The Lynden boys basketball team unleashed a suffocating defense to shut down Blaine, 75-47, on Thursday night, Jan. 12, in a showdown between two teams undefeated in the Northwest Conference.
“Our kids like to play defense,” said Lynden coach Brian Roper, whose squad improved to 11-1 overall and 8-0 league play. “They take a lot of pride in it. It’s what we hang our hat on.”
The pride of the Lions certainly showed itself especially early as Lynden held a high-powered Blaine offense to just four second-quarter points and 13 in the first half. The Borderites’ point total also was a season low and the loss snapped their 10-game winning streak.
“Their key was to take away the 3-pointer, which they did,” noted Blaine coach Nate Sullivan, whose team fell to 10-2 overall and 7-1 in the NWC. Blaine only had four 3-pointers, three of them in the final period against the Lynden reserves.
If the visiting Lions needed any more incentive besides playing to stay atop the NWC standings, they only needed to remember last season when the Borderites upset Lynden on the same floor.
The game propelled both teams to bigger and better things — the Borderites reaching the Class 1A state tournament for the first time in 18 years and the Lions going on to claim the Class 2A state championship.
When asked if last season’s game was on his mind, Lynden senior Coston “Bubba” Parcher smiled and said, “Oh, yeah. This meant a lot. They stormed the court (last year). We didn’t want to lose to them again.”
Parcher’s shooting might have been the main reason the Lions didn’t lose. The point guard had a career-high 31 points, including seven 3-pointers, which they’re still checking on to see if that’s a Lynden record. He was 12 of 17 from the field and his seven 3s came on just nine attempts. Oh, and he also had 6 rebounds.
Twenty-one of Parcher’s points came in the first half when he not only outscored the entire Blaine team but helped the Lions take an insurmountable 19-point lead.
“My teammates kept finding me,” he said, “and it just kept going in.”
When the Borderites tried to stop Parcher in the second half, junior Anthony Canales took over. Last year’s state tournament MVP had a quiet — for him — seven points before halftime but then exploded for 15 points in the third quarter as the Lions eventually built their lead to more than 30 points.
Canales would finish with 22 points. Senior Kobe Baar added 6 points, but no other Lion had more than five.
For Blaine, Noah Tavis led the way despite playing much of the game with a painfully bruised thigh. The junior forward had 14 points on 5 of 7 shooting from the field, hitting two of his three 3-point attempts, and making both free throws.
But Blaine’s Big Three scorers only combined for 19 points and one 3-pointer with Matthew Russ collecting 9 points, Lucas Smith 6, and Carson Lehnert 4.
Credit the defense of Baar, Parcher, and Canales and the rebounding of sophomore Brant Heppner and senior Trey Smiley. Heppner would finish with 11 rebounds, and Smiley had 5 to go along with 5 assists.
In the end, Roper was gracious in victory knowing it was a case of everything going right for the Lions and wrong for the Borderites.
“They’re a good team,” the Lynden coach said. “It just wasn’t their night.”
Sullivan also said it wasn’t the Borderites’ night, especially on the boards, where the Lions dominated, 33-20.
“We need to rebound the ball against playoff-caliber teams,” said Sullivan. “That first quarter set the tone. We can’t give them two or three shots at the hoop.”
Blaine will have a chance to rebound on Monday when the Borderites travel to Mount Baker. Lynden’s next game also is Monday when the Lions face North Kitsap in a special non-league contest at the ShoWare Center in Kent at 2 p.m.
Lynden 75, Blaine 47
Lynden 15 17 25 18—75
Blaine 9 4 14 20—47
Lynden: Elsner, Parcher 31, Petersen 2, Matthews 5, Hanenburg, Van Dalen, Smiley 2, Ayres, Canales 22, Heppner 4, Baar 6, Bowles, Stapleton.
Blaine: Smith 6, Creasey-Pulphus 7, Russ 9, Koreski 1, Audette 1, Dalry 5, Censale, Lehnert 4, Tavis 14, Ihde.
Jim Carberry is a former Bellingham Herald sports editor and author of several books on Whatcom County prep basketball. Follow him on Twitter @whatcomhoops and visit the Whatcom Hoops Facebook page.