It was literally a tall order, but it didn’t matter to the Lynden boys basketball team because the Lions aren’t afraid of heights.
And after holding on to beat R.A. Long, 46-44, in a Class 2A state semifinal on Friday, March 4, the Lions are going to reach even higher when they play for the state championship on Saturday at 3 p.m.
“We always play together, not as individuals,” said sophomore Anthony Canales. “This is what happens when you stick together. Now we have one more team to beat.”
That team is fourth-seed Pullman, which shocked No.1-ranked North Kitsap in the other semifinal on Friday. When they square off in the Yakima Valley SunDome at 3 p.m. Saturday, Lynden will be shooting for its 11 boys basketball state title.
“This is a dream come true,” said senior Jordan Medcalf, who was a starter two years ago when Lynden missed its chance at a third straight state title when it lost to North Kitsap in the semis. “It’s something we’ve wanted to do since our sophomore year.”
Be sure to visit WhatcomHoops.com for stories and photos from the other state games.
On Friday, the second-seeded Lions, who improved to 22-2, beat the third-seeded Lumberjacks from Longview, but it wasn’t easy. Not only did R.A. Long sport a 21-2 record coming into the game, but it also featured two 6-foot-8 post players.
Lynden countered with a pair of 6-3 wings — Medcalf and Canales — who made the Lions fly. Each had 19 points, and Canales added 11 rebounds. Perhaps not surprisingly, the scrappy Lions finished with just one less rebound than the taller Lumberjacks, 32-31.
“No one told Anthony Canales that he is a sophomore playing in the state tournament,” said Lynden coach Brian Roper.
Again, it was defense that carried the day for Lynden. R.A. Long had eight games of 80 or more points this season and was never held below 50 points … until Friday.
“It was a defensive, slug-it-out game,” said Roper. “I thought our guys showed grit and toughness.”
The Lions showed that grit and toughness in the game’s final minute. After seeing a seven-point, fourth-quarter lead disappear, Lynden had the ball with the score tied at 44.
Medcalf got the ball and when he drove to the rim, one of the Lumberjacks’ big men tried to block his shot. But the crafty senior shoveled a pass to Canales underneath for a layup and the lead with 21 seconds left.
R.A. Long had two more chances to tie or win it. But Medcalf stole the ball with four seconds left and, after a couple of missed Lynden free throws, the Lumberjacks tried a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer that also missed.
And now, the Lions will have to do it all again. Pullman comes in with a sparkling 23-2 record and features a 6-8 player and a 6-10 player.
But as Roper always says, “We’ll give it our best shot.”
Lynden 46, R.A. Long 44
R.A. Long 12 14 8 10—44
Lynden 13 14 6 13—46
R.A. Long: Aaron Ofstun 12, Cavin Holden 10, Stephen Rooklidge 8, Jamon Harris 12, Jaxon Cook, Lonnie Brown Jr. 2, Jake Gabbard.
Lynden: Kaleo Jandoc 2, Coston Parcher 4, Jordan Medcalf 19, Max Moore, Trey Smiley, Dawson Adams, Anthony Canales 19, Kobe Baar 2.
Class 2A boys state tournament
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2
Prosser 72, White River 67 (loser out)
Port Angeles 63, Franklin Pierce 53 (loser out)
Tumwater 66, Grandview 47 (loser out)
Sehome 42, Lakewood 40 (loser out)
THURSDAY, MARCH 3
Pullman 78, Prosser 48
North Kitsap 75, Port Angeles 58
R.A. Long 61, Tumwater 54
Lynden 72, Sehome 60
FRIDAY, MARCH 4
Port Angeles 70, Prosser 68 (loser out)
Tumwater 62, Sehome 47 (loser out)
Pullman 69, North Kitsap 53
Lynden 46, R.A. Long 44
SATURDAY, MARCH 5
Tumwater (21-6) vs. Port Angeles (20-7), 9:30 a.m. (winner fourth, loser sixth)
North Kitsap (23-4) vs. R.A. Long (21-3), 1 p.m. (winner third, loser fifth)
Pullman (23-2) vs. Lynden (22-2), 3 p.m. (winner first, loser second)
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.