2A Boys: Lynden To Play For District Title; Bellingham, Sehome Stay Alive

It takes more than one great half to dethrone the king as the Lynden boys basketball team proved by rallying in the second half to defeat Lakewood, 62-53, in the Class 2A District 1 semifinals on Friday, Feb. 9.

The victory moves the two-time defending 2A state champion Lions into the district championship game against Cedarcrest on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. at Mount Vernon High.

Bellingham and Sehome also notched big wins Friday to remain alive in the consolation bracket. The Bayhawks eliminated Burlington-Edison, 71-61, and the Mariners ousted Archbishop Murphy, 60-49.

NEXT UP SATURDAY: It’s the busiest day of the playoff. The Class 1A schools will have their district championships and consolation games at Lynden High. Lynden Christian and Meridian will play for the boys title at 3:30 and LC and Nooksack Valley square off again for the girls title at 4:45 p.m. In 2A girls, Lynden and Sehome face off in the semifinals at Mount Vernon at 7:15 and Squalicum hosts Sedro-Woolley in a loser-out contest at 5:30 p.m. And in 1B girls, Lummi Nation hosts a tri-district play-in game  For all the action, check out Whatcom Hoops.

Both Bellingham and Sehome will continue loser-out play on Monday. The Mariners will face Lakewood at 5:30 p.m. and the Bayhawks take on Anacortes (18-5) at 7:15, both at Mount Vernon.

Here’s the results from Friday night’s action:

Big Second Half Propels Lynden Past Lakewood, 62-53

The favored Lions knew they’d be in a catfight with the feisty Cougars but no one expected Lakewood to play perhaps its best quarter of basketball all season and go up by 13 at halftime.

The Cougars did it by hitting nine 3-pointers in the first half, including seven during a 29-11 second-quarter blitz.

“I was glad for halftime,” said Lynden coach Brian Roper, whose squad improved to 19-4. “We were reeling.”

But the big-game Lions hadn’t won four of the past five state championships by letting a halftime deficit scare them.

“Our locker room is right next to theirs and we heard them celebrating at halftime,” said senior Brady Elsner. “We said, ‘We have another half to play.’”

And play they did. When junior Jack Stapleton hit a 3-pointer six minutes into the third quarter, Lynden had erased Lakewood’s lead with a 14-0 run.

“It wasn’t any magical game plan,” said Roper, whose squad held the Cougars to only 14 points and two 3s in the second half. “We told them, they (the Cougars) can’t keep shooting like that. It was the will of our guys to make stops. We were dialed in defensively.”

But the Cougars didn’t roll over either.

The two teams battled back and forth until two minutes were left when Stapleton’s fastbreak layup gave the Lions a 54-52 lead. Lakewood countered with a free throw with just over a minute remaining, but senior Charlie Ayres tossed in a huge 3-pointer with 45 seconds left to boost the Lynden lead to 57-53.

Then it was just a matter of hitting clutch free throws, which the Lions did. Senior Weston Van Dalen sank two, senior Anthony Canales hit three, and then it was the Lions turn to celebrate … well … not yet.

Because District 1 only gets two 2A state berths this year, semifinal winners don’t get automatic trips to state as they have in the past. The Lions will still have to win Wednesday’s championship game against Cedarcrest (19-3) or win the consolation final against the survivor of Bellingham, Sehome, Anacortes, and Lakewood for the second spot.

 A big reason Lynden will be playing for the district title is the play of its “other guys.” With the Cougars throwing a variety of defense at Lynden’s top scorers — Canales and junior Brant Heppner — the Lions needed offense from others players, and they got it.

Stapleton had a huge game with 23 points, nine of them in the Lions’ 20-point third quarter that got them back in the game. Ayres, who is known more for his lock-down defense, had 10 points and two big 3-pointers.

“We knew they like to take away the top scorers,” said Stapleton, who also played a big part on defense by shutting out Lakewood star Caleb Greenland in the second half. “I knew I’d have to knock down some shots.”

“The other guys stepped up,” said Roper. “Jack and Charlie made their shots.”

And then there was Elsner, the pass-first, shoot-only-when-I-have-to point guard. He only had 5 points, but his 8 assists epitomized Lynden’s unselfish play. It also gave him 165 assists for the season, breaking the school record of 160 set by Rick DeGraaff in 1977-78. Elsner also had 5 steals.

