On a night when Lynden High School recognized its historic 100 years of boys basketball, it was only appropriate that the Lions and Lyncs had another battle worthy of the history books.
And, as is often the case between these two, it went down to the final seconds as Lynden Christian took a thriller from the Lions, 55-52, in a matchup of defending state champions on Saturday night, Feb. 4.
“It’s Lynden-LC,” said LC coach Tim Zylstra, who grew up playing for the Lyncs. “If you can’t get fired up for this, we’ve got a problem.”
The packed house at “The Jake” was fired up, but nobody expected the game that unfolded.
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The Lyncs jumped out to a stunning 20-4 lead with a minute left in the first quarter. Doing the most stunning was LC junior Dawson Bouma, who hit three 3-pointers and had 11 of his team-high 16 points in the first period. And the Lyncs looked ready to defend their Class 1A state title and No.1 ranking.
“Bouma was not on our radar as a 3-point shooter,” said Lynden coach Brian Roper, who was recognized at halftime along with seven other head coaches over the school’s past century of hoops. “He got them going.”
But the Lions didn’t win the Class 2A state title last March by lying down. A powerful Anthony Canales dunk and two Coston Parcher 3-pointers got the lead to eight by halftime as the green and gold side of the gym went crazy.
Then in the third quarter, senior Kobe Baar exploded for two 3s and 10 points to bring Lynden within four. And it looked like the Lions would chase down their quarry.
“The second half we had a little more energy,” said Baar. “I’m glad we came back. It was a really good game … just not the ending.”
Ah, the ending. After chipping away at LC’s big lead all game long, the Lions finally put together a Lynden-like run in the last three minutes and down by seven. And as usual, Canales was the one driving the offense — literally.
The junior wing drove for a three-point play, scored off an inbounds play, drove for another three-point play and then hit two free throws and suddenly, with two minutes left, Lynden had its first lead of the night, 51-50.
“I thought it would be close, then I thought we had the game, but they hit some big shots,” said Bouma, who often had to chase Canales around on defense. “He’s tough. I was tired.”
Then came the first shot that would prove to be the difference. With 1:30 left and the 30-second shot clock winding down to zero, LC senior Tyler Sipma put up a desperation 3-pointer that proved to be anything but desperate as it swished through as the shot clock went off to put Lynden Christian up, 53-51.
After a Parcher free throw, Sipma got the ball again. The all-star guard was relatively quiet offensively most of the night, but he drove to the hoop and under intense pressure, flipped up a driving shot that went through to put LC up, 55-52.
With less than a minute to go, Lynden was forced to foul and when LC missed two free throws, the Lions had one last chance. Actually two. But forced 3-point attempts by Trey Smiley and Parcher were off the mark, and the Lyncs had pulled off the big win.
“We talked before the game that there would be waves,” said Zylstra, whose squad improved to 19-2 overall and 13-2 in the Northwest Conference. “I was proud of the way we withstood theirs. We stayed the course and continued to battle. It comes down to defense and rebounding, and we did just enough to get the win.”
“That one hurt,” said Roper, whose team fell to Lynden 17-3 overall and 13-2 in the NWC. “We’ve had trouble getting off to good starts. I was proud of us climbing back, but we dug such a big hole early. Then Sipma hit that shot … give the kid credit. He’s a gamer.”
Sipma would finish with 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists; junior Jeremiah Wright had 10 points and 8 rebounds; senior Griffin Dykstra added 9 points; and senior Lane Dykstra had 5 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists.
For Lynden, Canales had a game-high 20 points and 5 rebounds, Baar had 13 points, and Parcher had 11 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists.
While the victory was important for the Lyncs when it comes to bragging rights for another year, the loss was indeed painful for the Lions. They dropped from the top seed in the District 1 tournament to the second spot and a possible rematch in the semifinals with a hot Sehome team.
Baar, however, summed up his team’s character. “It’s going to be a challenge,” he said. “But we’re a team that believes in each other. There’s no panic.”
Lynden Christian begins play as the top seed in its District 1 tournament on Wednesday, Feb. 8, when the Lyncs take on the winner of Monday’s Mount Baker-Nooksack Valley loser-out, first-round game.
“We’re ready,” said Bouma.
Lynden will have to wait until next Saturday, Feb. 11, when the Lions host a Class 2A quarterfinal game against the winner of Thursday’s play-in game between 10th-seeded Sedro-Woolley and seventh-seeded Squalicum.
Lynden Christian 55, Lynden 52
Lynden Christian 20 12 10 13—55
Lynden 8 15 15 14—52
Lynden Christian: Sipma 12, Ga. Dykstra, Bouma 16, Zylstra 3, Gr. Dykstra 9, L. Dykstra 5, Paxton, Kuik, Wright 10.
Lynden: Elsner, Parcher 11, Petersen 1, Hanenburg, Van Dalen, Smiley 4, Canales 20, Heppner 3, Baar 13.