LYNDEN - Truman VanDalen finally got to throw the gloriously long, last-second pass of his fantasies for Lynden Christian.
From out of bounds at half-court, VanDalen found fellow senior Dustin Brandsma underneath for a game-winning layup as the post-season bound Lyncs claimed a wild 67-66 victory over Squalicum on Monday, Jan. 28.
"You know, I've always wanted to play quarterback but I never got the chance," said VanDalen, who had to settle for being a skilled wide receiver in football. "When I saw Dustin open ... ."
The game turned out to be perfect preparation for the defending Class 1A state champion Lyncs (15-4 overall, 9-2 NWC), who will be the No. 1 seed in the Northwest Conference Tournament.
Squalicum (12-8, 7-4), however, dropped into fifth place in the Class 2A ranks. The Storm will have to beat Anacortes (13-4, 7-2) Feb. 5 in Squalicum's only remaining NWC game and hope for help from other teams in order to finish among the league's four Class 2A district qualifiers.
"I'm just so super proud of how our kids got the chance to play this way in their final regular-season home game," said Lyncs coach Roger DeBoer, whose seniors are the first class to play their entire careers for him. "We tip our hats to Squalicum for the way they played. I think there are six, maybe (all) seven teams, from the NWC that deserve to play at district."
LC career scoring leader Isaac Reimer, who scored all 21 of his team-high points in the second half, also gave credit to the Storm.
"Those guys were really tough, the way Alex Yuska was scoring and rebounding and Blake Youtsey was hitting those threes," said Reimer, who sat out the second quarter after being whistled for two fouls in the opening period.
"I was just so tense," said the 6-foot-8 senior, who made 5 of 12 3-point attempts, including four in the third quarter to help the Lyncs rally from deficits as much as 13 points at 36-23. "That was a good decision by coach DeBoer to sit me out in the second period."
Brandsma just grinned at his first such dramatic shot.
"I've never had a chance for a shot like that," said Brandsma, who finished with 14 points. "All I could think was, 'Shoot fast.'"
That he did, leaving the Storm only six-tenths of a second from underneath their own basket - not enough time for a good shot.
Storm senior post Yuska, in perhaps his most productive overall game, finished with game highs of 13 rebounds and 26 points on 11 for 17 shooting. Youtsey, hitting 5 of 7 3-pointers and 6 for 10 shots overall, scored 18 points.
DeBoer could not have asked for better balance. In addition to Reimer's 21 second-half points, VanDalen shot 6 for 10 and finished with 16 points, while Brandsma went 5 for 11 to score 14 and Nate Meppelink shot 3 for 4 and wound up with 11 points.
Squalicum played for the last shot and Yuska scored on a muscle layup with 4.1 seconds remaining off a fine pass from Tre Clark, who had a game-high six assists and nine points.
LC called timeout and Reimer made an alert in-bounds pass to VanDalen, who called timeout with 2.2 seconds left so he could in-bound the ball from half court. The result was his team-high fifth assist and the most dramatic play he had never been part of.
"The play was to Isaac but then Truman saw me open underneath," said Brandsma.
LC trailed 62-54 with 2:15 remaining after Clark found Yuska underneath. But Brandsma made two free throws, Meppelink scored off a steal by Levi Vander Yacht, Meppelink scored following a steal by Van Dalen, and Reimer made a 3 from the corner with 1:08 left, capping a 9-0 run and putting LC up 63-62.
But the Storm wasn't through. Blake Harmon, who had seven of his eight points in the second half, scored on a runner, but Reimer gave the Lyncs back the lead at 65-64 with two free throws with 23.8 ticks left.
Then it seemed Yuska would enjoy the winning basket of his dreams - until VanDalen's pass to Brandsma. It capped a night of good pressure ball for LC, which had only seven turnovers.
The game started 15 minutes late for a good reason -- LC honored its senior players and cheerleaders on senior night, and also recognized Storm seniors Yuska, Clark and Harmon. LC's former career scoring leader, Grant Dykstra, was on hand to provide Reimer with special recognition. Reimer now has 1,494 points - and counting.
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 67, SQUALICUM 66
Squalicum 18 13 17 18 - 66
LC 10 12 22 23 - 67
Squalicum: Alex Yuska 26, Blake Youtsey 18, Blake Harmon 8, Tre Clark 9, Ben Garcia 3, Danny Weber 2, Luke Weber 0, Jonathan Whetnall 0. Team totals 25-55 8-16 66.
Lynden Christian: Isaac Reimer 21, Truman VanDalen 16, Dustin Brandsma 14, Nate Meppelink 11, Daulton Hommes 2, Jamie Heystek 1, Josh Hornstra 2, Willy Scholten 0, Zach Roetcisoender 0, Levi Vander Yacht 0. Team totals 21-46 20-26 67.
3-pointers: Squalicum 8 (Youtsey 5); LC 5 (Reimer 5). Rebounds: Squalicum 35 (Yuska 13); LC 30 (Reimer 8). Assists: Squalicum 17 (Clark 6); LC 13 (VanDalen 5). Fouls: Squalicum 18, LC 15. Turnovers: Squalicum 11, LC 7.