2A Girls State: Lynden Clobbers Clarkston; Next up: Ellensburg

It wasn’t what the Lynden girls basketball team did on the court during the Lions’ Class 2A state semifinal on Friday night, March 1, that truly impressed their coach — although their 61-43 victory over Clarkston in the Yakima SunDome really was impressive.

It was what happened in the final seconds when coach Rob Adams finally gave his starters on the bench permission to enjoy the moment and celebrate that Lynden was going back to the state championship game the next night.

“I told them it was OK to have fun (on the bench),” said Adams. “But they didn’t want that. They said, ‘This is business.’ I told them, ‘I like you guys more and more. You’re my kind of team.’”

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

The Lions will get to take care of business one last time when they meet top-ranked and two-time defending state champion Ellensburg in the state finals on Saturday at 5 p.m. The Bulldogs are riding a 75-game winning streak. The last team to beat them? The 2020 Lynden state championship squad in the state quarterfinals.

The matchup between top-seed Ellensburg and second-seeded Lynden has been forecast for months, but each had to get by tough semifinal games on Friday. The Bulldogs beat rival Prosser for the fourth time, 44-31, which left it up to Lynden to do its part.

And the Lions did just that. After a slow start that saw them down by one after one quarter, the Lions began dominating inside and shutting down the Bantams’ shooters. Lynden took the lead in the second quarter, took command in the third quarter, and took as much as a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter.

“We kept shooting ourselves in the foot,” Adams said of the early-game woes. “We regrouped a little bit. Four minutes into the third quarter, it was like we were ready to go.”

Adams praised the play and leadership of senior wing Haylee Koetje and senior point guard Mallary Villars.

“I got on Haylee and she responded,” said Adams. “She and Mallary played with a little bit of moxee, a little bit of swagger. And then there’s Batman and Robin.”

That would be Adams’ nicknames for sophomore Payton Mills and freshman Finley Parcher or Parcher and Mills since, as Adams puts it, “Every night they trade-off.”

On Friday it was Mills’s turn to be the high scorer with 18 points, while Parcher had 13 points. Mills, a 6-foot-2 post, also pulled down 12 rebounds, and Parcher, a 6-1 guard, had 6 rebounds as the Lions won the battle of the boards, 52-25.

Koetje would add 11 points and 5 rebounds, junior Kiki York had 7 points and 7 rebounds, sophomore Rian Stephan had 8 rebounds, and freshman Lexi Hermanutz had 5 rebounds. The rebounding advantage combined with holding Clarkston to 26 percent shooting from the field made it a good night for the Lions.

Adams once again mentioned his gratitude to the four seniors — Koetje, Villars, Kalanie Newcomb, and Mya VanderYacht — in sticking with and helping build the program.

“I appreciate all of these COVID kids,” he said. “They came in after the ultimate (state championship) high in 2020, lose an entire year (to COVID restrictions), have three coaches in four years, and didn’t win a game at state. They are a gritty bunch. I think this is turning into my kind of team.”

Clarkston, which fell to 25-2 on the season, will have a rematch with Prosser in the consolation final on Saturday at 3:45 p.m. with the winner taking third and the loser fifth.

Lynden 61, Clarkston 43

Clarkston     11       13         9       10—43

Lynden        10       16       18       17—61

Clarkston: Jaelyn McCormack-Marks , Preslee Dempsey 8, Ryann Combs 10, Aneysa Judy 4, Eloise Teasley 3, Ella Leavitt 6, Alahondra Perez, Kendall Wallace 3, Joey Miller, Lexi Villavicencio 6, Olivia Gustafson 1. 

Lynden: Mallary Villars 5, Kalanie Newcomb, Degitu Bowler, Mya VanderYacht, Rilanna Newcomb, Jules Slayton, Rian Stephan 2, Lexi Hermanutz 5, Haylee Koetje 11, Kiki York 7, Finley Parcher 13, Payton Mills 18.


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 (22-5) vs. #6 Archbishop Murphy (21-6), 8 a.m. (winner fourth, loser sixth)

#5 Clarkston (25-2) vs. #4 Prosser (21-6), 11:15 a.m. (winner third, loser fifth)

#1 Ellensburg (24-0) vs. #2 Lynden (26-1), 5 p.m. (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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