MOUNTLAKE TERRACE - Beauty is the eye of the beholder, and what the Lynden Christian girls' basketball team is left holding is a district championship and an automatic berth to the regional round of the state playoffs.
The game itself might have had about as much rhythm and flow to it as a bout with the hiccups, but that didn't matter to Lyncs sophomore guard Makayla Lancaster.
"I thought it was awesome," she said with a smile.
Lancaster and Lynden Christian's defense dominated the championship game of the Class 1A Northwest District Tournament, as they held King's to 10.6 percent shooting and forced 28 Knights turnovers in a 45-18 victory at Mountlake Terrace High School.
King's hit only five field goals the entire game, including one in the second half, and LC intercepted errant pass after errant pass and picked the pocket of Knights ball handlers to the tune of 16 steals.
"Defensively, we did exactly what we wanted to do," Lyncs coach Curt De Haan said. "Coming in, we wanted to focus on (Karly) Hibbard, who is their top scorer. We did that, holding her to an NBA-length 3. And I thought we did a good job of pressuring everyone else and forcing them to make some mistakes."
LC (20-3) forced so many mistakes that it was able to cruise to the district championship in a game that was never really close.
With the title, the Lyncs lock up their ninth straight trip to the Sweet 16 in the state playoffs. But before they get to the regional round, LC must play for seeding in the 1A tri-district tournament along with the top seeds from District 2 and 3. Lynden Christian will play University Prep in an 8 p.m. game on Friday, Feb. 15, at Mountlake Terrace to avoid being the tri-district's No. 3 seed. The winner of that game moves on to play Cascade Christian a day later at Lynnwood for the tri-district title.
Though the result wasn't always pretty, Lynden Christian definitely showed it had a championship-caliber defense on Saturday, as King's was never able to get in the flow of the game.
"I think we did a good job or reading their passes and reacting so that we could get a hand on them," said Lancaster, who led the Lyncs with four steals. "We just anticipated what they were going to do."
And even when LC didn't come up with a steal, King's didn't get many uncontested shots. Kara Bajema picked up half of LC's four blocked shots, and numerous others were altered with strong defensive play inside and out on the perimeter.
The net effect, was obvious, as Kings was held to 4 for 22 shooting in the first half.
And things only got worse from there, as they hit only one field goal in the second half - a put back by Kendall Adams on their first possession of the half - in 25 shot attempts.
Lynden Christian wasn't as dominating offensively, as the Lyncs hit 17 of 55 attempts (30.9 percent) and turned the ball over 25 times, but the they were "good enough on offense," De Haan said.
By the end of the half they held a 26-11 lead, and just kept stretching it from there.
"I thought we were good on the boards, especially on the offensive end," said De Haan of his team winning the rebounding battle 48-37. "We had 16 offensive rebounds, and I thought Bajema and (Courtney) Hollander were both really good there."
Hollander and Bajema lead the team with three offensive rebounds apiece, while Hollander finished with a team-high eight boards total and Bajema was right behind with six. That duo also led the team in scoring with 10 points apiece.
Adams was the only Knight to score more than one field goal, as she finished with a team-high six points.
"It feels so good to know that we already have our spot locked up," Lancaster said. "It puts us one step closer to our goal of winning a state title."
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 45, KING'S 18
King's 7 4 3 4 - 18
Lynden Christian 11 15 12 7 - 45
King's: Madison Shinn 0, Kendall Adams 6, Mia Hayek 0, Marilyn Jones 0, Julia Berenson 0, Anna Parker 2, Ellie Rasmussen 2, Daylee Hanson 3, Ashley Adams 2, Daphne Kieling 0, Karly Hibbard 3. Team totals: 5-47 7-18 18.
Lynden Christian: Makayla Lancaster 4, Kara Bajema 10, Courtney Hollander 10, Sally Vlas 2, Kassidy Aldrich 0, Karley De Jager 5, Sara Dougan 0, Emma Stump 1, Carli Tjoelker 4, Kayla Tiemersma 5, Morgan Van Kooten 4. Team totals: 17-55 8-17 45.
3-ptg: King's 0, Lynden Christian 1 (Bajema). Rebounds: King's 37 (A. Adams 10), Lynden Christian 48 (Hollander 8). Assists: King's 3 (Parker, Hanson, Hibbard), Lynden Christian 6 (Lancaster 3). Fouls: King's 14, Lynden Christian 20 (Tiemersma fouled out). Turnovers: King's 28, Lynden Christian 25.