The Lynden Christian girls basketball team is the defending Class 1A state champion. Emphasis on “defending.”
The Lyncs used their outstanding individual and team defense to shut down visiting Sehome, 68-25, in a Northwest Conference showdown Monday night, June 7.
“LC is incredibly discipled defensively,” said Sehome coach Anye Turner. “It really rattled us.”
The Lyncs’ helping man-to-man defense was especially dominant in the first half.
The only offense the Mariners managed was two Madeline Schumacher buckets — the first a driving layup with two seconds left in the first quarter — and four free throws. That’s eight points in two quarters from a team that only had two losses coming into the game and was in the hunt for the league title.
“I thought we brought great energy defensively,” said LC coach Brady Bomber, whose first-place squad raised its record to 7-0 in NWC play and 8-0 overall. “And that jump-started our offense.”
Oh yeah … the Lyncs’ offense. By dominating the boards, Lynden Christian was able to get its running game going. And when the fastbreak wasn’t there, LC still found ways to make layups.
With senior point guard Emily Mellema driving to the hoop for four left-handed layups, LC ran out to a 22-4 lead after one quarter. A 25-point second quarter ended any doubt as to the outcome, and midway through the third quarter it was 54-10 and time for the running clock.
“Everybody is unselfish,” said Lynden Christian senior Paige TeVelde. “We’re willing to give up good shots for great shots.”
Mellema and junior Alli Van Kooten had 10 points to lead the Lyncs’ balanced attack, which nearly equaled its 71-point average coming into the game. Senior Lexi Hernandez had 9 points, junior Libby Stump had 8, and senior Kiley Roetcisoender had 7.
Schumacher and sophomore Mac Cooper had 8 points each to lead Sehome, which fell to 6-3 in both league and overall. Junior Ava Lunny added 7 points, but only four Mariners managed to score.
“It was good for us,” said Turner, whose team has played all but two games this season without its best player, Aspen Garrison, who left school early to begin her college career. “We’re a young team, and you learn by taking your lumps. We want to finish the season strong.”
For the Lyncs, the biggest disappointment in a season that has seen them win by an average of more than 35 points a game is that they will not be able to truly defend their Class 1A state championship because there are no playoffs this year because of COVID restrictions.
“Last year our motto was ‘love the mud’ … the really bad stuff that comes along,” said TeVelde. “And it’s been a muddy season.”
But the LC seniors are trying to take it in stride.
“We want to enjoy every moment, because you don’t know when it could end,” said Hernandez. “Being with each other, that’s been our focus.”
Having last week’s game with Anacortes canceled because of COVID at the Skagit County school was a reminder that the end of the season could come sooner than expected.
“There’s no guarantee you’re going to play another game,” said Bomber. “We keep coming back to the pursuit of joy and excellence. So let’s enjoy this. And we seem to play better that way.”
Lynden Christian’s next game is in Seattle for a non-league contest with King’s on Friday. The Lyncs wrap up their season next week with games at Squalicum on June 15, at home against rival Lynden on June 17, and at Meridian on June 19.
Sehome only has three more games — at Ferndale on Wednesday, at Blaine on June 15, and at home against Nooksack Valley on June 17.