The Lynden boys basketball team knows what it takes to win a state championship. And now the Lions have the opportunity to do it again.
Defending state champion Lynden used defense and a third-quarter barrage to run away from Prosser, 60-42, in the Class 2A state semifinals Friday, March 3, in the Yakima SunDome.
And now the Lions (22-4) will be going for their fourth state title in the past five tournaments when they face Mark Morris on Saturday at 9 p.m.
Check Whatcom Hoops for the latest stories and photos from the state tournaments in Yakima.
“When we were getting our butts kicked by Sehome a month ago, there weren’t a lot of people who would pick us to be here,” said Lynden coach Brian Roper, who has taken the Lions to the state finals for the seventh time. “But there’s not a big celebration (after Friday’s win). They know we have a tough game ahead of us.”
Fourth seed Mark Morris reached the championship game by knocking off undefeated and top-ranked Pullman on Friday, and the Monarchs also have a 12-point victory in the state regionals over Sehome, a team that beat Lynden by 22 earlier in the season.
But the sixth-seeded Lions don’t seem to let the past interfere with their mission once they get to Yakima. It looked like Friday’s semifinal might be a close one since the Mustangs lost to Lynden by only five points in a non-league matchup in December. But the Lions made sure it wasn’t close.
First, they corraled the Mustangs with their vice-like defense, which held Prosser to its lowest point production of the year.
“We’re excited,” said senior Kobe Baar, one of eight players who also were on Lynden’s state championship football team. “We thought it would be tough, but we wanted to come out with energy. We wanted to focus on making them work for their shots.”
Still, the Lions only held a seven-point lead at the half as their offense started slowly. But not once the second half started. Before fans could get back from the concession stands, Baar had hit two 3-pointers and sophomore Brant Heppner tossed in another and the Lions were up by 16 and rolling.
“We want to focus on the first three minutes of the second half,” said Roper. “They must have thought the first 30 seconds. It was a great way to open the half.”
When the smoke had cleared, Lynden had put together a 26-point third quarter and would eventually stretch the lead to 24 before the benches emptied in the fourth period.
The Lions finished with 12 3-pointers with Baar and Heppner collecting four each and senior Coston Parcher tossing in three. Baar and junior Anthony Canales led the way with 16 points each, Heppner finished with 14 points, and Parcher had 9.
Baar also had 7 rebounds and 4 assists, Canales had 6 rebounds and 5 assists, and Parcher and senior Trey Smiley had 4 assists each and combined for 9 rebounds.
Lynden 60, Prosser 42
Lynden 15 9 26 10—60
Prosser 10 7 12 13—42
Lynden: Brady Elsner, Coston Parcher 9, Cameron Petersen 4, Alexander Matthews, Elijah Hanenburg, Weston VanDalen, Trey Smiley 1, Charlie Ayres, Anthony Canales 16, Brant Heppner 14, Kobe Baar 16, Daniel Bowler.
Prosser: JJ Reyes 4, Koby McClure 12, Kory McClure 8, Issak Hultberg 6, Kevin Flores 7, Cheia Veloz, Jaden Peters, Killian Phillips, Trenton Russell 1, Carson Bailey 4.
CLASS 2A STATE TOURNAMENT
At Yakima Valley SunDome
Wednesday, March 1
Round of 12
#11 Tumwater 56, #3 Renton 53 (loser out)
#10 Enumclaw 63, #2 Anacortes 41 (loser out)
#13 North Kitsap 58, #5 Sehome 55 (loser out)
#8 RA Long 56, #9 West Valley (Spokane) 39 (loser out)
Thursday, March 2
#4 Mark Morris 60, Tumwater 51
#1 Pullman 54, Enumclaw 40
#6 Lynden 68, North Kitsap 34
#7 Prosser 47, RA Long 44
Friday, March 3
Tumwater 60, Enumclaw 42 (loser out)
North Kitsap 57, RA Long 55 (loser out)
Mark Morris 52, Pullman 49
Lynden 60, Prosser 42
Saturday, March 4
Tumwater (21-6) vs. North Kitsap (20-8), 8 a.m. (winner fourth, loser sixth)
Pullman (25-1) vs. Prosser (20-5), 11:15 a.m. (winner third, loser fifth)
Mark Morris (25-2) vs. Lynden (23-4), 9 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.