So much has changed since the Lynden girls basketball team was last seen at the Class 2A state tournament.
Two years ago, the senior-led Lions were the top seed with only one loss and were one of the heavy favorites. They went on to crush everyone on their way to winning their second state championship in four years.
When this year’s Lynden squad faces Sequim in the regional round of the Class 2A state tournament on Friday, the Lions will only have one senior, one player with playoff experience, nine underclassmen, and a No.12 seed.
Oh yeah, and no pressure.
Check out Whatcom Hoops for previews of the Class 1B boys, Class 1A boys and girls, and Class 2A boys state regionals.
Still, as the defending state champions (there were no state playoffs last year because of COVID) and with a legacy of state success, the young Lions have high expectations.
To reach the Yakima SunDome, however, the 12th-seeded Lions (15-6) will have to win a loser-out game against 13th-seed Sequim (19-4)on Friday at 6 p.m. at Mount Vernon High School.
And to reach next Thursday’s state quarterfinals and a shot at another state trophy, they’ll have to survive another loser-contest on Wednesday.
Here’s a look at Lynden and the 2A girls state tournament:
Record: 15-6 (#12 seed)
Starters: Mallary Villars, G., So., 5-8; Claire DeVries, G, Sr., 5-9; Adia Newcomb, G, Jr., 5-7; Haylee Koetje, G, So., 5-9; Chloe Wittenberg, F, Jr., 5-7.
Reserves: Kamryn Hermanutz, G, Fr., 5-8; Mya VanderYacht, G, So., 5-3; Hannah Saur, G, So., 5-7; Ella Selcho, So., G, 5-4; Karlee Holman, G, So., 5-7; Kiki York, Fr., F, 5-8; Melanie Anderson, G, Fr., 5-6.
Team preview: Lynden might not have much state experience — only junior guard Adia Newcomb remains from the state championship team — or height with no one taller than 5-foot-9, but the Lions are athletic and aggressive, especially on defense. The key will be making their shots, and with Newcomb, sophomore Haylee Koetje, and senior Claire DeVries, they have three players who can hit from outside or drive inside.
State outlook: The last we saw of top-seed and once-beaten Tumwater, the Thunderbirds were beating up the best of our county — Lynden Christian and Nooksack Valley — in a Christmas tournament. Along with undefeated and talented Ellensburg and two other Southwest powers (Hudson’s Bay and W.F. West), the Thunderbirds are the favorites although perennial state placers Archbishop Murphy, Washougal, and Port Angeles are dangerous teams capable of breaking into the top three.
Coach Vic Wolffis: “We have inherited a 2A state championship to defend and earned the opportunity to defend it at the state level. We are grateful and honored to defend it and will pour ourselves into that defense with a healthy respect for the teams we face. We do that and we will be successful no matter the outcomes.”
CLASS 2A STATE REGIONALS
Friday, Feb. 25
#11 Prosser (17-6) vs. #14 Enumclaw (17-5) at Richland HS, 6 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#12 Lynden (15-6) vs. #13 Sequim (19-4) at Mount Vernon HS, 6 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#4 W.F. West (19-4) vs. #5 Archbishop Murphy (13-6) at Tumwater HS, 8 p.m. (both to state)
#10 White River (19-4) vs. #15 Sammamish (16-6) at Mount Tahoma HS, 8 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
Saturday, Feb. 26
#3 Hudson’s Bay (17-3) vs. #6 Port Angeles (17-4) at Battle Ground HS, noon (both to state tournament)
#2 Ellensburg (22-0) vs. #7 Washougal (16-4) at Davis HS, 4 p.m. (both to state tournament)
#1 Tumwater (22-1) vs. #8 Burlington-Edison (16-7) at W.F. West HS, 6 p.m. (both to state)
#9 West Valley (Spokane) (20-2) vs. #16 North Kitsap (14-7) at Central Valley HS, 6 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
At Yakima SunDome
Wednesday-Saturday, March 2-5
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.