BELLINGHAM - Lynden Christian guard Sally Vlas estimated the Lyncs spend half their practices drilling defense.
LC runs its defensive shell drill until it's perfected, and Sehome received a sour taste of the result.
LC took an early lead and left Sehome with a 51-34 season-opening non-conference win against Sehome Thursday, Nov. 29, at Sehome High School. The Lyncs forced 16 first-half turnovers and 20 in the game.
"I was real pleased," Lynden Christian coach Curt De Haan said of his defense. "We have three of our starters back from last year, and they're three outstanding defensive players. Everyone is buying into what we do defensively, and we really set the tone."
Makayla Lancaster, Kara Bajema, Courtney Hollander, Karley De Jager and Sally Vlas each scored eight or more points to lead the Lyncs' balanced attack.
"I'm overwhelmed with happiness with the way we played," Vlas said. "It felt good to get out on the court and set the defensive tone."
The Lyncs didn't waste any time.
After LC's first basket, the Lyncs (1-0) applied full-court pressure, causing turnover after turnover throughout the first half. Lancaster nabbed a team-high four steals, and Hollander and Vlas had three.
Sehome (1-1) managed only eight first-half points - three in the first quarter and five in the second. The Lyncs held recent Western Washington University commit Rachel Albert to two points on 1 of 8 shooting in the first two quarters.
"Rachel Albert is an outstanding basketball player," De Haan said. "We rotated three different players on her, and I thought we were able to do a pretty good job on her."
Hollander, Kayla Tiemersma and Sara Dougan shared time guarding the Sehome standout.
The Mariners graduated the majority of their varsity roster after last season and struggled against LC's pressure with a handful of new guards leading Sehome's backcourt. The Mariners suffered a 7-minute, 50-second scoring drought in the first half.
While Sehome struggled to score, the Lyncs put up plenty of points in their new-look balanced attack.
Graduated standout Jasmine Hommes frequently served as LC's go-to scorer a year ago, but Lynden Christian showed it's still a force on the offensive end with her gone.
Lancaster scored eight first-half points to help LC build a commanding 30-8 halftime lead. Lynden Christian went on a 23-2 run over a 12:30 span in the first and second quarter.
"We talked about that," De Haan said of being well-balanced on offense. "A player like Jasmine Hommes doesn't come around very often. We really want a balanced scoring attack as we go into the season. That was exciting to see take place right away in our first game."
Lancaster and De Jager finished with 10 points, while Bajema, Vlas and Hollander each had eight. Kayla Tiemersma scored three points, but hauled in a game-high nine rebounds.
The Mariners showed no quit in the second half, as Sehome rallied to outscore LC 26-21 in the final two quarters.
"LC is a tough, aggressive team," Sehome coach Kim Kirk said. "I thought in the second half, we came out a lot better. We challenged our kids to compete, and I thought they did that. One of the kids I was really pleased with was Maddy Bryan. She is a sophomore, and it's her first time starting on varsity. I thought she did really well on both ends of the floor."
Albert scored 10 of her 12 points in the second half and grabbed a team-high nine boards. Bryan finished with seven points and five rebounds.
"We're young," Kirk said. "We only have one returning starter. I think it was a bit of an eye-opening for us. I think we got confidence in ourselves and started working together. At one point we cut the lead to 14."
Lynden Christian hosts King's next at 7:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, while Sehome hosts Nooksack Valley at 7:15 p.m. on Friday.
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862.
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 51, SEHOME 34
Lynden Chr. 13 17 10 11 - 51
Sehome 3 5 10 16 - 34
Lynden Christian: Makayla Lancaster 10, Haley Hollander 0, Kara Bajema 8, Courtney Hollander 8, Sally Vlas 8, Karley De Jager 10, Sara Dougan 1, Emma Stump 1, Kayla Tiemersma 3, Carli Tjoelker 0, Morgan Van Kooten 2. Team totals: 20-51 8-13 51.
Sehome: Rachel Albert 12, Sarah Swan 0, Meagan McIntyre 3, Megan Bayless 6, Mackenzie Caldwell 0, Alia Jones 0, Hallie Messenger 6, Danielle Stasser 0, Maddy Bryan 7. Team totals: 11-38 11-14 34.
3-ptg: Lynden Christian 2 (Makayla Lancaster/Kara Bajema 1), Sehome 3 (Megan Bayless 2). Rebounds: Lynden Christian 34 (Kayla Tiemersma 9), Sehome 22 (Rachel Albert 9). Assists: Lynden Christian 8 (Hollander 4), Sehome 4 (Maddy Bryan 2). Fouls: Lynden Christian 17, Sehome 10. Turnovers: Lynden Christian 11, Sehome 20.
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.