2A Girls: Lynden Shocks Ellensburg To Win State Title

No team is unbeatable, and for 75 straight games, the Ellensburg girls basketball squad couldn’t be beat. But the two-time defending state champions met their match on Saturday, March 2, and the Bulldogs are no longer defending champions.

That honor goes to the Lynden girls, who shocked Ellensburg and anybody who hadn’t seen the Lions play this season by defeating the invincible Bulldogs, 43-40, to win the Class 2A state championship in the Yakima SunDome.

“Seventy-five in a row … nobody does that,” said Lynden coach Rob Adams, who has now guided the Lions to four state titles yet has never had even one undefeated season. “For us to slay the Beast; we’ll take it.”

The Beast has had some close calls, most notably an overtime win over Prosser in district just two weeks ago. But right from the start, the top-seeded Bulldogs knew they were in for a catfight with the second-seeded Lions.

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

Lynden put the clamps on the champs, holding them to seven points in the first period and going up by six in the first quarter. Of course, the Bulldogs hadn’t won 75 in a row by rolling over and playing dead.

They still trailed by seven with five minutes left in the game, but when Brooke Ravet hit a 3-pointer to cap an eight-point run, Ellensburg was up, 40-39, with 1:40 left in the game.

“During a time out, I told them to play to win, not to lose,” said Adams.

Lynden junior Kiki York sank one of two free throws to tie the game and after trading turnovers, Lynden got the ball out of bounds with 38 seconds left.

Time to run your most reliable out-of-bounds set play that you’ve run a thousand times and that always works in game situations, right? Not according to Adams.

“We’ve only practiced it and never run it in a game,” said Adams. “We used it in 2012 to win a game. But they executed it to Haylee and it’s over.”

That would be Haylee Koetje, one of the team’s four seniors who endured the COVID year as freshmen, three head coaches in four seasons, and two unsuccessful appearances at state.

But the 5-foot-10 guard got the ball in the key and her jumper went in to give the Lions a two-point lead. Ellensburg turned the ball over one last time with eight seconds left and when sophomore Payton Mills sank a free throw with six seconds remaining, the game — and the streak — really were over.

“They’ve come a long way,” Adams said of his team. “We knew we’d have to keep it in the 40s. Credit our kids. We call it a 32-minute grind.”

For Koetje, beating the Bulldogs and winning the state title were so much sweeter doing it in front of the enthusiastic Lynden fans and with her fellow seniors — Mallary Villars, Kalanie Newcomb, and Mya VanderYacht.

“This is just so exciting, it’s the best,” she said with the green celebration confetti still in her hair. “To see the whole town here, it’s amazing. It was so much fun to do it especially with my best friends. They’re my favorite people ever.”

While the Lynden seniors had endured a lot during their four years, one Lion was putting the rest of the state on notice for the upcoming years.

“It feels great,” said freshman guard Finley Parcher, who led Lynden with 12 points and 8 rebounds and who earned second-team all-tournament honors. “I came here last year and watched the (Lynden) boys win it. This is a dream.”

As for Saturday’s game against a 24-0 team considered among the best in the state regardless of classification, Parcher didn’t even bother smiling. She was serious:  “We had our ups and downs (during the game), but we held our composure. We grinded it out. And we’ll be back next year.”

There weren’t many offensive stars for the Lions in the defensive struggle besides Parcher, who had most of her points inside when the Bulldogs tried — unsuccessfully — to go man-to-man in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore Rian Stephan, Koetje and Newcomb had 6 points each with Newcomb sinking two of Lynden’s three 3-pointers. York and Mills, who was plagued by foul trouble, collected 5 points each. Mills earned the tournament MVP award thanks to her stellar play in Lynden’s first two victories.

But everyone was a defensive star as the Lions held Ellensburg to its lowest point total of the year and only gave up 10 field goals for the game and limited the powerful Bulldogs to only 30 percent shooting from the field. Most of the Bulldogs’ offense came from the free throw line, where the Bulldogs sank 17 shots.

All of which leaves the question: Is this 27-1 team the best in Lynden’s history? The Lions’ other championship teams were in 2009, 2016, and 2020, with the last one going 26-1 and beating Ellensburg on the way to a state title.

(Note: While that was Ellensburg’s last state loss, Whatcom Hoops and others have reported it was the Bulldogs’ last loss before the streak started. Our apologies for the incorrect information. Ellensburg lost twice in 2021.)

While there may be debate about the greatest, two things are for sure:

1. Beating Ellensburg was no fluke — as if beating a 75-0 team could ever be consider a fluke. The Lions’ other 2A victims include third-place Clarkston by 18, fourth-place White River by 36, fifth-place Prosser by 29 in a holiday tournament, and sixth-place Archbishop Murphy by 21 in district. Lynden’s only loss was to 1A state champion Nooksack Valley early in the season.

2. Don’t be surprised if the Lions start their own state streak. Besides starters Parcher, Mills, and York, Lynden returns Stephan and freshman Hermanutz, both of whom played valuable minutes in Yakima.

Which means with Ellensburg’s streak now over, perhaps there is another Beast in the Class 2A jungle.

TOURNAMENT NOTES: The WIAA does not sanction all-tournament teams, but the media and tournament staff sometimes vote on it. The 2A girls all-tournament first team is Payton Mills, Lynden (MVP); Jamison Philip, Ellensburg; Julia Dalan, W.F. West; Deidra Phillips, Prosser; and Ella Leavitt, Clarkston. The second team is Finley Parcher, Lynden; Lay’lee Dixon, Prosser; Layne Rogel, Ellensburg; Kendall Wallace, Clarkston; and Vivian Kingston, White River.

Lynden 43, Ellensburg 40

Ellensburg      7       15       9        9—40

Lynden         13         8       9       13—43

Ellensburg: Ellie Markus 1, Molly Moffat, Ella Armstrong, Jamison Philip 6, Layne Rogel 13, Daphne Mahre, Alana Marrs 6, Brooke Ravet 3, Bella Standish 11.

Lynden: Mallary Villars 2, Kalanie Newcomb 6, Mya VanderYacht, Rian Stephan 6, Lexi Hermanutz 1, Haylee Koetje 6, Kiki York 5, Finley Parcher 12, Payton Mills 5.


At Yakima SunDome

Wednesday, Feb. 28

W.F. West 61, West Valley (Spokane) 40 (loser out)

White River 56, Sammamish 32 (loser out)

Clarkston 62, Enumclaw 32 (loser out)

Columbia River 51, Ridgefield 47 (loser out)

Thursday, Feb. 29

Prosser 57, W.F. West 41

Ellensburg 68, White River 49

Clarkston 52, Archbishop Murphy 42

Lynden 50, Columbia River 34

Friday, March 1

White River 57, W.F. West 53 (loser out)

Archbishop Murphy 46, Columbia River 32 (loser out)

Ellensburg 44, Prosser 31

Lynden 61, Clarkston 43

Saturday, March 4

#7 White River (23-5) 47, #6 Archbishop Murphy (21-7) 42 (winner fourth, loser sixth)

#5 Clarkston (26-2) 64, #4 Prosser (21-7) 38 (winner third, loser fifth)

#2 Lynden (27-1) 43, #1 Ellensburg (24-1) 40 (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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