LYNDEN - Lynden senior post Matt Meyer thought it was "pretty sweet" when the crowd erupted after he scored on a baseline jumper off an assist from John Shine nearly six minutes into the Lions' showdown with Lynden Christian on Friday, Jan. 11.
"The crowd was doing the 'Silent Night,' where they were quiet until we scored our 10th point," said Meyer, whose bucket actually gave Lynden 11 points. "Then they exploded and got so loud, it was amazing."
It was nothing compared to the cheers that awaited Meyer in overtime, though, as he scored six of his 13 points in the bonus period to help lift the Lions to a 53-48 victory over the Lyncs in a classic battle between the Class 2A and 1A defending state champions that will not be forgotten in Lynden anytime soon.
For one thing, just about everybody in Lynden city limits was probably in attendance. Former Lynden athletic director Terry DeValois estimated that it was the fourth-largest crowd to pack Jake Maberry Gymnasium.
And nobody was sitting on their hands, as the atmosphere was electric throughout and at times nearly deafening.
"Nuts - that's all you can say about it," Meyer said.
Both student sections had plenty to cheer about, as the game certainly lived up to its billing.
It was close throughout a back-and-forth first half that saw neither team take a lead of more than four points. Lynden (12-1, 6-0 NWC) took a 23-21 lead into the locker room, after Josh Kraght, who was wearing a protective mask after breaking his nose in practice earlier this week, hit a pair of free throws with 0.4 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
"We didn't have our best game offensively," Lynden coach Brian Roper said. "We didn't shoot the ball particularly well. But we did a lot of the other hustle things that needed to be done."
Lynden used a 10-1 run midway through the fourth quarter to open up the first sizable lead of the game at 35-26 with 2:49 to play in the period, but Lynden Christian (9-4, 4-2) quickly trimmed that lead back to four by the end of the quarter.
After Dak Shagren gave Lynden a 40-33 lead with 6:21 to play in the fourth, the Lyncs again stormed back. Daulton Hommes' 3-pointer with 5:49 ignited a 10-3 run, which was capped off by Taylor Van Dalen flashing through the lane with 3:25 to play to tie the game at 43.
But LC's excitement over tying things up was short lived, as less than a minute later, Isaac Reimer, the Lyncs' 1A state player of the year, was whistled for his fifth foul in a wild battle for a loose ball under the Lyncs' basket.
Though Shagren missed both foul shots, he hit a pair on the next trip down the floor to give Lynden a 45-43 lead with 1:37 left in regulation.
Dustin Brandsma tied it back up and ultimately sent the game to overtime with his driving layup with 1:20 to play.
But without the bigger Reimer inside, Meyer was able to take control down low in overtime.
"I just got rolling," Meyer said.
He scored on a short jumper off an assist from Shagren on Lynden's first possession, then backed down a defender for another bucket with 1:43 to play to give Lynden a 50-47 lead. Meyer then grabbed the last of his nine rebounds and was fouled. He converted both free throws with 11.6 seconds left and put the game away for the Lions.
"For the 3,000 people or whatever that were here, it was no mystery that the game changed when Reimer fouled out," Roper said. "It allowed Matt to get going inside, and then he hit a couple of big free throws for us."
Before he fouled out, Lynden did a good job of making sure Reimer never got rolling. Though he recorded eight points and nine rebounds in the first half, Lynden managed to hold him to 10 points and 12 rebounds for the game, as Zach Vis and Meyer got help off the bench from Scott Hastings and Jaremy Martin in shutting him down.
"Zach started out real good against him, and then I came in, and then Scooter and Jaremy," Meyer said. "It was just everybody doing their part. All five guys on the floor had to play good defense against a team like that."
John Shine led all scorers with 20 points, while Shagren also scored in double figures for Lynden with 14 points.
"I thought John Shine had a tremendous game for us," Roper said. "He hit a number of key shots for us, and he was flying around on the court, especially early when we were struggling offensively. He was diving for balls, driving for layups, tipping rebounds out. He was everywhere."
Brandsma finished with a team-high 12 points for the Lyncs, while Van Dalen had 10.
Though they came up short in overtime, the Lyncs had to be pleased after a week that saw them beat Anacortes and take the defending 2A champs to overtime, especially considering they lost 60-24 at Lynden last year before going on to win their own title.
"You have to tip your hat to the LC players and coaches," Roper said. "We got them pretty good last year, but they didn't back down. They came in here confident and aggressive."
LC next heads to Ferndale on Tuesday, Jan. 15, while Lynden will be at Mount Baker on Thursday, Jan. 17.
"I think this is the kind of game that kids on both sides will never forget," Roper said. "To play in this kind of atmosphere, where you have both student sections so loud and into the game, it's something these kids are going to look back on and remember when they're as old as me."
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
LYNDEN 53, LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 48
Lynden Christian 14 7 10 14 3 - 48
Lynden 11 12 12 10 8 - 53
Lynden Christian: Nathan Meppelink 3, Zach Roetcisoender 0, Levi Vander Yacht 6, Truman Van Dalen 10, Daulton Hommes 5, Jamie Heystek 0, Grant Wolffis 0, Josh Hornstra 2, Dustin Brandsma 12, Willy Scholten 0, Isaac Reimer 10. Team totals: 14-39 15-20 48.
Lynden: Josh Kraght 2, Kyle Mark 0, Zach Vis 0, John Shine 20, Dak Shagren 14, Jaremy Martin 2, Scott Hastings 2, Matt Meyer 13, Marcus Fakkema 0, Bret DeGraaff 0. Team totals: 17-68 14-22 53.
3-ptg: Lynden Christian 5 (Vander Yacht 2), Lynden 4 (Shagren 3). Rebounds: Lynden Christian 32 (Reimer 12), Lynden 40 (Meyer 9). Assists: Lynden Christian 5 (Vander Yacht 3), Lynden 10 (Kraght 4). Fouls: Lynden Christian 19 (Meppelink, Reimer fouled out), Lynden 15. Turnovers: Lynden Christian 16, Lynden 7.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.