Boys District: LC Wins Title; Lynden, Sehome Advance To Showdown

The Whatcom County boys basketball teams settled who is the best among the Class 1A teams, and now it is the 2A teams’ turn.

Lynden Christian won the Class 1A District 1 championship with an impressive performance over Blaine, 65-40, Saturday night at Lynden High School.

With the victory, the Lyncs earned a spot in the District 1/2 crossover series next Saturday and will play the District 2 fifth-place finisher with a berth in the state regionals at stake.

The Borderites are still alive in the district tournament and will face Nooksack Valley, a 52-32 winner over Meridian on Saturday, in the consolation final on Tuesday. The Blaine-Nooksack winner also will advance to the crossover series with a chance to reach the state regionals.

Meanwhile, Lynden and Sehome had big victories Saturday in the Class 2A quarterfinals and will square off on Tuesday in a semifinal clash at Mount Vernon High School with a state tournament berth on the line.

The Lions knocked off Squalicum on Saturday, 64-35, while Sehome bested Burlington-Edison, 60-47. The Storm will try to keep their season alive when they visit Burlington on Tuesday in a loser-out contest.

Class 1A

Lynden Christian 65, Blaine 40

The Borderites looked like they were ready to avenge an earlier 14-point loss to LC as they took a 13-10 lead after the first quarter. But from then on, it was all Lynden Christian.

The Lyncs put together a 23-point second quarter and held Blaine to just 18 points in the second half as they pulled away for their 21st victory in 23 games.

“We started out soft defending them,” said Lynden Christian coach Tim Zylstra. “They have really good players, and you have to stop them. Once we got some stops and rebounds, we got going.  But we still have work to do to get better.”

Maybe so, but the defending state champions looked ready to return to Yakima. Junior Jeremiah Wright had 20 points inside, senior Griffin Dykstra had three of LC’s eight 3-pointers and 15 points, senior Tyler Sipma and junior Dawson Bouma had 9 points each, and senior Lane Dykstra had 7 points and a pair of 3s.

“It’s really fun to celebrate milestones,” said Wright when asked how he was feeling after the big win. “But we still have some steps to take. We came out slow in the first quarter  and then we were just clicking. We’re exactly where we wanted to be.”

Not so for Blaine, which was held to its lowest point total of the season. The usually sharp-shooting Borderites only had three 3-pointers, which allowed LC to collapse its defense inside.

Matt Russ led Blaine with 13 points, nine of which came in the first period to stake the Borderites to their early lead. But after the LC defense adjusted, there was little room for him to operate in the paint.

“They’ll keep packing it in against Russ, so you have to pull them out by making your shots,” said Blaine coach Nate Sullivan, whose team fell to 14-7. “So our journey continues. With so much on the line (Tuesday against Nooksack), it’ll definitely be a battle.”

Senior Lucas Smith finished with 11 points and senior Carson Lehnert had 7 for the Borderites.

Lynden Christian 65, Blaine 40

Blaine                            13         9       10         8—40

Lynden Christian           10       23       17       15—65

Blaine: Smith 11, Creasey-Pulphus 5, Russ 13, Koreski, Audette, Dalry, Censale, Lehnert 7, Tavis 4, Weeda.

Lynden Christian: Sipma 9, Ga. Dykstra, Bouma 9, Robertson, Zylstra 4, Gr. Dykstra 15, L. Dykstra 7, Paxton, Kuik 1, Wright 20, Van Kooten, Blair.

Nooksack Valley 52, Meridian 32

The Pioneers played the game they wanted — slow and methodical — and got the result they wanted: a big victory over the Trojans.

“We wanted to slow it down,” said Nooksack Valley coach Rich Skillman. “I told them it might not be the funest way to win, but it’s fun to win.”

The Pioneers had fun as they improved their record to 10-12 heading into Tuesday’s consolation final with Blaine. They also avenged an earlier loss to Meridian, when the Trojans’ press and running game downed the Pioneers, 68-50.

Not this time. Nooksack Valley’s defense and Meridian’s cold shooting left the Trojans with just 19 points through the first three quarters.

