If there was any doubt where the basketball capital of the state of Washington is, two high school sports websites proved what everyone in Whatcom County already knows: It’s Lynden.
Max Preps and Eli Sports Network recently released stories ranking the top prep basketball programs over the past decade, and Lynden and Lynden Christian were — not surprisingly — at the top or near the top of both boys and girls lists.
Max Preps, which used its own final top-25 annual rankings to determine the 15 most dominant boys programs over the past 10 years, had Lynden at No.5 and Lynden Christian at No.15.
What makes that even more impressive is that Max Preps’s annual rankings are for all classifications, so the Class 2A Lions and the Class 1A Lyncs were compared to schools with three, four and even eight times as many students.
“We never set out to be in any top 10 list, but I’m very proud of the players and coaches who have done it the right way,” said Lynden boys coach Brian Roper. “We’ve won a lot of games and had fun doing it.”
As it turned out, Lynden was highest and one of only two 2A schools in the top 15 (Clarkston was No.8). And Lynden Christian was the only 1A school in the top-15 list.
Boys: Lynden Tops 2A, LC Third In 1A, Lummi Fifth In 1B
The Eli Sports Network came up with a point system using top-eight state finishes over the past decade to determine the top five programs in each classification for both boys and girls.
And again, it’s no surprise that the Lions and Lyncs are at the top.
The Lynden boys far outdistanced the rest of the Class 2A field with 57 points. For the decade, the Lions compiled three state titles and eight top-three finishes. Clarkston was second with 35 points, and Northwest Conference rival Anacortes was fourth with 24 points.
The Lynden Christian boys finished third among Class 1A schools with 44 points behind Zillah’s 58, and King’s 56. The Lyncs had a pair of state championships, two more finals appearances, and seven trophies.
Adding to the Whatcom County mystique were the Lummi Nation boys, who finished fifth among 1B schools with 22 points thanks to four trophies, two finals appearances, and a state title.
When Eli Sports ranked the boys teams by their points regardless of classification, Lynden placed fifth and LC was seventh.
Girls: LC Best In 1A, Lynden Close Second At 2A
While the Whatcom County boys teams were outstanding the past decade, the local girls teams were even more remarkable.
Lynden Christian, with its four state titles and 10 top-four state finishes, far outdistanced all of the Class 1A programs with 71 points.
“Starting with Coach (Curt) DeHaan and his teams and a lot of girls who have sacrificed for the team’s success for 10 years … that’s a lot of people coming together for the good of the program,” said LC girls coach Brady Bomber, who noted that assistant coach Kelly Dykstra is the only person who has been involved in all 10 of those teams. “I’m just proud to be a part of it the past six years.”
In the 2A ranks, Lynden took second in 2A with 45 points thanks to its two state championships and nine trophies, finishing just one point behind W.F. West. NWC rival Burlington-Edison was fourth with 22 points.
Then, in the girls all-classification rankings, Lynden Christian was second behind Colton’s amazing 85 points (eight state titles in 10 years will do that), and Lynden placed fourth.
Combined Boys & Girls: LC Is No.1, Lynden Is No.2
Perhaps the most impressive fact was that of the nine schools that had both boys and girls programs in the top five of their classifications, Lynden and Lynden Christian were the only schools in the boys top 10 and girls top 10, and they finished as the top two in combined points.
Here are the combined boys and girls points standings for the nine schools with both teams in the top five: Lynden Christian (1A) 115, Lynden (2A) 102, Sunnyside Christian (1B) 96, King’s (1A) 85, Gonzaga Prep (4A) 69, Almira-Coulee-Hartline (1B) 69, Neah Bay (1B) 65, Brewster (2B) 52, Freeman (1A) 43.
“I’ve had a lot of time to reflect the past three months like everyone else on the globe,” said Roper of the Lynden community’s hoops success. “It’s a product of our history, our community, and the fact that this town is a little crazy about basketball. It’s been a shared journey with Roger (DeBoer, former LC boys coach), Brady and Rob (Adams, former Lynden girls coach). It’s been fun to go through this with them.”
Bomber said Whatcom County’s legacy of success continues to be an inspiration to younger players.
“The thing we’ve appreciated is that the players at the beginning of the decade had an impact on the ones who finished the decade,” he said. “The future generations are in the stands, and they learn from the older players. They can tell the future kids that it is possible.”