The Lynden girls basketball team is out to win the Class 2A state championship, and the Lions aren’t going to let anyone stand in their way.
“We don’t care who we play,” said Keylie Hershey after the top-ranked Lions throttled Burlington-Edison, 53-28, in a semifinal Friday afternoon, March 6, in the Yakima SunDome. “This is what you dream about, especially being a senior.”
The dream can come true Saturday night, when the Lions take on eighth-seeded West Valley (Spokane) in the state championship game. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. in the first of what will be three straight state title games involving Whatcom County teams.
And, yes, this is the same West Valley (Spokane) that Lynden beat in regionals, 48-36.
“I don’t think we’ll have any problem getting them up for the game,” said Lynden coach Rob Adams.
Follow all the tournament action on WhatcomHoops.com and on the Whatcom Hoops Facebook page.
The Lions were certainly up to play Burlington-Edison for the third time this season. The Lions had already beaten the Tigers by 10 during the regular season and by 23 in the district playoffs.
And if familiarity breeds contempt, it can also breed defensive struggles on the basketball court. The Lions never let Burlington get into its offense, forced the Tigers into 21 turnovers, and held the Northwest Conference rivals to single digits in each of the first three quarters.
It took a while for Lynden’s offense to get going, but Hershey hit a 3-pointer and two free throws midway through the second quarter and Maddie Canales scored inside just before the halftime buzzer to give the Lions a 23-10 lead that already looked insurmountable.
A 19-point fourth quarter and a stingy defense that held Burlington to its lowest point total in the season — by far — salted away the victory.
“It’s hard to beat a good team three times, and they are a good team,” said Hershey, who finished with 9 points. “But what did they have? Twenty-five points? That’s 25 too many. We wanted to pitch a shutout. Defense wins championships.”
While Lynden was close to pitching a shutout, the Lions’ offense didn’t get in gear until late in the game.
Besides Hershey, Lynden’s other big scorers — Ruby VanderHaak and Liv Tjoelker — also were held in check in the defensive battle. VanderHaak had 11 points and two of her “dagger” 3-pointers, and Tjoelker had 8 points to go along with her 5 steals.
But the underclassmen are on the mission with the seniors, and they came through Friday.
Junior post Faith Baar had another dominating game in the paint with a game-high 13 points and 12 rebounds as the Lions won the battle of the boards, 53-28.
Junior forward Anna VanderYacht had 6 points and continued to make life miserable for the other team’s top scoring threats by shutting out Burlington point guard Amey Rainaud-Hinds.
“We call it the ‘Anna VanderYacht experience,’” said Adams of her defensive pressure. “It’s like going to an amusement park … but a really, really bad one.”
And junior post Canales came off the bench to provide energy as well as 4 points and 5 rebounds.
“We definitely wanted to give our full effort today,” said Baar, who missed all of last year with an injury. “We want to win it for the seniors.”
They’ll get their chance Saturday evening.
Tournament tidbits: VanderHaak was awarded the game’s sportsmanship medal for Lynden. … Lynden’s Ashtyn Van Dalen was featured on KOMO-TV on Wednesday. If you missed it on the tube, check out the station’s website:
Lynden 53, Burlington-Edison 28
Burlington-Edison 4 6 7 11—28
Lynden 9 14 11 19—53
Burlington-Edison: Hannah Sayer 6, Miranda Maskell 8, Katie King 2, Jordyn Smith, Emma Smith 3, Sydney Reisner 3, Gabrielle MacKenzie 2, Brylee Axelson-Ney 2, Amey Rainaud-Hinds, Grace Dalton 2.
Lynden: Alexis Holman, Liv Tjoelker 8, Anna VanderYacht 6, Adia Newcomb, Faith Baar 13, Madison Canales 4, Keylie Hershey 9, Keyna Holleman 2, Ashtyn VanDalen, Ruby VanderHaak 11, Ashlyn Alexander, Riley Anderson.
Class 2A Girls State Tournament
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4
Port Angeles 68, Clarkston 58 (loser out)
Ellensburg 73, Liberty (Issaquah) 52 (loser out)
East Valley 44, White River 44 (loser out)
West Valley (Spokane) 67, Black Hills 36 (loser out)
THURSDAY, MARCH 5
Burlington-Edison 50, Port Angeles 45
Lynden 62, Ellensburg 44
Tumwater 43, East Valley (Yakima) 38
West Valley (Spokane) 44, W.F. West 43
FRIDAY, MARCH 6
Ellensburg 52, Port Angeles 46 (loser out)
East Valley (Yakima) 52, W.F. West 41 (loser out)
Lynden 53, Burlington-Edison 28
West Valley (Spokane) 43, Tumwater 40
SATURDAY, MARCH 7
#2 Ellensburg vs. #13 East Valley (Yakima), 8 a.m. (winner fourth, loser sixth)
#5 Burlington-Edison vs. #3 Tumwater, 11:15 a.m. (winner third, loser fifth)
#1 Lynden vs. #8 West Valley (Spokane), 5 p.m. (winner first, loser second)