for Grandview. We’re not the stupidest team in America and tonight we weren’t stupid.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, the Lions also unleashed the tournament’s most feared weapon: Canales.

The 6-foot-4 guard slashed inside and hit five 3-pointers, finishing with a game-high 29 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists, and locking up his third straight tournament MVP award. But there’s more.

Canales, who already is the leading scorer in school history, found out that his final basket as a Lion gave him the single-season scoring record previously owned by Lynden great Derric Croft.

“Anthony is on the Mount Rushmore of Lynden basketball,” said Roper citing Canales’s work ethic and being a great teammate as his greatest strengths.

While Lynden was running wild on offense against the Greyhounds, the Lions were holding Grandview to its lowest point total of the season. With their press negated by point guard Elsner and Lynden dominating the boards, 46-18, there wasn’t much the Greyhounds could do except get ready for baseball and track seasons.

Heppner, who was named to the all-tournament first team, finished with 27 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, and a pair of 3-pointers. Holleman and Stapleton had 8 points and 3 assists each and combined for 15 rebounds. Ayres had 6 points and 3 assists, and Elsner had 6 assists.

“There are not just tears of joy but also of sadness,” said Roper. “This team won’t ever be intact again.” 

Maybe not, but the 2024 Lions made the mark in the history books — together.

TOURNAMENT NOTES: The WIAA does not sanction all-tournament teams, but the media and tournament staff sometimes vote on it. The 2A boys all-tournament first team is Anthony Canales, Lynden (MVP); Marcelino Armendariz, Grandview; Jalen Davis, Bremerton; Cade Orness, North Kitsap; and Brant Heppner, Lynden. The second team is Dennis Johnson, Renton; Koby McClure, Prosser; Davis Fogle, Anacortes; Cameron Draculan, Grandview; Kory McClure, Prosser; and Rich Showki, Sammamish.

Lynden 85, Grandview 54

Lynden          15       19       23       28—85

Grandview    14         4       20       15—54

Lynden: Brady Elsner 4, Weston Van Dalen, Charlie Ayres 6, Kael Stapleton, Dani Bowler, Ty Holleman 8, Gordy Bedlington, Anthony Canales 29, Brant Heppner 27, Ty Jorgenson, Jack Stapleton 8, Spencer Adams 3.

Grandview: Mavryk Bentley 8, Cameron Draculan 15, Eloy Armendariz, Levi Dorsett 2, Francisco Medina 17, Nathan Montes DE Oca, Marcelino Armendariz 12, Titus Jeffrey, Luke Cortez.


At Yakima SunDome

Wednesday, Feb. 28

Bremerton 51, Mark Morris 47 (loser out)

Sammamish 69, Rogers (Spokane) 61 (loser out)

Anacortes 69, Columbia River 56 (loser out)

Prosser 65, Pullman 60 (loser out)

Thursday, Feb. 29

Bremerton 65, Renton 60 

Lynden 58, Sammamish 41

North Kitsap 66, Anacortes 54

Grandview 68, Prosser 64

Friday, March 1

Renton 67, Sammamish 47 (loser out)

Prosser 61, Anacortes 53 (loser out)

Lynden 53, Bremerton 52

Grandview 71, North Kitsap 64

Saturday, March 2

#8 Prosser (21-10) 68, #4 Renton (20-6) 64 (winner fourth, loser sixth)

#3 North Kitsap (23-5) 71, #11 Bremerton (19-8) 48 (winner third, loser fifth)

#1 Lynden (24-4) 85, #2 Grandview (25-4) 54 (winner first, loser second)

Jim Carberry of Whatcom Hoops

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.

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