Lynden Christian girls basketball teams have accomplished a lot over the years, but on Wednesday, Jan. 8, the Lyncs reached an unprecedented milestone: the program’s 1,000th victory
“Our whole staff has a great respect for the tradition,” said LC coach Brady Bomber, whose team is 9-1 this season after the hard-fought 62-43 victory over Ferndale on Wednesday.
“We’ve tried to emphasize that the blue and white means something … that there are generations of women who this tradition means a lot to.”
The 1,000th victory is not just a record of longevity but a mark of the program’s incredible success. Since Lynden Christian started playing interscholastic games in the 1973-74 season, the Lyncs have a resume unmatched in Washington state:
* 12 state championships (6 more runner-ups)
* 25 district championships
* 27 league championships
* 36 state trophies in 38 state appearances
* only 1 losing season (their first when they went 2-3)
* an 84 percent winning percentage
* since 1978, an average of 23 wins a year
And while the records go back 46 years, the Lyncs’ success isn’t limited to the history books. LC currently has a streak of 14 straight years placing in the top four at state … and this year’s team is ranked in the top three in Class 1A.
But Bomber, who is in his sixth-year coaching at LC, is the first to give credit to his predecessors and the great individuals and teams who came before him and this year’s Lyncs.
The day before the 1,000th victory, Bomber took time out at his practice to introduce his current players to the coaches most responsible for starting and building Lynden Christian’s tradition: Sharon Strengholt and Curt DeHaan.
Strengholt took over the team from Rose Bos in 1975-76, when LC and the original Whatcom County League began playing a full slate of games and qualifying for state playoffs.
She coached for five seasons, taking the Lyncs to state for the first time in 1978, when they placed second, and culminating her career with back-to-back state titles in 1979 and ’80.
“We were blessed with a lot of good talent,” said Strengholt. “They were hard workers, team players, and they loved the game.”
The following year, DeHaan moved up from his JV coaching position to take over the varsity and in the next 34 years went on to win a state-record 722 games and eight state championships.
Like Bomber and Strengholt, DeHaan was quick to credit others — the assistant coaches, parents and families of the players, school administration, Lynden’s strong youth programs, and especially the athletes themselves.
“The athletes do the work, and we had so many great ones,” he said. “They had strong work ethics, and bought into the team concept. I think it is exciting to see the success carry from one generation to the next.”
For DeHaan, a Lynden native, the girls’ success was a natural result of the passion the town has for basketball.
“Both the Lynden Christian and Lynden boys teams were successful, and the girls programs just evolved from that,” he said.
Strengholt said she had no idea in 1980 that the program would continue to such historic heights four decades later, but she added that she wasn’t surprised either.
“Once a program is strong, it should stay strong (because) the older ones teach the younger ones,” she said. “In the end, you try to do your best and glorify God.”
Bomber said that goal remains the same nearly a half-century later.
“You can see Curt’s and Sharon’s fingerprints on what we’re doing,” he said, noting how DeHaan has taken him under his wing the past six years. “You look at Curt’s and Sharon’s teams, and it’s all about how we honor God, and how we treat people.”
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.