It was a good night for the navy and white … a championship night.
The Lynden Christian girls “upset” top-ranked Nooksack Valley, 54-51, to win the Class 1A District 1 championship on Friday night, Feb. 11. A little over an hour later also on the Nooksack Valley homecourt, the Lynden Christian boys dominated Blaine, 86-57, to win their district title.
Both Lyncs teams now move on to the District 1/2 crossover games against the fifth-place finishers from the Emerald Sound Conference boys and girls tournaments. Both those games will be played on Feb. 19 at King’s High School with the winners advancing to the state regionals.
The district tournaments continue for the Nooksack Valley girls and Blaine boys with a doubleheader on Tuesday, Feb. 15, once again at Nooksack. The Pioneers will face Meridian in the first game and Blaine will face Nooksack Valley in the second contest.
The winners of those two games will advance to the bi-district crossover round and face the fourth-place finishers from District 2 also on Feb. 19 at King’s.
Here’s what happened Friday night:
1A Girls: Lyncs Hold On To Beat Pioneers For Title
Even though Lynden Christian is the defending Class 1A state champion, the Lyncs were underdogs to the No.1-ranked Pioneers, who not only claimed the Northwest Conference championship but came from behind to beat the Lyncs in their regular-season contest.
Once again, Lynden Christian held the lead in the fourth quarter, and once again the veteran Pioneers cut a seven-point margin to two with 33 seconds left on Tehya Moore’s runner in the key.
But even though this LC squad is inexperienced in big games — only one player remains who saw significant playing time when the Lyncs won the 2020 state title — they played like they’d been in big games in packed gyms before.
They forced the Pioneers into a traveling call with 10 seconds left and, after a missed free throw, forced Nooksack into another turnover with less than a second left. After LC junior Taryn Herwerden hit a free throw to make it 54-51, Nooksack Valley’s last-ditch shot and its comeback came up short.
“That was awesome,” said LC’s Libby Stump, who as a sophomore hit the last shot in the 2020 state championship game and as a senior had a game-high 20 points to give the Lyncs a district title. “I felt like we had nothing to lose. I love this team and to experience this together is awesome.”
How inexperienced were the Lyncs? Freshman Grace Hintz, who was starting because senior Alli Van Kooten suffered a serious knee injury in their last game, forgot to shake hands with the opposing player during introductions. And when it came time to cutting down the nets, nobody remembered to bring scissors.
It didn’t matter. The Lyncs may have been inexperienced but with a 17-4 record and ranked No.2 in the state, they were not real underdogs. They held the lead most of the first half, and after Nooksack Valley took a five-point lead in the third quarter, rallied to go up by seven midway in the fourth quarter on Stump’s 3-pointer as the shot clock went off.
But the Pioneers (16-3) were ranked No.1 for a reason and they never quit. Down by eight with two minutes to go, all-everything sophomore Devin Coppinger hit one basket, fellow sophomore Lainey Kimball hit two pressure-packed free throws, and Moore’s basket set up the final fireworks.
“When we went up by five, I thought we had a chance to pull away,” said Nooksack Valley coach Shane Wichers. “But they hit some big shots. But we’ll be fine. I told them this is history. Let’s move on. We’ve got a game Tuesday.”
Coppinger led the Pioneers with 12 points despite being constantly shadowed by taller forwards Lexi Kaptein and Herwerden or pesky guards Demi Dykstra and Hintz. Senior post McKenna Wichers had 10 points for the Pioneers, senior Ellie Van Berkum hit three 3-pointers for 9 points, and Moore finished with 8 points.
“They came out and played harder than we did,” said Coppinger. “They did all the little things.” And now, what do the Pioneers have to look forward to? “An 8 a.m. practice tomorrow,” said the sophomore guard. “We’ll be ready for Tuesday.”
Hintz, who was a seventh-grader the last time the Lyncs were in a playoff game, had 12 points.
“They’re a great team,” the freshman said of Nooksack Valley. “I was nervous. But it was a super fun game to play in. This environment got us ready for state.”
LC senior Charley Dykstra was a spark in the first half with seven of her eight points before halftime, and Kaptein added 6 points to her defensive efforts.
“They played so hard,” Lynden Christian coach Brady Bomber said of his team. “Nooksack did too. Now we’ll take a week and regroup (for next Saturday’s game). There are no guarantees from here on. All the teams will be good.”
Lynden Christian 54, Nooksack Valley 51
Lynden Christian 14 8 20 12—54
Nooksack Valley 10 9 19 13—51
Lynden Christian: Libby Stump 20, Demi Dykstra 3, Taryn Herwerden 1, Lexi Kaptein 6, Grace Hintz 12, Charley Dykstra 8, Daisy Poag 3, Reganne Arnold 1.
