It may have been a defeat in the scorebook, but the Lynden Christian girls basketball team was looking at Friday night’s 60-54 loss to Eastlake as a victory in the long run.
The tall and talented Wolves handed the host Lyncs their first loss of the season in the championship game of the eight-team Lynden Christmas Classic.
In Friday’s other games, Ferndale fell to Washougal in the final minute, 60-55; Arlington beat White River, 68-55; and Prosser pounded Langley Christian, 82-56.
Eastlake post Ava Schmidt was named the tournament MVP. Joining her on the all-tournament first team were Grace Hintz of Lynden Christian, Jenna Villa of Arlington, Sofia Aluas of Eastlake, and Laylee Dixon and Adrianna Malinez of Prosser.
On the second team were Samara Morrow of Arlington, Choloe Johnson of Washougal, Lexie Banks of White River, and Krista Kostoff and Kaylia Jackson of Eastlake.
Eastlake 60, Lynden Christian 54
Lynden Christian coach Brady Bomber was excited for the reception the three-day holiday tournament received.
“It was a great crowd (Friday night), and we are super thankful for the community to come out to watch,” said Bomber, who is already making plans for next year’s event.
And like this year, when the tournament drew five highly ranked Class 4A, 3A, and 2A teams, Bomber wants to keep inviting the best. “We wanted our girls to have unique experiences, to face adversity. So we bring in talent like we had this week.”
Eastlake, ranked No.10 among Class 4A schools, had the most talent and the most size. The Wolves (7-2) from Sammamish swept all three games in the tournament thanks to a pair of 6-foot-2 girls, including tournament MVP Ava Schmidt.
But the Lyncs (9-1) are no slouch. Despite being the smallest school in the tournament — Eastlake is roughly six times larger — LC has 14 state championships to its credit and has won three of the past four Class 1A state titles.
And after a slow start when they could only score six points in the first period, LC played Eastlake even. The Lyncs battled back to within four several times in the fourth quarter, the last on sophomore Grace Hintz’s 3-pointer with two minutes to go.
But a loose ball ended up in Schmidt’s hands and quickly ended up in the basket and when the Lyncs were forced to foul, Eastlake made them pay by sinking eight free throws in the final two minutes. Hintz hit two more 3-pointers but it wasn’t enough.
Hintz finished with 25 points and senior Demi Dykstra added 7 points, but the normally potent LC offense struggled against the bigger Eastlake defenders.
The Lyncs defense, however, was up to the task, especially seniors Taryn Herwerden and Reganne Arnold, junior Tabby DeJong, and freshman Ella Fritts, all of whom battled the Eastlake posts all night. LC held Schmidt to 14 points, 10 below what she’d been averaging in the tourney.
“They’re so tough,” said Bomber of the Wolves. “There were no easy stops for us. But if your team plays hard and has a good attitude, that’s all you can ask. We are excited about the opportunity to learn from this. We’ll be better for it in February and March.”
Herwerden, one of eight returnees from last March’s state championship team, said the tournament was fun. But like her coach, she could see the extra benefits.
“Obviously we wanted a different outcome (Friday), but it was a good three days,” she said. “We wanted to get challenged and see what we’re capable of. We were down the whole game, but we never gave up. We want to play challenging teams like that.”
Eastlake 54, Lynden Christian 46
Eastlake 12 14 11 17—54
Lynden Christian 6 10 13 17—46
Eastlake: Aluas 16, McCoy 2, Kostoff 10, Boulanger, Baumgartner, Jackson 7, Schmidt 14, Sefair-Lopez 5.
Lynden Christian: Hagen, De. Dykstra 7, Herwerden 3, Fritts 3, Hintz 25, Fay, DeJong 4, Poag 2, Arnold 2.
Washougal 60, Ferndale 55
It wasn’t the way the Ferndale girls basketball team wanted to end its three days at the Lynden Christmas Classic — especially the final minute and a half — but there were still smiles even after losing to the Panthers Friday afternoon.
“We wanted to play some basketball during the break, bond as a team, and get experience against some teams that go to state,” said senior Ellie Ochoa.
Well … check, check, and check. The Golden Eagles (5-4) got to do all of the above even though they lost all three games to ranked teams or, in the case of Washougal, a program that has recently won state titles and been to state 10 of the last 11 tournaments.
“Overall, it was a great experience,” said Ferndale coach Terri Yost, who hosted the team for a Christmas party afterward. “You get to compete against a lot of good teams and the team gets to grow together.”
Friday’s game was close throughout thanks to Ferndale stingy defense and its veteran leaders. With senior guards Ellie Ochoa and Cailyn Kessen and junior guard Maleah Singson providing the pressure, the Golden Eagles held Washougal to 34 points through three quarters.
