You can stop calling the Lynden girls basketball team the “little” Lions because after knocking off defending state champion W.F. West, 66-45, on Saturday in the Class 1A state regionals at Mount Vernon High School, they are officially the “big bad Lions.”
Lynden forced the taller Bobcats into four turnovers to start the game, took a 10-0 lead that became 18-3 before W.F. West scored its first field goal, and then put the clamps on the champs, holding them to their second lowest point total of the season.
“It’s Lynden Lion basketball,” said junior guard Keylie Hershey. “We know what we’re capable of. We felt confident. There was no intimidation.”
For stories and pictures from the 1B, 1A and 2A regionals, be sure to keep checking www.whatcomhoops.com.
The top-ranked Lions improved their record to 21-3 and now get a spot in Thursday’s 5:30 p.m. state quarterfinals in Yakima, where they will take on the winner of Wednesday’s Anacortes-East Valley (Spokane) game.
And whoever Lynden plays, they’ll be taller than the Lions, who could only suit up players between 5-foot-6 and 5-8.
But who cares, when the Lions play an in-your-face team defense that has given up an average of less than 35 points a game in winning their last 11 games, eight of them against playoff teams?
It makes coach Rob Adams proud.
“This is my type of team,” said Adams. “They don’t care who gets the limelight. All they care about is working hard together — win or lose — playing tough together.”
While it’s hard to single out any one defender, the play of 5-8 Anna VanderYacht and 5-6 Samantha Villars on W.F. West’s 6-1 Drea Brumfield … well, stood out. The two helped hold Brumfield to three points. The team defense also held the Bobcats’ leading scorer, Madi Haakenson, to four points.
“We had to hold their bigs with our smalls,” said VanderYacht. And as for seeing her tiny freshman teammate mix it up with the big girl — even outscoring her — VanderYacht got excited. “Sam doesn’t care. She’ll take on anyone.”
As usual, the Lions spread their scoring around with Hershey and Liv Tjoelker scoring 13 points each, VanderYacht driving inside for 10 points and Ruby VanderHaak tossing in nine points from outside. But on a team full of juniors, it was senior Blakley Doerge who provided the dagger.
With W.F. West hanging around in the fourth quarter, Doerge made sure there was no thought of a comeback by firing in three straight 3-pointers as the Lions ran the lead up to 27 with three minutes to go … and all that was left was to empty the benches.
“I told her, ‘you’re shooting for me,’” said Adams of his senior’s long-distance bombs. “I want you to shoot. And if you miss, it’s on me. And she did it. Those were momentum ones.”
And now the big bad Lions will be taking that momentum to Yakima’s SunDome.
Lynden 66, W.F. West 45
W.F. West 14 4 14 13 — 45
Lynden 22 10 16 18 — 66
W.F. West: Maggie Vadala 15, Lexie Roberts, Tizzie Zylstra, Drea Brumfield 3, Madi Mencke, Courtney Bennett 3, Sarah Haakenseon 2, Kyla McCallum 3, Makayla Mencke 5, Annika Waring 8, Thani Henry 2, Madi Haakenson 4.
Lynden: Alexis Holman 2, Liv Tjoelker 13, Anna VanderYacht 10, Blakely Doerge 12, Samantha Villars 4, Keylie Hershey 13, Emmi Tjoelker, Keyna Holleman 3, Kyla Bonsen, Ruby VanderHaak 9, Ashlyn Alexander.
CLASS 2A GIRLS STATE TOURNAMENT
(With RPI seedings)
#14 Sequim 54, #11 Foster 44 (loser out)
#7 Washougal 52, #2 East Valley (Spokane) 45
#3 Clarkston 61, #6 Port Angeles 35
#4 White River 49, #5 Archbishop Murphy 41
#9 Burlington-Edison (19-4) 53, #16 Renton 42 (loser out)
#13 Black Hills 52, #12 Grandview 37 (loser out)
#10 Anacortes 65, #15 North Kitsap 49 (loser out)
#1 Lynden 66, #8 W.F. West 45
(Full schedule and bracket at nwcathletics.com)
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.