Nooksack Valley: Lainey Kimball 4, Tehya Moore 8, Devin Coppinger 12, Hallie Kamphouse 6, McKenna Wichers 10, Ellie Van Berkum 9, Taylor Lentz 2.
CLASS 1A DISTRICT 1 TOURNAMENT
Tuesday, Feb. 8
#4 Blaine 34, #5 Mount Baker 33 (loser out)
Thursday, Feb. 10
#3 Meridian 60, Blaine 30 (loser out)
Friday, Feb. 11
#2 Lynden Christian 54, #1 Nooksack Valley 51 (winner to bi-district playoff)
Tuesday, Feb. 15
Meridian at Nooksack Valley (winner to bi-district playoff, loser out)
1A Boys: Lyncs Come Out Firing Against Blaine
Lynden Christian came into the district championship game with the top seed, the best record (16-1) and a No.2 state ranking. And nothing they did in Friday night’s 86-57 victory over Blaine changed anyone’s opinion of the Lyncs.
“You’ve got to tip your hat to their team,” said Blaine coach Brett Farrar. “They were more aggressive, more tenacious on the boards, and when they are shooting the lights out that’s a lethal combination … for us.”
The Lyncs put up 23 points in the first quarter, 28 in the second quarter, and led by 30 in the third quarter. And this was not against any pushover.
Blaine was the second seed, winner of its previous seven games with its only loss in the past two months a 13-point defeat to the same Lyncs. And until Friday, the most points the Borderites had given up this season was 68.
“I didn’t expect this,” said LC coach Tim Zylstra. “But we got things going, and when we rebound like that we’re hard to stop. This was a good test against a good team with this (playoff) atmosphere. This is what it’s all about.”
The Lyncs’ firepower was on display from the beginning. Senior Andrew Hommes showed why he should be an all-stater by dominating inside with 24 points, junior guard Tyler Sipma had 15 points, and senior Crew Bosman and junior Griffin Dykstra had 9 points each.
And then there was senior Jamison Hintz. With the Borderites still within striking distance with three and a half minutes left in the second quarter, the Lyncs’ emotional spark plug took over.
Hintz had a putback, a 3-pointer, another 3-pointer and — after a 3-pointer and bucket by Hommes — one more 3-pointer and a layup and the Lyncs were suddenly up by 25 going into halftime. After that Blaine never got closer than 20.
“When he gets going, it’s heat check time,” said Zylstra of Hintz, who had 19 points and half of LC’s 10 3-pointers. “And Andrew was really good down low, which opened it up for everyone else.”
Hintz, who watched his young sister help the LC girls win their district title earlier Friday, said he knew Blaine was good, but he also knew what the Lyncs were capable of.
“We came out firing,” he said. “This was one of our best games of the season.”
For Hommes, who saw playing time on the 2020 LC team that finished second at state, it was fun to be in the real playoffs again.
“We’re going to take it one game at a time,” he said. “If we play as a team and share the ball, we have a chance to give ourselves the best shot at our end goal.” And he didn’t even need to say what that goal was.
The Borderites, who along with rival Nooksack Valley still have an opportunity to reach their goal of getting to the Class 1A state tournament in Yakima, were led by junior Lucas Smith, who came off the bench to hit three 3s and score 14 points.
Junior Carson Lehnert had 13 points, and seniors Cole Thomas and Scott Baldwin added 12 and 10 points, respectively, for Blaine.
NOTES: Kudos to Nooksack Valley for not only hosting the championship doubleheader but for allowing Lynden Christian to share an emotional moment before the girls game when they asked for a moment of silence to remember 2020 graduate Jude Veltkamp, who passed away from cancer last Sunday.
Lynden Christian 86, Blaine 57
Blaine 14 12 14 17—57
Lynden Christian 23 28 18 17—86
Blaine: Lucas Smith 14, Lawrence Creasey Pulphus, Matthew Russ 6, Ethan Koreski, Cole Thomas 12, Scott Baldwin 10, Avery Dohner, Anden Holley 2, Carson Lehnert 13, Noah Tavis.
Lynden Christian: Tyler Sipma 15, Griffin Dykstra 9, Dexter Zylstra, Dawson Bouma 2, Eli Bootsma 3, Jamison Hintz 19, Crew Bosman 9, Lane Dykstra 3, Kayden Stuit, Andrew Hommes 24, Jeremiah Wright 2, William Colwell.
CLASS 1A DISTRICT 1 TOURNAMENT
Tuesday, Feb. 8
#4 Meridian 66 #5 Mount Baker 46 (loser out)
Thursday, Feb. 10
#3 Nooksack Valley 58, Meridian 36 (loser out)
Friday, Feb. 11
#1 Lynden Christian 86, #2 Blaine 57 (winner to bi-district playoff)
Tuesday, Feb. 15
Blaine at Nooksack Valley (winner to bi-district playoff, loser out)