BLAINE -- Young state tournament hopefuls Lynden Christian and Blaine combined for 44 turnovers, yet both coaches and the Lyncs' defensive standout agreed the game was anything but sloppy.
LC's 38-36 girls' basketball victory over the Borderites was inelegant, but it was also intense and intriguing.
The Northwest Conference opener, which matched potential-laden Class 1A powers with a raft of returnees from state teams, was a defensive showcase for the only senior on the court on Friday, Dec. 14.
Kayla Tiemersma, LC's 6-foot third-year post, held Blaine's most explosive scorer, hard-working 5-10 sophomore post Taylor V'Dovec, to one field-goal attempt for the game.
V'Dovec displayed fine poise, refusing to force anything, and finished with eight points, including 6 for 6 free throw shooting plus her basket, but Tiemersma's toughness made all the difference.
Alexis McElwain hustled hard to pick up the slack with a game-high 17 points for Blaine (4-2 overall), but the Lyncs (5-1) got off a lot more shots in the fourth quarter -- just enough to win.
"I want to call this one of my strongest nights," said Tiemersma, who matched Karley De Jager and hustling teammate Sally Vlas, a 5-6 guard, with a game-high seven rebounds -- a total also reached by V'Dovec.
"Taylor was on a select team with me three years ago, so I know her moves," said Tiemersma. "I knew what I was going up against. I told myself I needed to 'woman up.' I knew I needed to step up. I knew I needed to buck up and play my heart out."
The game was tied at 32 after three quarters. LC missed its first nine field-goal attempts of the fourth period, but Tiemersma ended that streak of frustration with a 15-footer with 3:10 remaining for a 34-33 LC lead.
Sophomore point guard Makayla Lancaster then hit her only two shots of the final period, both short runners with 2:40 and 1:38 left. The second basket provided the game's final two points and negated four points by McElwain, who was the only Blaine scorer in the fourth quarter as the Lyncs held the Borderites to only five field-goal attempts. McElwain finished shooting 5 for 10 from the field.
"Lancaster hit a couple of great shots," said LC coach Curt DeHaan. "The kids did a good job of not letting Blaine get their shots. Kayla was outstanding and (6-3 sophomore) Sara Dougan did some good defensive work, too."
First-year Blaine coach Ryan Pike agreed the defensive effort was all-out for both teams.
"It seemed like the turnovers (24 by Blaine, 20 by LC) were about 95 percent forced and 5 percent unforced," he said, indicating how proud he was that his team could give the Lyncs all they could handle and then some.
Karley De Jager, LC's 6-0 junior post in the Lyncs' double-post offense, praised both teams.
"Both of us really played tough defense," she said. "Kayla rocked it. This feels good, because we've been working very hard on our defense. It's so exciting to see the potential of our young players."
Breanna Chau led Blaine with three steals and Courtney Hollander had a game-high four thefts for LC as the teams combined for an impressive 18, including 10 by the Lyncs. Hollander led LC with 12 points and Lancaster scored eight.
LC's Kara Bajema, a quick 5-11 freshman, contributed four points, three rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal in an 18-minute stint off the bench.
Pike figured the effort was there, but not the shooting. LC held the Borderites to only 31 field-goal attempts and they made 10.
"I couldn't have asked for more effort," Pike said. "McElwain plays hard like that every time out. I've never seen her not give everything she has."
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 38, BLAINE 36
Lynden Chr. 10 15 7 6 - 38
Blaine 11 10 11 4 - 46
Lynden Christian: Courtney Hollander 12, Makayla Lancaster 8, Kara Bajema 4, Sally Vlas 4, Karley De Jager 4, Sara Dougan 0, Kayla Tiemersma 6. Totals: 14-57 9-10 38.
Blaine: Alexis McElwain 17, Breanna Chau 6, Taylor V'Dovec 8, Olivia Olason 2, Mandy Hayes 3, Rhiana Breedlove 0. Totals: 10-31 15-2336.
3-pointers: Lynden Christian 1 (Hollander); Blaine 1 (Hayes). Rebounds: Lynden Christian 36 (De Jager, Tiemersma, Vlas 7); Blaine 25 (V'Dovec 7). Assists: Lynden Christian 9 (Lancaster 3); Blaine 4 (Hayes, V'Dovec 2). Fouls: Lynden Christian 11, Blaine 16. Turnovers: Lynden Christian 20, Blaine 24