DEMING - Lynden Christian freshman Kara Bajema is accustomed to competing both with and against two current Division I college athletes outside school, so she had no jitters while making her first start.
"Not at all. I just don't get nervous," she said with a smile after producing 12 points, including eight in the first half of LC's 62-24 Northwest Conference girls' basketball victory over young Mount Baker on Friday, Dec. 21.
"I've just learned to have that mindset," said Bajema, a 5-foot-11 forward who grew up athletically with sister Coryn Bajema (who started as a freshman in soccer for the South Carolina Gamecocks) and Coryn's close friend Jasmine Hommes (now playing basketball as a freshman for Montana State). "I just know I can't let a mistake bother me."
Another big reason Kara Bajama played with obvious confidence is that her raft of talented teammates all contributed solid efforts - in fact, seven of them.
While Bajema started in place of standout guard Sally Vlas, who was ill, regulars Courtney Hollander, Karley De Jager, Kayla Tiemersma and point guard Makayla Lancaster all played with poise and polish while building a 47-15 lead halfway into the third quarter with a 15-0 run.
By halftime, in fact, all five starters for the Lyncs (7-1 overall, 3-0 NWC) had turned in numbers like three or more in at least two of four categories - baskets, rebounds, assists or steals.
The three girls coach Curt DeHaan brought in off the bench in the first half - sophomore guard Kassidy Aldrich, sophomore post Sara Dougan and freshman forward Emma Stump - combined for 10 points, 11 rebounds and two steals to help the Lyncs to a 32-15 halftime advantage.
Aldrich shot 5 for 7 from the field, including 2 for 3 from 3-point range, to finish with a game-high 13 points and contributed a game-high three of the quick Lyncs' 12 steals.
"We were able to get the ball up and down real well and get good looks in transition," said De Haan, whose team shot a fast-paced 57 times in the first three quarters and finished 27 for 69 while cutting its turnover total to 15 after making more miscues than the Lyncs would have liked in recent victories.
"Kara did a good job shooting from outside (5 for her first 9 attempts) in her first start," the longtime coach said. "And Kassidy (who came up recently from the junior varsity) played real well."
Hollander, a 5-11 junior forward, seemed to play several inches taller while grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds, scoring eight points, making three steals and dishing six assists, all in the first three quarters. Lancaster, who contributed three assists, two steals and five points, had no turnovers at point guard.
Up front, De Jager and Tiemersma combined for 11 rebounds and 13 points, all when it mattered.
The ball just wouldn't fall for Mount Baker (3-4, 0-2), which has no seniors. The Mountaineers couldn't control the ball against the Lyncs' consistently withering man-to-man defense.
Baker's Emily Yost and Jessa Baisden hit 3-pointers to end the Lyncs' 15-0 third-quarter run. Yost led the Mounties with nine points, Emma Lallas had four assists, and freshman Emily Brandland grabbed nine rebounds while continuing to play hard despite an off-night shooting against the Lyncs' tall and talented defenders.
LC's impressive teamwork showed with 17 assists. Lancaster and Tiemersma had three each to support Hollander's six.
Kara Bajema said the success of sister Coryn and Hommes has inspired her.
"It makes me want to work toward what they're doing," said Kara, who is certainly off to a fine start.
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 62, MOUNT BAKER 24
Lynden Christian 16 16 17 13- 62
Mount Baker 4 11 6 3-24
LC: Kara Bajema 12, Courtney Holland 8, Makayla Lancaster 5, Karley De Jager 9, Kayla Tiemersma 4, Sara Dougan 7, Kassidy Aldrich 13, Emma Stump 2, Morgan Van Kooten 2, Haley Hollander 0, Carli Tjoelker 0. Totals 27-69 4-10 62.
Mount Baker: Emily Yost 9, Jessa Baisden 6, Korrinna Camacho 4, Emily Brandland 1, Rayedeen Engels 4, Taylor Leger 0, Jordan Fleming 0, Emma Leigh Cline 0, Emma Lallas 0. Totals 9-57 3-5 24.
3-pt: LC 4 (Lancaster 2), Mount Baker 3 (Baisden 2). Rebounds: LC 55 (Hollander 12); Mount Baker 31 (Brandland 9). Assists: LC 17 (Hollander 6), Mount Baker 6 (Lallas 4). Fouls: LC 13, Mount Baker 7. Turnovers: LC 15, Mount Baker 31.