BELLINGHAM -- Defending state Class 2A champion Lynden apparently won't suffer from over-confidence despite having one of the state's most experienced teams.
The unbeaten Lions' 57-39 Northwest Conference boys' basketball victory over Squalicum was a showcase in focus for Lynden and in sportsmanship for both teams on Tuesday, Dec. 18.
Senior guard John Shine, who hit 9 of 14 field-goal attempts for a game-high 21 points, said the Lions (5-0 overall, 2-0 NWC) aren't likely to lose their focus.
"We just stay humble and stay focused because we're not all about ourselves," said Shine, whose 6 for 8 shooting for 14 points in the first half helped the Lions build a 38-21 advantage. "That's how we're coached."
Senior guard Dak Shagren, who made 8 of 12 shots for 17 points including 15 points in the first half, said over-confidence won't be a problem.
"I was extremely happy with how everybody shared the ball so well tonight," said Shagren, whose team has all but one player back. "This is a just a great group of guys to play with. I think (the team's focus) is a compliment to how hard we work in the weight room."
Lynden coach Brian Roper was impressed with how well the Storm (4-4, 0-2) kept their composure and never quit despite seeing the score more than doubled after three quarters at 49-24.
"We have so much respect for (Squalicum coach) Dave Dickson and his program. He's a class act," said Roper.
Even though such a lopsided loss wasn't easy to absorb for a team with a proud tradition, Dickson readily returned the compliment.
"It's a lot easier to be classy when you play against a team like Lynden that works hard and plays the game the way it should be played," Dickson said. "I was proud of my guys' effort. That didn't change with the scoreboard."
Lynden played intense yet poised man-to-man defense -- the Lions had nine steals in the first three quarters -- and was whistled for only six fouls over that stretch.
Lynden's focus showed in the opening minute, when Shagren scored on a steal and layup and Shine contributed two buckets, one a 3-pointer. Point guard Josh Kraght quickly added a 3 and Shagren then unleashed a barrage of shots, including three 3-pointers, to contribute 15 points to a 30-17 lead.
Senior post Matt Meyer helped set up much of the offense with 10 rebounds, including five in the third quarter as the Lions held the Storm without a field goal.
In fact, if anything, it was more fascinating to observe the forest of long arms that is Lynden's relentless defense than it was to watch the scoring. The Lions limited the Storm to 27 field goal attempts in the first three quarters and 10 baskets over that stretch.
"Marcus Fakkema gave us a terrific effort off the bench in the second half," said Roper of the muscular football line standout, who grabbed four rebounds and contributed an assist and a basket after checking in late in the third quarter. Scott Hastings, with five rebounds, two assists and two steals, also came up big in a reserve role for the 6-6 senior.
Senior co-captains Alex Yuska and Blake Harmon and junior Blake Youtsey combined for 23 points for the Storm, which displayed spirit by outscoring the Lions 15-8 in the final quarter.
Lynden's 66-38 league-opening victory over Bellingham four nights earlier became even more impressive when the Red Raiders pulled off a 65-57 upset over defending Class 1A champion Lynden Christian on Tuesday. Not long before that, the Lions -- with only a few days practice after winning the state football title -- doubled up the score on state tournament hopeful Sehome in a non-league game.
Squalicum's rugged early league schedule continues at Sehome on Thursday, Dec. 20. Lynden will host district playoff hopeful Burlington-Edison on Friday, Dec. 21.
LYNDEN 57, SQUALICUM 39
Lynden 20 18 11 8 -- 57
Squalicum 13 8 3 15 -- 39
Lynden: John Shine 21, Dak Shagren 17, Zach Vis 2, Josh Kraght 3, Matt Meyer 4, Jaremy Martin 4, Scott Hastings 4, Marcus Fakkema 2, Kyle Mark 0, Bret DeGraaff 0, Sterling Somers 0, Trey Shagren 0. Totals: 23-57 6-12 57.
Squalicum: Alex Yuska 9, Blake Youtsey 8, Blake Harmon 6, Ben Garcia 6, Tre Clark 0, Jonathan Whetnall 5, Luke Weber 0, Clark Hazlett 2, Chad Dickerson 3, John Zender 0, Harper Moore 0. Totals: 16-40 3-5 39.
3-pointers: Lynden 5 (Shagren 3), Squalicum 4 (Youtsey, Yuska, Whetnall, Dickerson). Rebounds: Lynden 38 (Meyer 10), Squalicum 18 (Yuska 6). Assists: Lynden 10 (Shagren, Kraght 3), Squalicum 8 (Youtsey 3). Fouls: Lynden 7, Squalicum 11.