Unfortunately, foul trouble and bad breaks at the end doomed the Golden Eagles, who led most of the way in a game that was close throughout.
After Ochoa made two free throws to give Ferndale a 53-52 lead with 1:22 left, the Golden Eagles couldn’t stop the Panthers from scoring the next eight points on a 3-pointer and five free throws in the final 48 seconds. That put Washougal up 60-53 and made Kessen’s layup just before the buzzer meaningless.
The seniors also led the way for Ferndale on offense with Ochoa collecting 17 points and Kessen hitting two 3s and scoring 12 points. Senior Madisyn Butenschoen and Singson added 7 points each with the junior making two 3s.
“The four of us have played together the last 10 years,” said Kessen of Ochoa, Butenschoen, and injured starter Ashley Lang, who is expected to return next week. “We realized this was our last (holiday) tournament today. Now we want to make it to state. That’s our goal.”
Like Kessen, Ochoa kept the tournament in perspective.
“It’s been a lot of ‘lasts’ for us,” she said of her senior season. “We are trying to really embrace it. Now we want to leave it all out on the court.”
Washougal 60, Ferndale 55
Ferndale 11 12 14 18—55
Washougal 9 12 13 26—60
Ferndale: Kessen 12, Fox, Ochoa 17, Mad. Butenschoen 7 , Mal. Butenschoen 2, Washington 4, Singson 7, White 3, Stanley 3.
Washougal: Johnson 21, Stinchfield 2, Gibbons, Chase, Is. Albaugh 13, Jones 12, L. Albaugh 2, Ir. Albaugh 5, Alldrin 2, Vaughan 1, Wilson 2.
Trojan Storm Winter Classic
It was “close but no cigar” for Whatcom County as three of our four girls teams lost Friday at the Trojan Storm Winter Classic hosted by Squalicum.
The lone winner was Mount Baker (3-5), which dominated Friday Harbor, 65-25. Senior Maddy Barter led the Mounties’ balanced attack with 27 points and a pair of 3s. Senior Jojo Lindsey had 12 points, and junior Faith Wilson and freshman Natalie Van Lieu added 10 points each as seven of the eight Mounties scored.
Meridian (1-5) rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit but couldn’t quite catch Lincoln (Seattle) and lost, 40-38. Seniors Maris Baklund and Avery Neal had 12 points each to lead the Trojans.
Squalicum (3-6) never got its offense going and lost to Bellevue Christian, 43-26. Juniors Mari Binning and Makayla Heaton had 10 and 6 points, respectively. The Storm closed to within six points late in the game only to have the Vikings make 7 of 8 free throws at the end.
Blaine (2-5) rallied from a 15-point halftime deficit, but the Borderites’ comeback came up just short in a 56-54 non-league loss to Lakewood. Junior Deja Dube had 21 points and junior Jordyn Vezzetti added 18 points for Blaine.
Wilbur-Ellis Sundome Shootout
Whatcom boys squads won three of four games in the second day of the 28-team tournament in Yakima on Friday.
Meridian (5-3) won its second game of the tournament by beating Wapato, 53-43, thanks to a 15-4 run to finish the game. Jaeger Fyfe had a team-high 18 points, fellow sophomore Talon Jenkins added 14 points thanks to four 3-pointers, and junior Jacob Amundson had 8 points.
Sehome (8-1) bounced back from its first loss of the season to thump Grandview, 67-48. Senior Grey Garrison had 20 points, senior Mat Storms had 19 points and three 3-pointers, and senior Grant Kepley added 19 more points for the Mariners.
Lynden (6-1) completed a sweep of the Yakima Valley’s best with a 58-53 victory over Prosser. Junior Anthony Canales had 20 of his 27 points in the second half to hold off the Mustangs. On Thursday, the Lions beat Grandview, 67-51, with senior Coston Parcher collecting 19 points and 8 rebounds, Canales finishing with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and senior Trey Smiley adding 7 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists.
In the other game involving a county team, Nooksack Valley (6-3) lost to Ellensburg, 49-38.
Tournament of Champions Holiday Classic
The Squalicum boys (4-6) nearly pulled off the upset of the tournament, losing to Woodinville, 58-51. The Falcons came into the tournament at Franklin High School in Seattle ranked sixth among Class 4A schools.
Mount Vernon Christian Holiday Tournament
The Lummi Nation boys wrapped up their three-day tournament Friday by beating Orcas Island, 63-49. Senior Richard Wilson and freshman Jerome Toby had 27 points each with Toby hitting five 3-pointers.
The victory, which avenged an earlier loss to Orcas Island this season, improved the Blackhawks’ record to 6-6.
Earlier in the tournament, Lummi Nation lost to Mossyrock, 63-51; Wahkiahkum, 60-58; and Neah Bay, 70-63.
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.