There is inexperienced, and then there is Lynden Christian girls basketball inexperienced.
In a battle of squads with minimal varsity experience returning, it was the Lyncs who rolled to a 79-21 victory over visiting Squalicum on Thursday night, Dec. 9.
“There have been a lot of firsts for this group,” said Lynden Christian coach Brady Bomber, whose team evened its record at 2-2 with the Northwest Conference win. “They’re getting experience in varsity games. We just want to continue to improve and get better every day.”
Having graduated five senior starters who lost only one game in two years, won one Class 1A state championship and probably would have won another had there been playoffs last year, Lynden Christian had to restock its talent shelves this season.
Fortunately for the Lyncs, there was a lot remaining starting with all-state guard Libby Stump, who has signed to play for the University of Montana next year. Stump had 21 points, including three 3-pointers, all in the first half.
Other returnees contributed with junior guard Demi Dykstra adding 12 points, senior Alli Van Kooten having 9, and senior Charley Dykstra tossing in 7. Even varsity newcomers freshman Grace Hintz and junior Daisy Poag got in the act scoring 11 and 9 points, respectively.
“We had a lot of seniors last year, so everyone has to step up,” Demi Dykstra said of this year’s squad. “Our goal is to try to be the best version of ourselves. We’re getting there.”
It didn’t take long for the Lyncs to show their dominance Thursday as they stormed to an 18-2 lead and were up by 37 at halftime. A running clock the second half and LC’s defense, which held Squalicum to five points after halftime, kept the score down.
“You can’t do much against a team that shoots the lights out,” said Squalicum coach Ray Ootsey, whose squad dropped to 1-1. “They’re a tough team to play if you don’t have experience together.”
Inexperience was only the first challenge for the Storm, who only have two seniors on the roster. Three of Squalicum’s tallest players also missed the game, leaving the Storm with a starting lineup averaging 5-foot-7 against an LC lineup whose shortest player was 5-8.
“I’m proud of the girls and their effort,” said the ever-positive Ootsey. “They could have withered being shorthanded against a physical team.”
Bomber also praised the Storm’s effort: “Ray has them playing hard. They battled us for all 32 (minutes), and they were shorthanded.”
For one Squalicum player, Shelby Smithson, it was not only just her second game with the Storm, it was only her second high school basketball game ever. The junior transferred back to Squalicum this year after moving to Idaho after fifth grade and sitting out her freshman and sophomore seasons.
Despite being one of the shortest players on the court, the 5-6 guard led Squalicum with 11 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
“It’s been great to be back with the people I started (playing basketball) with,” said Smithson. “We knew it would be a tough one (against LC), but we like challenges. We’re looking to make the top six in the league.”
Unfortunately for the Storm, no one else had more than four points against the Lynden Christian defense with all-Whatcom Hoops guard Mari Binning and wing Callie McEachran held to a combined 5 points.
Despite losing their first two games of the season to Class 3A powers Snohomish and Arlington, Bomber said he was not disappointed in where the Lyncs were. Instead, he wanted the girls to focus on enjoying the season.
“We’ve experienced both wins and losses,” said Bomber. “We’re still learning, and it’s fun to see their growth.”
Squalicum is on the road for its next game on Monday at Sedro-Woolley. Lynden Christian is off until visiting Oak Harbor on Tuesday.