The Lynden Christian boys basketball team has arguably the best inside combo in the Northwest Conference, but it was the backcourt that sparked the unbeaten Lyncs to a 69-40 road victory over Sehome on Tuesday night, June 8.
Quick-handed seniors Cole Moorlag and Shale Whittern and sophomore Tyler Sipma ignited LC’s defense in the first half, limiting the Mariners to 15 points as the Lyncs ran to a 20-point lead at the break.
“We emphasized defense, and we did that well tonight.” said LC coach Tim Zylstra, whose squad raised its NWC and overall record to 9-0. “Defense keeps us in games even when our shots aren’t going in. It’s going to be our cornerstone.”
But the backcourt did more than defend. Moorlag and Sipma also contributed eight points each in the first half — Moorlag on drives to the basket and Sipma with a pair of 3-pointers. Moorlag would finish with a career-high 14 points. Another guard, reserve Griffin Dykstra, would add 8 points and two more 3s.
“Moorlag was awesome,” said Zylstra. “He got to the paint whenever he wanted, and he finished. That’s our senior leaders. The rest of the team feeds off them.”
Lynden Christian’s dynamic duo in the post — junior Andrew Hommes and senior Logan Dykstra — had their usual games: Hommes had 14 points, including a thunderous dunk, and Dykstra had 11 points, including a 3-pointer.
“Everybody is contributing,” said Moorlag. “Tonight it was the guards. Next game it’ll be someone else.”
For Sehome, LC’s pressure defense and fast-pace offense took them out of the game early.
“We played at their pace the first half, and you can’t do that,” said Sehome coach Skyler Gillespie, whose squad fell to 6-3 in the NWC and 7-3 overall. “We came out in the second half and played physical. We played with pride.”
Senior Matt Harris came off the bench to give Sehome a spark, sinking a pair of 3s and leading the team with 11 points. Seniors Elliott Tanovan and Micah Daheim and sophomore Mathew Storms had 6 points each, but Sehome’s point total tied its lowest of the season.
“LC is the toughest team around here,” said Sehome senior Jake Ortega. “They’ve got good athletes, but their fundamentals are so good.”
Both teams were ready to put this game behind them as they prepare for some big games in the last week and a half of the season.
The Lyncs have four games remaining, including two of their biggest tests. This Saturday, they are at undefeated Seattle Academy, which handed defending Class 1A state champion King’s its only loss this season. Then on June 16, LC is at Lynden in a game that probably will decide the “unofficial” NWC champion.
“Our mindset is to leave it all out on the court,” said Whittern, who along with Moorlag and Logan Dykstra also starred for LC’s outstanding football and baseball teams. “We just want to finish strong.”
Sehome hosts Ferndale on Thursday and then finishes with road games at Nooksack Valley on June 16 and at Sedro-Woolley on June 18.
For Ortega, the goal is simple: “We’ve got three games left. Ideally, we win them all.”
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.