At the beginning of the season, Lynden coach Vic Wolffis walked his girls basketball team over to where the 2020 Class 2A state championship banner hung in Jake Maberry Gymnasium and reminded the squad that only one of them had a part in that state title.
“You inherited it,” he told the girls. “Now what are you going to do to defend it?”
The Lions answered that question with a resounding 50-26 victory over Sequim in the Class 2A state regionals on Friday night, Feb. 25, at Mount Vernon High School.
And now the defending champions are going back to Yakima to defend their title. With Friday’s victory in the loser-out contest, the 12th-seeded Lions move to the first round of the state tournament in the SunDome and will play fourth-seed W.F. West in another loser-out contest on Wednesday at 12:15 p.m.
“It’s been my dream to play on that court,” said junior Chloe Wittenberg. “It’s crazy. I’ve always wanted to be there.”
Sophomore Mallary Villars said the victory proved the Lions (16-6) deserved to defend their title in person.
“Everyone doubted us,” said Villars of the young Lions club that sports nine sophomores and freshmen. “We proved them wrong.”
Using the motto they wear on their warmup shirts — “We Defend” — the Lions’ defense held the Wolves to three points in the first quarter to take control.
The lead stayed around 10 in the first half as Lynden stayed cold from the outside, but kept Sequim cold from everywhere.
When the Lions held the Wolves to four points in the third quarter, the lead swelled to more than 20 and the only question was when both teams would empty their benches. The loss ended 13th-seeded Sequim’s season at 19-5.
“Our shots weren’t going down, but we pushed through,” said Wittenberg, who along with Villars had 7 points.
Junior Adia Newcomb, the only remaining player from the 2020 championship team, led the Lions with 16 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter that got their offense going.
Sophomore Haylee Koetje had 8 points, including six in the third-quarter run that put the game away, and senior Claire DeVries and freshman Kiki York had 6 points each.
“They have overachieved other people’s expectations,” said Wolffis. “They are extremely gritty. And they’re a lot of fun.”
And so was Friday’s game, at least according to one youngster.
“That was the most fun ever,” said Villars.
Lynden 50, Sequim 26
Sequim 3 10 4 9—26
Lynden 16 8 14 12—50
Sequim: Jordan Kidd 3, Addie Smith, Hannah Bates 2, Jolene Vaara 10, Hannah Wagner, Michaela Green 6, Kaitlyn Bloomenrader, Taryn Johnson 5, Sammie Bacon, Libby Turella, Lauryn Stephens, Dani Herman, Bobbie Nixon, Jelissa Julmist.
Lynden: Kamryn Hermanutz, Mya VanderYacht, Hannah Sauer, Ella Selcho, Karlee Holman, Mallary Villars 7, Claire DeVries 6, Adia Newcomb 16, Haylee Koetje 8, Kiki York 6, Chloe Wittenberg 7, Melanie Anderson.
CLASS 2A GIRLS
Friday, Feb. 25
#11 Prosser 75,#14 Enumclaw 55 (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#12 Lynden 50, #13 Sequim 26 (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#5 Archbishop Murphy 37, #4 W.F. West 36, 8 p.m. (both to state)
#10 White River 39, #15 Sammamish 20 (winner to state tournament, loser out)
Saturday, Feb. 26
#3 Hudson’s Bay 58, #6 Port Angeles 47 (both to state tournament)
#2 Ellensburg 56, #7 Washougal 31 (both to state tournament)
#8 Burlington-Edison 52, #1 Tumwater 47 (both to state)
#9 West Valley (Spokane) 66, #16 North Kitsap 33 (winner to state tournament, loser out)
At Yakima SunDome
Wednesday, March 2
Prosser (18-6) vs. Port Angeles (17-5), 9 a.m. (loser out)
White River (20-4) vs. Washougal (16-5), 10:30 a.m. (loser out)
Lynden (16-6) vs. W.F. West (19-5), 12:15 p.m. (loser out)
West Valley (Spokane) (21-2) vs. Tumwater (22-2), 2 p.m. (loser out)
Thursday, March 3
Prosser-Port Angeles winner vs. Archbishop Murphy (14-6), 9 a.m.
White River-Washougal winner vs. Burlington-Edison (17-7), 10:30 a.m.
Lynden-W.F. West winner vs. Hudson’s Bay (18-3), 12:15 p.m.
West Valley (Spokane)-Tumwater winner vs. Ellensburg (23-0), 2 p.m.
Friday, March 4
Consolation game, 9 a.m. (loser out)
Consolation game, 10:30 a.m. (loser out)
Semifinal, 3:45 p.m.
Semifinal, 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 5
Consolation game, 8 a.m. (winner fourth, loser sixth)
Consolation final, 11:15 p.m. (winner third, loser fifth)
Championship game, 5 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.