BELLINGHAM - On Inauguration Day, it was fitting how Sehome's student body president came up with several examples of leadership in her team's biggest girls' basketball victory of the season.
What thrilled 5-foot-5 senior point guard Meagan McIntyre the most, however, was how well sophomores Maddy Bryan and Megan Bayless continued to develop in Sehome's 44-41 Northwest Conference victory over Lynden on Monday, Jan. 21.
Bryan scored 15 points, with 11 in the second half, including 6 for 6 free throw shooting in the fourth quarter, as the Mariners (10-6 overall, 6-2) snapped a tie for second place with the Lions (10-6, 5-3) among the conference's seven Class 2A teams.
Bayless hit three timely 3-pointers - one each in the second, third and fourth quarters - to help set up a wild finish. One of her most promising shooting showings ultimately helped fend off three consecutive 3-pointers in the final 2:08 by Lynden junior Kelsey Bouwman, who finished with a game-high 17 points go to with 10 by fellow junior Stephanie Somers.
Meanwhile, Sehome standout Rachel Albert enjoyed a huge game - 13 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and 12 points, including four free throws in the last 17 seconds for Sehome's final points.
"This was definitely our biggest win," said McIntyre. "We've developed a real rivalry with Lynden (in her four years on the varsity). This game will boost the confidence of our underclassmen."
McIntyre displayed her courage when she took a painful tumble to the floor, right where it hurt the most.
"I just had kidney stones two days ago, and I got hit right in the kidney," said McIntyre, who sat out only briefly in the second half before re-entering. "That really hurt."
What hurt Lynden, though, was when McIntyre - one of the smallest players in the game - forced a crucial turnover. She lunged to make a creative block in heavy traffic underneath after Bryan's final two free throws gave Sehome a 40-38 lead with 33 seconds left.
The Mariners took advantage of their ensuing possession after McIntyre's huge defensive play, scoring on Albert's two free throws with 17 seconds left.
Bouwman's third 3-pointer - she had taller Lynden's only outside hoops - with nine seconds remaining kept the Lions in the game. But Albert made two more free throws with 5.3 seconds left and Hallie Messenger then disrupted Lynden's ensuing drive with a key foul with 3.2 ticks remaining.
The Mariners had one foul to give - that was only their sixth of the second half - and thus were able to keep the Lions from getting off a good 3-point effort at the buzzer.
"Meagan's really inspirational," Bryan said of McIntyre, who made a 3-pointer with 3:06 remaining to go with three fourth-quarter steals. "She really got the team going. I voted for her (for student body president)."
McIntyre returned the favor with praise for Bryan, who more than doubled her 7.7 point scoring average.
McIntyre, a three-sport athlete, gained a lot of votes for president after she made what she called a "quirky video" in which she spoofed Texas governor Rick Perry's memory lapse during the campaign for the Republican presidential candidacy.
McIntyre, though, didn't forget anything during the game, turning in a nearly error-free floor effort. She and Albert also led the response to Sehome coach Kim Kirk's challenge after the Lions took a 10-2 lead on a pair of muscle shots by Maddi Hommes and Ashlyn Morgan. The Mariners answered with a 23-10 run.
"Meagan and Rachel Albert just came up huge," said Kirk, noting how she assigned Albert to guard Lynden scoring leader Somers in Sehome's trapping zone defense. "Rachel did a great job and I loved her leadership."
Somers finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, but Albert helped limit her to four shots and one basket in the second half.
Both teams seem good bets to be among the four NWC qualifiers for the Class 2A Northwest District Tournament. Each has four games left, beginning with Sehome's visit to Nooksack Valley on Thursday, Jan. 24, and Lynden's visit to Blaine on Friday, Jan. 25.
SEHOME 44, LYNDEN 41
Lynden 12 6 9 14 - 41
Sehome 6 13 6 19 - 44
Lynden: Kelsey Bouwman 17, Stephanie Somers 10, Taylor VanDalen 0, Tanna Benson 2, Maddi Hommes 7, Ashlyn Morgan 5, Kaitlyn Mark 0, Mandy Warner 0. Team totals 17-47 4-10 41.
Sehome: Rachel Albert 12, Maddy Bryan 15, Megan Bayless 9, Meagan McIntyre 6, Hallie Messenger 0, Danielle Strasser 0, Jenny McIntyre 2, Alia Jones 0. Team totals 12-42 16-23 44.
3-pointers: Lynden 3 (Bouwman 3); Sehome 4 (Bayless 3). Rebounds: Lynden 31 (Somers 10); Sehome 27 (Albert 13). Assists: Lynden 9 (Somers 4), Sehome 8 (Albert 5). Fouls: Lynden 19, Sehome 9.