This one was closer — much, much closer — but unfortunately for the Lynden Christian boys basketball team the outcome was the same as the Lyncs fell to Seattle Academy, 59-57, in the semifinals of the Class 1A State Invitational on Thursday, July 1.
The loss dropped Lynden Christian (13-2) into the consolation bracket of the eight-team, double-elimination tournament. The Lyncs will face King’s on Friday at 5 p.m. at Cedar Park Christian High School in Bothell.
Friday’s winner will take third place in the “unofficial” state tournament, and the loser fifth. Each will receive replicas of the official state trophies.
The Cardinals made a 7-0 run to lead the back-and-forth contest, 59-53, with just over a minute left in the game.
But Griffin Dykstra hit a 3-pointer with 56 seconds left, and Jamison Hintz sank a free throw with 8.5 seconds left to bring LC within two. The Lyncs got a rebound, but Logan Dykstra’s forced shot under pressure just missed sending the game into overtime.
“I think everyone got their $5’s worth,” LC coach Tim Zylstra said of the ticket price. “It had the feel of a (state) semifinal game.”
The fourth-seeded Lyncs were hoping to return to the state championship game — official or not — but couldn’t get by top seed Seattle Academy (18-1). The Cardinals are the only team Lynden Christian couldn’t beat this season, LC having lost to them by 18 on June 12.
But this time it was different even though it started as badly as it could.
Already down two starters who couldn’t make the tournament this week, the Lyncs lost another when when sparkplug point guard Tyler Sipma sprained his ankle 10 seconds into the game.
“My heart sank,” said Zylstra. “We could have given up, but we battled. I am so proud of them.”
That meant Lynden Christian had to go to its young and inexperienced bench against a team with four senior starters, three of them all-league, two of them four-year starters, and one an all-stater.
And, boy, did the youngsters come through. Among the heroes:
* Hintz, who stepped into one of the starting spots and finished with a game-high 18 points, including three 3-pointers, and enough emotion to fill the gym.
“They’re a great team,” said the junior guard. “But we’re hard workers. We love the game, and we’re a family. Losing’s part of life, but this makes us look forward to next year.”
* Griffin Dykstra, who took over the point guard duties and finished with 10 points, including a couple of clutch 3-pointers.
“We lost to them by 18 (the first time), so we knew what we had to do,” said the sophomore. “When Tyler went down, we had to step up. And I think overall, we played well.”
* Crew Bosman, another junior who stepped into a starting role. His assignment: Stay with Seattle Academy’s all-state guard Leo DeBruhl. And Bosman never backed down, helping the Lyncs hold the Cardinals to their second lowest point total of the year.
* And Jeremiah Wright. The 6-5 freshman only saw limited playing time all season, but in the biggest game of the year, he scored six points in a second-quarter run that gave LC its first lead of the game. He finished with 8 points as did junior Andrew Hommes.
“It was neat to see some of those young guys do well,” said Zylstra, whose team loses only three seniors. “This experience will be invaluable to them.”
Maybe it was appropriate that Logan Dykstra had the final shot, forced as it was after the play had broken down with time running out. The senior post was the only returning starter from last year’s Class 1A state runner-up squad and has been the team’s inspirational leader all year long.
“It’s hard to take,” said Zylstra of the loss. “I’m proud of all of them. But I couldn’t be more proud of Logan. He’s been a great senior leader.”
He will have one more chance to lead the young and inexperienced Lyncs when they face off Friday with their old nemisis, King’s, the team that beat them in overtime in last year’s state finals. The Knights lost to Life Christian Academy in Thursday’s other semifinal.
“It’s our last time playing together,” said Zylstra of Friday’s game. “I know we’ll rise to the occasion.”
Seattle Academy was led by DeBruhl and Teja Singh, who had 16 points each. The Cardinals will play Life Christian Academy on Friday at 7 p.m. for the mythical state championship.
Seattle Academy 59, Lynden Christian 57
Lynden Christian 16 10 17 14—57
Seattle Academy 19 7 13 21—59
Lynden Christian: Jamison Hintz 18, Griffin Dykstra 10, Crew Bosman 2, Logan Dykstra 6, Andrew Hommes 8, Jeremiah Wright 8, Tyler Sipma, Will Colwell 5.
Seattle Academy: Teja Singh 16, Leo DeBruhl 16, Eddie Hulit, Josh Davydov, Finn McSherry 2, Carson DeBruhl 6, Joe Cookson 3, Logan Britt 14, Isaac Allnutt 2.
Class 1A State Invitational
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30
Lynden Christian 82, Freeman 64
Seattle Academy 84, Chelan 60
King’s 70, Toppenish 63
Life Christian Academy 72, Cedar Park Christian (Bothell) 60
THURSDAY, JULY 1
Freeman 71, Chelan 66 (loser out)
Cedar Park Christian 70, Toppenish 58 (loser out)
Seattle Academy 59, Lynden Christian 57
Life Christian Academy 98, King’s 75
FRIDAY, JULY 2
Freeman vs. Cedar Park Christian, 3 p.m. (winner fourth, loser sixth)
Lynden Christian vs. King’s, 5 p.m. (winner third, loser fifth)
Seattle Academy vs. Life Christian Academy, 7 p.m. (winner first, loser second)
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.