2A Boys Regional: Lynden Tops Prosser On Record Night, 74-59

When the guy who breaks the Lynden boys basketball all-time scoring record is more concerned about the team’s next game, you know why the top-ranked Lions are a threat to win their third straight Class 2A state championship.

Lynden took the first step at state by corralling the eighth-seeded Prosser Mustangs, 74-59, in a regional contest Friday night, Feb. 23, before an almost full Jake Maberry Gymnasium at Lynden High School.

With the victory, the Lions (21-4) advance directly to the state quarterfinals in the Yakima SunDome. They will play Thursday, Feb. 29, at 5:30 p.m. against the winner of Wednesday’s loser-out game between seventh seed Rogers of Spokane and the winner Saturday afternoon’s game between W.F. West and Sammamish.

And as Anthony Canales announced to his Lynden teammates as they were putting the final touches on Friday’s victory, “We’re just getting started!”

For the Essential Fans Guide to the Class 2A boys and girls state tournaments, check out Fans Guide.

As he has throughout his four-year career, Canales led the Lions with 35 points. His 23 first-half points not only propelled Lynden to a 41-30 lead at intermission, but gave him the school’s all-time scoring record. He would finish the night with 1,634 points breaking Christian Zamora’s mark of 1,620 set in 2019.

“It was our final home game in the Jake,” said Canales, one of six seniors on the team. “This give us confidence (going to Yakima). We need a boost every once in a while.”

As for breaking the scoring record, Canales said he’d been talking with Zamora, who was his neighbor, friend, and someone Canales looked up to.

“He’s been a big inspiration for me,” said the all-state guard. “But I really wasn’t thinking about it during the game.”

During the game, the Lions were focused on stopping the high-flying Mustangs (17-9), who had put up 90 points in their last district game and were used to scoring more than 70. But not on Friday.

With defender deluxe Charlie Ayres shadowing Prosser senior Kory McClure and a variety of Lions focusing on younger brother Koby McClure, Lynden held the Mustangs to one of their lowest point totals of the season.

“That’s a good team,” Lynden coach Brian Roper said of Prosser. “But it showed the will of our kids. I like our chemistry, focus, and desire to win together. We talk about being a star in your role, and they’ve embraced that.”

Indeed. Seniors Ayres and Brady Elsner combined for only one point but were immeasurably important. Ayres held the Prosser star to 7 points and Elsner had 13 assists at point guard despite the usual Yakima Valley pressure from the Mustangs.

Meanwhile, Canales and junior Brant Heppner took care of the scoring load. Canales was brilliant with three of his five 3-pointers and 14 of his points coming in the crucial second quarter when the Lions stretched a one-point lead to 11. He also had 7 rebounds and 4 assists.

And when the Mustangs were contemplating a second-half comeback, the 6-foot-6 Heppner went inside for 10 of his 21 points to start the third quarter and keep the Lions in control.

“He was determined,” Roper said of his all-league forward, who made nine of 10 shots from the field and also had 13 rebounds. “We were able to get it inside, and he made them pay.”

To their credit, the Mustangs (17-9), who will be playing Pullman in a loser-out contest Wednesday in the SunDome, kept within a dozen points until the end when back-to-back dunks by Canales and senior Ty Holleman iced the game. Holleman and junior Jack Stapleton would finish with 7 points each, and Stapleton added 4 blocks.

And now it’s on to Yakima, the Lions’ home away from home. They’ll be going for a third straight state title, something no Lynden team has done, and their fifth state crown in the past six tournaments.

“We knew it would be a battle,” said Heppner of Friday’s game. “This puts us right where we want to be, where we expect to be.”

Lynden 74, Prosser 59

Prosser          19       11       15       14—59

Lynden          20       21       19       14—74

Prosser: Cortes 2, Kob. McClure 21, Shaw 2, Rivera, Kor. McClure 8, Peters 13, Phillips 13.

Lynden: Elsner 1, Van Dalen, Ayres, K. Stapleton 3, Bowler 2, Holleman 7, Bedlington, Adams, Canales 35, Heppner 19, J. Stapleton 7.


Friday, Feb. 23

Lynden 74, Prosser 59 (both to state tournament)

Pullman 61, Enumclaw 44 (winner to state tournament, loser out)

Grandview 72, Rogers (Spokane) 63 (both to state tournament)

North Kitsap 58, Mark Morris 48 (both to state tournament)

Saturday, Feb. 24

Bremerton 51, R.A. Long 43 (winner to state tournament, loser out)

Sammamish 70, W.F. West 63 (winner to state tournament, loser out)

Renton 73, Anacortes Anacortes 66 (both to state tournament)

Columbia River 55, White River 52 (winner to state tournament, loser out)

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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