2A Boys State: Lynden Again In Semis After Stopping Sammamish

The Lynden boys basketball team has been there and done that, so a slow start didn’t faze the Lions as they took care of business in the Class 2A state quarterfinals by beating Sammamish, 58-41, on Thursday, Feb. 29, in the Yakima SunDome.

With the victory, top-seeded Lynden (22-4) advances to the semifinals against Bremerton on Friday at 7:15 p.m. The victory also assures the Lions of a top-six finish and another trophy.

Of course, that’s nothing new for Lynden, which has won the past two state championships, four of the past five state titles, and been in the semifinals (and finished third or higher) in 10 of the past 11 state tournaments.

So when the Lions uncharacteristically trailed by an almost embarrassing 8-7 score after the first quarter, it was no big deal. They just came out and scored 20 points in each of the next two quarters to quell any notion the 10th-seeded Redhawks had of an upset.

“It wasn’t our best night offensively, but we were dialed in defensively,” Lynden coach Brian Roper said after the Lions held the Redhawks to their second-lowest point total of the season. “Sammamish is a good team. I thought our guys were up to the task.”

For the latest game stories and photos from all our state teams, keep checking Whatcom Hoops throughout the day.

On offense, Lynden fed the beast, who on Thursday was junior Brant Heppner. The 6-foot-6 post who is known for his deadly 3-point shooting, muscled inside for 25 points and 8 rebounds. Oh, and he also hit three 3s.

“He was a beast inside,” said Roper. “When he got the ball, he went up with great power. And he really nullified a kid who had 14 and 11 (points and rebounds) yesterday.” That would be Keith Kariuki, who was held to 7 points and 6 rebounds.

Also putting up beastly numbers was senior Anthony Canales, the state tournament MVP the past two years. He had 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds despite being knocked to the floor at least as many times.

Helping the Lions’ cause were senior Ty Holleman with 8 points, junior Jack Stapleton with 8 rebounds, senior Brady Elsner with 6 assists, and senior Charlie Ayres with 4 assists.

As for going for the three-peat, something no Lynden team or Class 2A team has ever done, the Lions aren’t even going there — yet.

“We don’t talk about repeating at all,” said Heppner. “It’s a new team and we try to control what we can control. Tonight we got the nerves out. We talk about it being a 32-minute grind and just staying the course.”

Asked if there was any pressure going for an unprecedented third straight state title, Heppner’s response was simple.


Good answer, especially when there’s 11th-seeded Bremerton, fresh off an upset of fourth seed Renton and sixth seed Mark Morris, looking to take down another favorite. It didn’t take Roper long to remind the Lions of that.

“It’s time to flip the switch,” the coach said. “We’ll enjoy this (Thursday’s victory) through dinner and then get ready for Bremerton.”

Sammamish (19-9), meanwhile, will play Renton in a loser-out consolation game Friday at 12:15 p.m.

Lynden 58, Sammamish 41

Sammamish     8       11       13         9—41

Lynden             7       20       20       11—58

Sammamish: Jacob Layton 6, Rakin Showki 16, Anthony Boddie 2, Rayan Showki 3, Barry Morrissette 2, Nate Pelto, Keith Kariuki 7, Hudson Reed 3, Abdulrazak Khamis, Jamil Thomas, Logan Arthur, Noah Bruels 2.

Lynden: Brady Elsner 2, Weston Van Dalen 3, Charlie Ayres, Kael Stapleton, Dani Bowler 2, Ty Holleman 8, Gordy Bedlington, Spencer Adams, Anthony Canales 14, Brant Heppner 25, Ty Jorgenson, Jack Stapleton 4.


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

#4 Renton (19-6) vs. #10 Sammamish (19-9), 12:15 p.m. (loser out)

#5 Anacortes (21-7) vs. #8 Prosser (18-10), 2 p.m. (loser out)

#11 Bremerton (19-6) vs. #1 (22-4), 7:15 p.m.

#3 North Kitsap vs. #2 Grandview (24-3), 9 p.m.

Saturday, March 2

Consolation game, 9:30 a.m. (winner fourth, loser sixth)

Consolation final, 1 p.m. (winner third, loser fifth)

Championship game, 3 p.m. (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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