The Squalicum boys basketball team wanted to see how it compared to the best. Lynden just wanted to see what it looks like to play some games.
Both teams got their wish as the Lions used a big first half to defeat the visiting Storm, 68-41, in a Northwest Conference game Tuesday night, Dec. 13.
“It’s great to be playing again,” said Lynden coach Brian Roper, whose defending Class 2A state champions played their first game of the season the night before. “They (the players) didn’t sign up just to practice.”
Despite basically starting two weeks behind everyone else because six of Lynden’s 10 varsity players were part of the football team’s state championship run, the Lions (2-0 overall and 2-0 in league) came out strong against the Storm.
Using their pressure defense and relentless board work, the Lions outscored Squalicum (2-3 overall and 1-2 in league) in the second quarter, 23-8, to take control of the game.
Senior Kobe Baar started a 9-0 Lynden run to open the period with a pair of buckets. Sophomore Brant Heppner scored inside, senior Coston “Bubba” Parcher hit a free throw, and junior Anthony Canales got inside for a reverse layup as the Lions pulled away to a 40-20 halftime lead.
“They’re just a really good team, and we dug ourselves in a big hole,” said Squalicum big man Peter Albert, who led the Storm with 12 points and 8 rebounds. “But we turned up the defense in the second half.”
The Storm, in fact, played the Lions pretty even in the second half, which pleased Squalicum coach Tyler Hannigan.
“We did play better in the second half,” he said. “We showed toughness and fought on the boards. We learned some things. Now whether we can apply them against Blaine (on Friday)…”
Canales led a balanced Lynden attack with 17 points and added 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Parcher had 13 points and 4 assists, Heppner had 12 points, Baar had 9, and senior Trey Smiley had 8. Junior Cameron Petersen pulled down a team-high 7 rebounds.
None of the Storm’s sharpshooters managed to find many open shots Tuesday night as Squalicum was only 2-of-12 on 3-pointers and had 22 turnovers. Seniors Xander Sledge and Ashton Engelhart finished with 8 and 7 points, respectively.
For Canales and Roper, Tuesday’s game was just the next step of a longer journey — a journey that has ended in March with the Lions winning three of the past four state tournaments.
“We’ve only had one full practice as a team,” reminded Canales, who was the state tournament MVP as a sophomore last year. “We’re always thinking about March, but you can’t think too far ahead. We have to take it one game at a time.”
Roper credited friend and former player Brady Bomber — who knows a little something about state success having won four of the past six Class 1A girls titles — with the quote, “Enjoy the journey and respect the process.”
“We want to get better every day, and our buy-in is high,” said Roper. “I like coaching these guys. I have to remind myself all the time that coaching and playing basketball is a gift. You have to appreciate everything.”
While the Storm host Blaine on Friday, the Lions will play their first away game of the season that night at Meridian.
HOOP NOTES: This Saturday, Dec. 17, Lynden will honor its 2012 boys state championship team. The squad will be part of a special luncheon and then be recognized at halftime of the varsity game against Mountlake Terrace. The game will start at 3 p.m.
Lynden 68, Squalicum 41
Squalicum 12 8 15 6—41
Lynden. 17 23 16 12—68
Squalicum: Donnelly 2, Jacobs 2, Nixon 6, Singh, Watt 2, Nichols, Engelhart 7, Sledge 8, Heaton 2, Pavia, Albert 12.
Lynden: Elsner, Parcher 13, Petersen 6, Matthew 3, Hanenburg, Van Dalen, Smiley 8, Canales 17, Heppner 12, Baar 9.