OK, the Lynden boys basketball team didn’t play a “perfect” first quarter. They did give up a layup on a loose ball. And they did miss five free throws. And …
… and when you have to nit-pic about perfection, you know it was a pretty good night as the Lions came out dominating on offense and defense in crushing Franklin Pierce, 71-34, in the Class 2A state regionals Saturday at Mount Vernon High School.
The top-ranked Lions improved to 23-1 and will now head to Yakima, where they will play in the state quarterfinals Thursday at 10:30 a.m. against Wednesday’s winner between Anacortes and Columbia River.
“That’s our home away from home,” said Clayton Whitman of the SunDome, where the Lions won the 2A title last year. “We’ve been ready for this the whole season.”
For stories and pictures from the 1B, 1A and 2A regionals, be sure to keep checking www.whatcomhoops.com.
But before they enjoy the Eastern Washington sunshine, let the Lions bask in the glory of Saturday’s demolition of the eighth-seeded Cardinals, a team that came into the game with a sparkling record of 23-3, including nine games where they scored 80 or more points.
Then came the first quarter against Lynden.
With the Lions’ vicious man-to-man defense covering every shooter and stealing pass after pass, it took Franklin Pierce five and a half minutes before a lucky rebound turned into an easy layup for their first points … and only points of the period.
When the buzzer sounded, Lynden led 18-2 and all that was left was to see if the Cardinals would reach double figures. They did, but their 34 points was their lowest total of the season.
“We came out strong and took it to them,” said senior Christian Zamora. “It’s all about our defense. We’re very confident right now.”
Maybe it’s time to stop mentioning that Lynden is known for its explosive offensive and recognize that the Lions have been winning lately with an equally impressive defense. In their last three playoff games, they’ve given up 38, 35 and now 34 points — all against teams ranked in the top 10.
“The guys came out with a lot of fight,” said Lynden coach Brian Roper. “Defensively, we really locked down.”
As they have all season, Zamora and Whitman led the way on offense, scoring 20 and 19 points, respectively. They didn’t need any more help to outscore Franklin Pierce, but Dakota Baar added 9 points off the bench.
“We’re just enjoying the journey,” said Roper of his team of 10 seniors. “Our guys really like each other. There’s going to be a sadness when it’s over because they just enjoy being around each other.”
Lynden 71, Franklin Pierce 34
Franklin Pierce 2 13 11 8 — 34
Lynden 18 20 17 16 — 71
Franklin Pierce: Abraham Konan 5, John Barbee 8, Jalen Barbee, Tannyr Thomas 5, Toney Brown 8, Clandell Quinland 4, Jermaine Prunty, Brandon Olive, DeMarco Gregory, Daylen Lambert 1, Jabril Thomas Stokes 3.
Lynden: Kobe Elsner, Blake Silves 6, James Marsh 3, Clayton Whitman 19, Brock Heppner 3, Carson Bode 5, Eli VanderHaak, Dakota Baar 9, Carter Parcher, Christian Zamora 20, Liam Hanenburg 6.
CLASS 2A BOYS STATE TOURNAMENT
(With RPI seedings)
#3 North Kitsap 59, #6 Clarkston 51
#10 Anacortes 44, #15 Black Hills 38 (loser out)
#14 Liberty (Issaquah) 49, #11 Steilacoom 48 (loser out)
#13 Renton 55, #12 Mark Morris 53 (loser out)
#9 Fife 51, #16 Olympic 45 (loser out)
#7 Selah 68, #2 Columbia River 61
#5 Pullman 69, #4 Burlington-Edison 68
#1 Lynden 71, #8 Franklin Pierce 34
(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.