LYNDEN - In a night that senior standout Isaac Reimer surpassed a career scoring milestone on his final time playing on the court at Lynden Christian, it was his defense that was truly dominating.
Though he logged his typical double-double, with a game-high 15 points and 12 rebounds, Reimer simply owned the paint on the defensive end of the court, blocking six shots and altering countless others to boost the Lyncs to a 46-29 victory over Meridian in the semifinals of the Class 1A Northwest District Tournament on Thursday, Feb. 7.
Reimer's 3-pointer with 3:09 to play in the first quarter put him over 1,500 career points.
"Those types of things do mean a lot to me, because they're a testament to my coaches and my teammates," Reimer said. "They're the ones that keep pushing me to work hard and get better. They do mean a lot, but the most important thing to me, of course, is fulfilling the goals of our team."
Those goals, which include getting back to the 1A State Tournament for a chance to defend LC's title from last year, certainly weren't hurt by Thursday's win. The Lyncs (17-5) move on to play in the district championship game, where they will meet King's at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9, at Mountlake Terrace. The winner of that game will lock down an automatic berth to the regional round of the state tournament, while the loser will need to win one game in next week's tri-district tournament to advance.
Meridian's hopes of advancing to state weren't dashed with Thursday's loss, but the Trojans (9-13) must now beat Blaine, which avoided elimination by beating Friday Harbor earlier Thursday, in another elimination game at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8, at Meridian to advance to the tri-district tournament.
Reimer's scoring milestone was not the first he has reached this season.
In the Lyncs' regular-season finale against Sehome last week, he surpassed 1,000 career rebounds during his four-year career at LC. His 12 boards Thursday gave him 1,024, while he now has 1,510 career points.
Averaged over his 99 career games, that's 15.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.
But even if he hadn't come within shouting distance of those averages on Thursday, Reimer would have had a huge impact on the game, as the Lyncs parked him in the middle of their 2-3 zone, and he simply dominated the paint.
"The first four times or so, when they take it inside and you get a stop or a block, and then you notice that they're not coming inside anymore, and when they do they're a little more tentative, that's when you know you've got them," Reimer said. "I could tell they started not coming as aggressive, and they were looking to kick it back outside."
Who could blame the Trojans?
Just about every shot they put from anywhere near the paint was sent back or altered by Reimer in the first half.
The 6-foot, 8-inch post appeared well on his way to a triple-double at halftime with 11 points, five rebounds and six blocks, and the Trojans simply stopped testing him.
Instead they started trying to shoot from the outside, and it didn't end up too well, either.
Meridian shot 20 percent (10 for 50) from the field in the game, as the Lyncs stayed in their zone all 32 minutes.
"We haven't done that before," Reimer said. "This was the first time we played zone the whole way. It's something we've been working on really hard in practice, and it looked good, so we figured we might as well stick with it. Coach (Roger De Boer) taught the zone for 19 years when he was at Seattle Christian, so he knows what he's talking about."
And it definitely showed on the court, as Meridian was held without a point for more than eight minutes from when Edward Garcia hit a lay up with 4:07 to play in the second quarter until he drained a 3 with 3:58 to play in the third.
That suffocating defense allowed LC to open up a 24-12 halftime lead and stretch it to 34-18 by the end of the third quarter.
Meridian made a mini charge to cut the deficit to 36-24 with 5:42 to play, thanks in part to three of the Lyncs' 21 turnovers, but Lynden Christian managed to put the game away with a 10-0 run over the next 21/2 minutes.
In addition to Reimer, Zach Roetcisoender came off the bench to score nine points for LC, while Dustin Brandsma scored seven and logged a game-high four assists. Truman Van Dalen also had five steals.
Garcia accounted for nearly half of Meridian's offense with 14 points, while Chad Richter came off the bench to score seven.
"Just like last season, I think we're starting to come together at the right time," Reimer said. "We know how to play good team defense, and that's important in the playoffs."
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 46, MERIDIAN 29
Meridian 5 7 6 11 - 29
Lynden Christian 10 14 10 12 - 46
Meridian: Alijah Garcia 0, Trevin Todd 0, Jacob Plagerman 2, Kelby Todd 2, Edward Garcia 14, Patrick Carlson 0, Blake Briones 4, Chad Richter 7, Sam Chambers 0, Spencer Blackburn 0, Logan Carlson 0. Team totals: 10-50 4-6 29.
Lynden Christian: Nathan Meppelink 6, Zach Roetcisoender 9, Levi Vander Yacht 0, Truman Van Dalen 4, Daulton Hommes 2, Jamie Heystek 0, Grant Wolffis 3, Josh Hornstra 0, Dustin Brandsma 7, Willy Scholten 0, Isaac Reimer 15, Blake Mellema 0. Team totals: 18-39 5-7 46.
3-ptg: Meridian 5 (E. Garcia 3), Lynden Christian 5 (Reimer 2). Rebounds: Meridian 27 (Blackburn 5), Lynden Christian 36 (Reimer 12). Assists: Meridian 6 (E. Garcia 2), Lynden Christian 11 (Brandsma 4). Fouls: Meridian 8, Lynden Christian 11. Turnovers: Meridian 13, Lynden Christian 21.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.