“They did a good job slowing it down,” said Meridian coach Shane Stacy, whose team ended the season at 11-11. “Then when we missed shots, we got down on ourselves.”

No Trojans reached double figures with sophomore Talon Jenkins’s 8 points leading the team. Another sophomore, Jaeger Fyfe, had 6 points.

The Pioneers didn’t have any big scorers either, but they had more. Senior Bennett DeLange had 11 points, senior Ayden Roper had 9, sophomore Brady Ackerman had 8, and sophomore Colton Lentz had 7.

“This felt good, especially after the LC game,” DeLange said of the semifinal loss to Lynden Christian. “We know if we could hold teams under 50 (points), we can win.”

For Hunter Jones, one of four seniors who played his last game for Meridian, it was a disappointing loss but not a disappointing season. 

“We definitely had a good year with a very young team,” said Jones. “We made amazing progress, and I am proud of them.”

Stacy praised his seniors — Jones, Landon James, Amrit Nagra, and Tyrel Brooks — for their leadership and positive attitudes.

“As the smallest 1A school in the conference and to go .500, that’s a win for us and our seniors,” said the coach. “This was a great group, and we are proud of what they did.”

Nooksack Valley 52, Meridian 32

Nooksack Valley         12       10       11       19—52

Meridian                       6         7         6        13—32

Nooksack Valley: Heutink 5, DeLange 11, Vigre 3, Orney 3, Lentz 7, Roper 9, Silves 5, Hickey, Kamphouse, Brown 1, Ackerman 8.

Meridian: Jenkins 8, Fuller 5, Fyfe 6, Nagra, Short, Amundson, Hedahl, Burks 5, James 4, Jones 4, Clawson, Brooks.


Monday, Feb. 6

Play-in game

#4 Nooksack Valley 61, #5 Mount Baker 43 (loser out)

Wednesday, Feb. 8


#2 Blaine 61, #3 Meridian 56

#1 Lynden Christian 83, Nooksack Valley 38

Saturday, Feb. 11

At Lynden High

Consolation round

Nooksack Valley 52, Meridian 32 (loser out)

Championship game

Lynden Christian 65, Blaine 40 (winner to bi-district playoff)

Tuesday, Feb. 14

Consolation final

At Lynden High

Blaine (14-7) vs. Nooksack Valley (10-12), 7 p.m. (winner to bi-district playoff, loser out)


Saturday, Feb. 18

At King’s High School

District 1 #1 Lynden Christian vs. District 2 #5, 5 p.m. (winner to state regionals, loser out)

District 1 #2 vs. District 2 #4, 7 p.m. (winner to state regionals, loser out)

Class 2A

Lynden 64, Squalicum 35

The Lions wanted to win the first four minutes of the game and they wanted to win the war on the boards. They did both in dominating the Storm on Saturday.

“We’ve struggled with our starts of games,” said Lynden coach Brian Roper, whose second-seeded Lions improved their record to 18-3, “Today we had the determination to win the first four minutes. And on a night when Anthony and Coston didn’t have big nights, other guys stepped up.”

Anthony and Coston, of course, are Lynden’s top two scorers — Anthony Canales and Coston Parcher. The two combined for 23 points or about half their average, but they did spark the first-quarter flurry by scoring five points each as the Lions took an 18-7 lead.

But on this night — or technically afternoon — the Lions didn’t need big games from the Big Two. Sophomore Brant Heppner had 13 points, seniors Trey Smiley and Alexander Matthew had 6 points each and, more importantly, the Lions shut down the Squalicum scorers.

“It’s always about defense, rebounds, and hustle points,” said Heppner. “It’s the Lynden way. On offense, it’s all about not caring who scores.”

The Lions would finish with a 30-21 edge in rebounding with Heppner collecting 6 and Parcher and senior Kobe Baar pulling down 5 each. Canales and Parcher also did more than just score as the former had 4 steals and the latter had 3 assists as did Baar.

For Squalicum, it was a cold-shooting night in the Jake at least from long distance. The Storm only hit 4 of 17 3-point attempts and because of the rebounding margin would get off 18 fewer shots than Lynden. Having 21 turnovers against Lynden’s aggressive defense didn’t help.

