If you’re going to defend your district title then you’d better play some serious defense, and that’s just what the Lynden girls basketball team did Monday night, Feb. 17, at Mount Vernon High School.
The No.1-ranked Lions lived up to their ranking by shutting down Archbishop Murphy, 53-31, in the Class 2A District 1/2 semifinals. Not only did it put Lynden in the district championship game against Burlington-Edison on Friday at 7:30 p.m., but it guaranteed the Lions a spot in the regional round of the state tournament.
The Sehome girls, however, weren’t able to continue their state quest as the Mariners fell to Anacortes, 50-38, Monday in consolation play at Mount Vernon Christian and were eliminated from the district tournament.
Lions Have Faith, Dominate Archbishop Murphy
Coach Rob Adams knew before the game that the key for Lynden (21-1) would be controlling the Wildcats’ inside game — particularly senior forward Julia Lucas. Well, his Lions did more than control the inside; they dominated the Wildcats (13-9).
“We were very locked in mentally,” said Lynden’s defensive whiz, junior guard Anna VanderYacht. “The whole team had each other’s back. And Faith did an awesome job.”
Faith Baar led the Lynden “bigs” with 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. But more importantly, the 6-foot-1 junior post, along with fellow juniors Madison Canales and Riley Anderson, held Lucas to just one field goal and six points.
“We felt we needed to defend and rebound, to destroy inside the paint,” said Baar.
“Our defense played great,” said Adams, who in addition to Baar, Canales and Anderson also praised the inside defense of seniors Keyna Holleman and Alexis Holman. “We needed all five of them.”
While the Lynden defense was dominating from the beginning — the Lions held the Wildcats to 13 first-half points — it took a while for the Lynden offense to get humming.
Senior guards Liv Tjoelker and Keylie Hershey, who led Lynden with 12 points apiece, each hit a 3-pointer in the 17-point third quarter as the Lions steadily pulled away.
Tjoelker also had 6 rebounds and 3 assists, Hershey had a team-high 4 steals, and VanderYacht added 8 rebounds to the Lions’ inside dominance.
While qualifying for state obviously means a lot to all the players, it is something very special for Baar and Canales, who were on last year’s state squad but couldn’t play because of season-ending injuries.
“It was difficult to watch them,” said Baar of last year’s state experience. “This is way more fun than cheering them on.”
Lynden 53, Archbishop Murphy 31
Archbishop Murphy 6 7 8 10—31
Lynden 16 8 17 12—53
Archbishop Murphy: Taylor Campbell 3, Alexa Chiangpradit 4, Lily Rojas 1, Chloe Jurdana 2, Tamiah Joseph 9, Hannah Humphrey, Taylor Reed 4, Lily Kirshner, Clair Esping 2, Julia Lucas 6, Tatum Russell, Rose Gabalis.
Lynden: Alexis Holman 2, Liv Tjoelker 12, Anna VanderYacht 7, Adia Newcomb 2, Faith Baar 10, Madison Canales, Keylie Hershey 12, Keyna Holleman, Ashtyn VanDalen, Ruby VanderHaak 6, Ashlyn Alexander, Riley Anderson 2.
Mariners Come Out Cold, Eliminated By Anacortes
Sehome (14-9) only managed two free throws in the first quarter, and couldn’t overcome the slow start as the Mariners were eliminated by Northwest Conference rival Anacortes (9-14).
Junior guard Kaylee Wilson led the No.21 Mariners with 11 points, and senior wing Frannie Fleming came off the bench to score 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers as Sehome tried to rally in the second half.
Sophomore wing Ava Lunny added 7 points and senior post Mikayla Wefer had 6 points, but without injured leading scorer Aspen Garrison, Sehome lacked its offensive punch for the second straight game.
“We had a tough time scoring again,” said Sehome coach Anye Turner. “Anacortes did a good job defensively, and was very physical.”
Turner praised all his seniors — Wefer, Fleming, Jessica Melvin and Lauren Ellsworth — for their effort all season.
“Our seniors have been incredible all season; I wish we could have taken it further for them,” said Turner. “Mikayla and Jessica have been great ambassadors for the program, and I can’t thank them enough.”
Anacortes 50, Sehome 38
Anacortes 10 17 10 13—50
Sehome 2 12 14 10—38
Anacortes: E. Kennedy, K. Hudson 15, E. White 2, C. Kerr 13, R. Pickle 2, L. South, C. Schnabel, A. Johnson 5, A. Hargrove 13.
Sehome: Kaylee Wilson 11, Ava Lunny 7, Ava Collins 3, Frannie Fleming 10, Keira Woolman, Jessica Melvin, Lauren Ellsworth 1, Mikayla Wefer 6, Ella Gates.
CLASS 2A DISTRICT 1/2
Wednesday, Feb. 12
Cedarcrest 66, Blaine 24 (loser out)
Sehome 42, Sedro-Woolley 35 (loser out)
Anacortes 55, Bellingham 36 (loser out)
Sammamish 65, Mountlake Terrace 44 (loser out)
Friday, Feb. 14
Sammamish 49, Liberty 44
Burlington-Edison 55, Cedarcrest 37
Archbishop Murphy 56, Sehome 42
Lynden 59, Anacortes 33
Monday, Feb. 17
Burlington-Edison 66, Sammamish 44
Lynden 53, Archbishop Murphy 31
Liberty 62, Cedarcrest 41 (loser out)
Anacortes 50, Sehome 38 (loser out)
Wednesday, Feb. 19
Archbishop Murphy vs. Liberty at Mount Vernon Christian, 6 p.m. (loser out)
Anacortes vs. Sammamish at Mount Vernon Christian, 7:30 p.m. (loser out)
Friday, Feb. 21
Consolation final at Mount Vernon HS, 6 p.m. (winner third, to regionals; loser out)
Lynden vs. Burlington-Edison at Mount Vernon HS, 7:30 p.m. (winner first, loser second; both to regionals)
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.