“It was a great night for girls basketball.”
Lynden Christian coach Brady Bomber could have been talking about his Lyncs’ hard-fought 65-47 victory over crosstown rival Lynden in their annual Northwest Conference showdown on Thursday, Jan. 27. But he wasn’t.
He was talking about the sold out crowd at Lynden Christian that cheered for both teams like it was a district playoff game, and the combined cheer staffs and LC band that performed like it was a state tournament game.
And he was talking about the standing ovations given to honorary coaches Nick Brossoit for Lynden and Randy Reimer for Lynden Christian. The two were honored as part of the pre-game Coaches versus Cancer presentation, a league tradition in its 13th year of raising awareness and funds in the battle against the deadly disease.
Then there was the emotional sign held up by the Lyncs cheer staff sending out love to 2020 LC graduate Jude Veltkamp, who continues his own fight with cancer.
To support the Coaches versus Cancer cause by donating online to Peace Health St. Joseph’s Cancer Center, click on Coaches vs. Cancer.
“We are thankful for our community and students,” said Bomber of both Lynden and Lynden Christian. “We are blessed to have this experience.”
“We were super excited about the environment,” said Lynden Christian senior Libby Stump. “Not many girls teams in the state — in the nation — have this.”
Of course, not many towns in the nation can boast of their two high schools being the defending state champions.
“It definitely felt like a playoff game,” said Lynden junior Adia Newcomb, the only Lion left from the 2020 Class 2A state champion team. “Every year this is the game we look forward to. It’s a pride thing.”
The Lions can be proud of their effort, but on this night it was the Lyncs who played at a state championship level. A 26-point second quarter broke the game open, and although the Lions clawed back to within nine in the third quarter and fought until the end, Lynden Christian’s depth was too much.
“This was a really good measuring stick,” said Lynden coach Vic Wolffis, whose young and inexperienced squad has been one of the league’s biggest surprises with an 11-4 overall record and 11-2 mark in the NWC. “I thought our kids were phenomenal. We just don’t have the depth.”
For Lynden Christian, which raised its overall record to 14-4 overall, 11-1 in the NWC, depth has been a necessity after graduating a starting five that won the 2020 Class 1A state title and probably would have won another one last spring if there’d been playoffs.
Now the Lyncs rely on veterans Stump and senior Alli Van Kooten and a deep bench filled with talent but little playoff experience.
Stump had 19 points on Thursday and was the calming leader who never let things get out of control. Van Kooten was a dominant force inside, scoring 16 points, 10 of them in the third quarter when Lynden tried to rally.
Joining them in double figures was freshman Grace Hintz, who had 18 points, 10 in the fourth period to finish off any hopes Lynden had of a comeback.
“I love that everyone contributes in different ways,” said Stump. “We’re continually getting better. I’m excited for the playoffs.”
For Lynden, the lack of depth was even more evident when the team’s only senior, Claire DeVries, left with an injured ankle in the first quarter, and another starter, junior Chloe Wittenberg, was hampered by foul trouble the whole game.
Still, the Lions never gave up. Sophomore Mallary Villars slashed her way to a team-high 15 points, Newcomb hit a pair of 3-pointers and had 12 points as did another sophomore, Haylee Koetje.
“Their six girls battled their tails off,” said Bomber. “They played together and they played hard. There were a couple of times they could have just given up, but they never did.”
On a night that highlighted the best of girls basketball, there was only one negative: injuries. In addition to DeVries, Van Kooten went down with a knee injury with 31 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The extent of both players’ injuries was not known.
“She’s an incredible teammate,” Bomber said of Van Kooten. “She does whatever the team needs her to do and she celebrates the accomplishments of others.”
Lynden Christian winds up its regular season at Mount Baker on Monday, Jan. 31, and at home against Meridian on Friday, Feb. 4. Lynden finishes up at Sedro-Woolley on Monday and at home against Burlington-Edison on Thursday.