“Lynden did what Lynden does,” said Squalicum coach Tyler Hannigan, whose team fell to 10-13. “Their physicality gives them extra opportunities and they took advantage of them. You can’t give teams like that those opportunities.”

Senior Xander Sledge led the Storm with 15 points and three 3-pointers. Junior Peter Albert had 6 points and senior Ashton Engelhart had 5 points and the two had 6 rebounds each.

“We didn’t play the game we wanted,” said Sledge. “There’s a lot of basketball to go to get third place (and a state berth). This will fuel some fire in us.”

The Squalicum coach wasn’t worried about the loss leaving any bad effects.

“You flush it and move on to the next one,” said Hannigan. “We’re all fighting for that third-place spot and we get another shot.”

Lynden, however, will get a shot at a state berth when it faces rival Sehome in the semifinal Tuesday. While the Lions have won three of the past four state titles, they are taking nothing for granted.

 “We know you can’t buy a ticket to state unless you want to watch,” said Roper. “We never take it (a trip to state) for granted. And if you can’t get up for a game like this, you shouldn’t be playing high school basketball.”

Lynden 64, Squalicum 35

Squalicum            7         7         9       12—35

Lynden               18       13       17       16—64

Squalicum: Donnelly, Jacobs, Nixon 2, Singh, Watt 1, Nichols, Engelhart 5, Smith, Hofer, Sledge 15, Heaton 2, Pavia 4, Albert 6.

Lynden: Elsner 2, Parcher 12, Peterson 4, Matthews 6, Hanenburg, Van Dalen 3, Smiley 6, Canales 11, Ayres, Heppner 13, Baar 5, Bowler 2.

Sehome 60, Burlington-Edison 47

It was definitely the story of two halves as the sixth-seeded Tigers pounced on the third-seeded Mariners for 20 first-quarter points and were poised for the upset, trailing only by one at halftime. But the second half belonged to Sehome.

The Mariners held Burlington-Edison to a mere 17 points and pulled away in the fourth quarter by hitting 11 of 15 free throws.

Senior Grant Kepley had 22 points to lead the Mariners, who improved to 17-3 on the season. He had a pair of 3-pointers and made 8 of 10 free throws for the game.

But it was a balanced attack for Sehome as seniors Grey Garrison and Mat Storms and junior Braddock Duckworth had 10 points each, and senior Isaac Lawrence added 7 points

Sehome 60, Burlington-Edison 47

Burlington-Edison        20       10         6       11—47

Sehome                           15       16       11       18—60

Burlington-Edison: Ruiz 6, Whitlock 2, Lemos, Granberg 16, E. Wilson, R. Wilson 12, Howe 8, Powers, Light 3.

Sehome: Lawrence 7, Daheim, Garrison 10, McKay, Duckworth 10, Storms 10, Swanson, Funk 1, Wright, Kepley 22, Eisses.


Play-in games

Thursday, Feb. 9

#7 Squalicum 56, #10 Sedro-Woolley 44  (loser out)

#8 Archbishop Murphy 56, #9 Bellingham 41 (loser out)

First round

Saturday, Feb. 11

#2 Lynden 64, Squalicum 35

#3 Sehome 60, #6 Burlington-Edison 47

#4 Lakewood 68, #5 Cedarcrest 64

#1 Anacortes 79, Archbishop Murphy 48

Tuesday, Feb. 14

Consolation games

Squalicum (10-13) at Burlington-Edison (8-12) (loser out)

Archbishop Murphy (8-15) at Cedarcrest (9-11) (loser out)


At Mount Vernon

Lynden (18-3) vs. Sehome (17-3), 5:30 p.m.

Anacortes (19-2) vs. Lakewood (12-10), 7:15 p.m.

Consolation games

Thursday, Feb. 16

At Mount Vernon

Consolation game winner vs. semifinal loser, 5:30 p.m. (loser out)

Consolation game winner vs. semifinal loser, 7:15 p.m. (loser out)

Saturday, Feb. 18

At Mount Vernon

Consolation final

Consolation winners, 5:30 p.m. (winner third, to state regionals, loser out)

Championship game

Semifinal winners, 7:15 p.m. (winner first, loser second, both to state regionals)

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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