LYNDEN - Junior guard Sally Vlas says she's "not the type to keep track" of her statistics for Lynden Christian's girls' basketball team.
She was, however, pretty good at describing perhaps the biggest shot of her career.
Others, meanwhile, had no trouble keeping up with her numbers in the fourth quarter of LC's 38-37 Northwest Conference victory over Nooksack Valley on Saturday, Jan. 26.
Vlas came into the fourth quarter with a huge amount of hustle and heart but no points. Then she scored all seven of the Lyncs' points in the final period as they nailed down the tiebreaker for the NWC's No. 1 spot in the Class 1A Northwest District Tournament.
One of LC's most intense team defensive efforts fended off a gritty performance for Nooksack by 6-foot senior post Melissa Stadt, who had game highs of 15 rebounds and 20 points on 9 for 24 shooting, including 3 for 4 in the fourth quarter.
With two league games remaining for both Lynden Christian (15-3 overall, 8-2 NWC) and Nooksack (12-6, 6-4), along with fellow contender Blaine (7-3 NWC), nothing is yet settled. But the Lyncs have now beaten both the Pioneers and Borderites and thus hold the tiebreaker.
With LC leading 31-25 heading into the fourth quarter of a truly intense but sportsmanlike game, Stadt scored twice on rebounds, converting the first bucket into a three-point play, to pull the Pioneers within 31-30.
At that point, Vlas fearlessly took a 3-point shot from the top of the key with 21/2 minutes remaining - LC's first points of the final period after nine shots refused to fall, though several came tantalizingly close.
Nooksack answered with a hook shot by Stadt, but Vlas provided a 38-34 lead with two free throws with 39 seconds left and two more with 16 ticks remaining.
"That really was an exciting moment," Vlas said of her 3-pointer. "When that shot went in, it felt like my heart dropped into my stomach."
And how many 3s had she made this season?
"I have no idea," Vlas said. "I don't normally shoot at lot. I'm not the type to keep track."
Nooksack's Lindy Swanson - who had all nine of her points in the second half - made two free throws with 71/2 seconds left, cutting the Lyncs' lead to 38-34.
When Nooksack got the ball back, there was time only for an uncontested 3-pointer by reserve guard Kaycee DeBruin, whose shot at the buzzer went in. LC coach Curt DeHaan made sure all of his players were not going to be anywhere near committing a foul.
"Kayla Tiemersma (LC's only senior) shot real well (4 for 10 plus 2 for 2 from the line for a team-high 10 points)," said DeHaan. "And our defense did a real good job and our bench stepped up."
Indeed, the three reserves in LC's rotation - freshman Kara Bajema and sophomores Kassidy Aldrich and Sara Dougan - combined to outscore Nooksack's bench 9-3.
Courtney Hollander led the Lyncs with 12 rebounds as they fell only two short of Nooksack's team total, 32-30. Stadt was so tough for the Pioneers that she alone had half as many rebounds as the Lyncs' total.
Sophomore guard Makayla Lancaster had a game-high four assists for the Lyncs and only two turnovers in a pressure-packed 24:48 stint. Hollander had three assists and Karley De Jager scored six points, including two buckets in the third quarter. Tiemersma played 26:21 and had only one turnover.
Dougan provided the most spectacular defensive play of the night when the 6-3 sophomore blocked a shot by Stadt at the first half buzzer. That kept the Lyncs up 19-13 and ultimately proved vital.
In all, the remarkably intense struggle of man-to-man defenses resulted in 37 turnovers, including 21 by Nooksack.
The Lyncs will finish the regular season on Jan. 29 at Squalicum and Feb. 1 at home against Sehome. The Pioneers will wind up on Jan. 28 at Bellingham and Feb. 1 at Sedro-Woolley.
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 38, NOOKSACK VALLEY 37
Nooksack Valley: Melissa Stadt 20, Lindy Swanson 9, Lindsay Hayes 3, Mariah Perry 2, Morgan Perry 0, Kaycee DeBruin 3, Taryn Tenkley 0, Lauren Dykstra 0, Julie Campos 0, Cheyenna Maxwell 0. Team totals: 15-47 5-7 37.
Lynden Christian: Kayla Tiemersma 10, Karley De Jager 6, Sally Vlas 7, Courtney Holland 5, Makayla Lancaster 1, Kassidy Aldrich 3, Kara Bajema 4, Sara Dougan 2. Team totals: 13-43 9-16 38.
3-pointers: Nooksack 2 (Swanson, DeBruin); LC 3 (Hollander, Vlas, Aldrich). Rebounds: Nooksack 32 (Stadt 15); LC 30 (Hollander 12). Assists: Nooksack 4 (Campos 2); LC 11 (Lancaster 4). Fouls: Nooksack 16 (Mariah Perry fouled out); LC 13. Turnovers: Nooksack 21, LC 16.