“We threw water on him,” said Stapleton after the game. OK, so there was a little celebration.

Canales would finish with 10 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists, and Heppner had 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. Another big reason the Lions won the game was because they won the war on the boards, outrebounding the smaller Cougars, 35-26.

Lynden 62, Lakewood 53

Lakewood     10       29         6         8—53

Lynden          15       11       20       16—62

Lakewood: Stoddard 12, Rucker 15, Isam 9, Espe 6, Stacey, Irvin 4, Cleveland 7.

Lynden: Elsner 5, Van Dalen 2, Ayres 10, K. Stapleton, Bowler, Holleman 4, Canales 10, Heppner 8, J. Stapleton 23.

Bellingham Advances By Beating Burlington, 71-61

“Survive and advance,” said Bellingham coach Brad McKay and the Bayhawks did just that by outlasting Burlington-Edison, 71-61, in a loser-out contest.

Bellingham, which improved to 12-10, did it by using balanced scoring and holding the Tigers down in the third quarter to take command.

Senior Wyatt Stephan had 24 points, 11 of them coming in the fourth quarter including five clutch free throws. He was joined in double figures by junior Kincade VanHouten with 16 points and a pair of 3-pointers, sophomore Myllo Wright with a career-high 13 points, and senior Jesse Harward with 10 points.

“Wyatt was great against a box-and-one,” said McKay. “And our team defense in the third (period) changed the game in our favor.”

With the win, the Bayhawks advance in consolation play and will meet up with Anacortes in a loser-out contest. The Seahawks bested Bellingham, 68-44, on Jan. 11. Friday’s loss eliminates Burlington-Edison.

Bellingham 71, Burlington-Edison 61

Burlington-Edison       15       19       10       17—61

Bellingham                  19       17       16       19—71

Burlington-Edison: Heigert 21, Whitlock 10, Forthun 8, Larson 2, Feskov 7, Betz 9, Belisle 4.

Bellingham: Stephan 24, Van Hofwegen 4, Togagae 2, Craig 2, VanHouten 16, Je. Harward 10, Wright 13, Jo. Harward.

Sehome Outlasts Archbishop Murphy, 60-49

A defensive struggle turned into a fourth-quarter shootout and fortunately for Sehome, the Mariners had more firepower as they knocked out Archbishop Murphy, 60-49, in a loser-out contest.

Proving most of the offense was sophomore Nolan Wright, who had a game-high 27 points, including 16 in the fourth period when the Mariners outscored the Wildcats, 28-24.

Up until then, Sehome’s defense had held Archbishop Murphy to 25 points. But the Wildcats unleashed seven 3-pointers in the fourth period to make it interesting.

Sophomore Cole Turrell added 11 points for the Mariners, senior Austin McKay had 9 points, and senior Sawyer Fleming had 6 points.

Sehome (11-11) now takes on Lakewood (13-9), a team the Mariners beat, 61-51, on Jan. 5. Friday’s loss ended the Wildcats’ season at 7-14.

Sehome 60, Archbishop Murphy 49

Archbishop Murphy      8         6        11       24—49

Sehome                        10       15         7       28—60

Archbishop Murphy: Usui 10, Ir. Smith 23, Blanchard 10, Schnarre 2, Sears, Rife 4, Huri.

Sehome: Wright 27, McLin, Fleming 6, McAfee, McKay 9, Tanovan 3, C. Duckworth 4, Turrell 11.


Friday, Feb. 9

Consolation games

At Sehome

Bellingham 71, Burlington-Edison 61 (loser out)

Sehome 60, Archbishop Murphy 49 (loser out)


At Mount Vernon

Cedarcrest 74, Anacortes 65

Lynden 62, Lakewood 53

Consolation games

Monday, Feb. 12

At Mount Vernon

Sehome vs. Lakewood, 5:30 p.m. (loser out)

Bellingham vs. Anacortes, 7:15 p.m. (loser out)

Wednesday, Feb. 14

At Mount Vernon

Championship game

Lynden vs. Cedarcrest, 7:15 p.m. (winner first, to state regionals)

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.

You can support our student-athletes, teams, and schools
by using the businesses that support Whatcom Hoops.

Want to advertise your business? Click here for advertising options.