Years from now, when you think back to the 2019 Lynden boys basketball team, you might picture Christian Zamora’s sweet 3-pointer or Clayton Whitman’s thunderous flying dunk.
But this year’s version of the Lions might be better pictured by Blake Silves running back to the court, cotton swabbing stuffed up his bloodied nose, telling the coach to put him back into the game.
That’s the kind of toughness these Lions have shown during a playoff run that included Friday’s 52-40 victory over Pullman in the Class 2A state semifinals and again put them in the state championship game in Yakima’s SunDome.
Now Lynden (25-1) will have a chance to make it two state titles in a row when the Lions take on Selah (20-5) on Saturday at 9 p.m. in front of the Vikings’ hometown crowd.
For updated stories and pictures from the 1A and 2A state tournaments, visit www.whatcomhoops.com. And for more pictures, be sure to check out the Whatcom Hoops Facebook page.
“I’m proud of our guys for the way they’ve battled,” said Lynden coach Brian Roper. “It’s easy to play when the ball goes in all the time. But you don’t get points for style. Our guys defend and play tough.”
There’s no doubt that these Lions defend.
In their six playoff games, they haven’t allowed an opponent more than 40 points. Friday they put on another clinic, causing 15 turnovers and limiting the Greyhounds (21-6) to two fastbreak points and a chilly two of 15 from 3-point range.
And these Lions are tough, and no one proved that better than Silves. The 6-foot guard, one of the smallest players on the team, spent most of his evening hounding Greyhound 6-5 star Tim Watts into a two-point performance.
The rest of the game he spent in the trainer’s room after getting bashed in the nose — not once, but twice — and getting swabbing put up his nose to stop the bleeding. But his medical leave was short, and when he ran back to the bench, he was ready to go back in.
Fortunately, by then the outcome had been decided, and he was able to rest with the rest of the starters.
“He’s tougher than nails,” said Roper of his shooting guard, who also contributed seven points. “He limited their all-state guard to two points. He’s a battler.”
“That probably would have broken someone else’s nose … twice,” said Lynden’s all-state forward, who again was a highlight reel with 28 points on drives, 3-pointers and another slam dunk. “He’s on their best guy, and he plays so hard.”
Silves didn’t want to make a big deal about it, noting that it was only damaged cartilage, not a broken nose. Yeah, but it still hurts.
“I’m playing no matter what,” the senior said of Saturday’s championship game. “We’re really excited. We’re all brothers … and it’s one last game that we’ve got together. And we’ll see what happens.”
Zamora had another all-around solid game, hitting three 3-pointers good for 12 points, and adding six rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals.
James Marsh also had six rebounds, and point guard Kobe Elsner again ran the efficient offense with only one turnover in 28 minutes.
Lynden 52, Pullman 40
Pullman 10 12 7 11 — 40
Lynden 16 12 10 14 — 52
Pullman: Jacob Wells 16, Isaiah Strong 3, Konner Kinkade 10, Tim Watts 2, Ethan Kramer 9, Ty Hendrickson, Evan Strong, James Pitzer.
Lynden: Kobe Elsner, Blake Silves 7, James Marsh 2, Clayton Whitman 28, Brock Heppner 3, Carson Bode, Dakota Baar, Christian Zamora 12.
Shooting: FG—Pull 15-35 42.9, Lyn 18-43 41.9; FT— Pull 8-11 72.7, Lyn 9-17 52.9; 3 PT—Pull 2-15 13.3 (Kinkade 2), Lyn 7-20 35.0 (Zamora 3, Silves 1, Whitman 2, Heppner 1). Rebounds: Pull 24 (I. Strong 6, Kramer 6), Lyn 25 (Zamora 6, Marsh 6). Fouls: Pull 12, Lyn 13. Assists: Pull 5 (I. Strong 2, Watts 2), Lyn 9 (Zamora 3). Turnovers: Pull 15, Lyn 9. Blocks: Pull 2 (I. Strong 1, Watts 1), Lyn 3 (Whitman 2). Steals: Pull 1 (Wells 1), Lyn 7 (Elsner 2, Zamora 2, Whitman 2).
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
At Yakima SunDome
State play-in games (Wednesday)
Clarkston 49, Liberty (Issaquah) 41 (loser out)
Columbia River 49, Anacortes 37 (loser out)
Renton 57, Burlington-Edison 52 (loser out)
Fife 52, Franklin Pierce 43 (loser out)
Pullman 64, Clarkston 52 OT
Lynden 52, Columbia River 40
Renton 56, North Kitsap 51
Selah 72, Fife 59
Consolation semifinals (Friday)
Clarkston 47, Columbia River 40 (loser out)
North Kitsap 69, Fife 56 (loser out)
Lynden 52, Pullman 40
Selah 61, Renton 56
Fourth-sixth place game (Saturday)
Clarkston (17-9) vs. North Kitsap (23-5), 8 a.m. (winner fourth, loser sixth)
Consolation final (Saturday)
Pullman (21-6) vs. Renton (21-10), 11:15 a.m. (winner third, loser fifth)
Championship game (Saturday)
Lynden (25-1) vs. Selah (20-5), 9 p.m. (winner first, loser second)
(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.