LYNNWOOD - Lynden Christian junior guard Sally Vlas admits she doesn't look at the scoreboard during the first quarter of big games.
"If you look and you see you're way down, you might start forcing shots, and if you see you're way up, maybe you let up a little," Vlas said. "So I just don't pay attention to the score early. I usually wait until after the first quarter. I just play the game."
But when Vlas took a look at the scoreboard at Lynnwood High School after the first quarter of her team's Class 1A tri-district tournament championship basketball game against Cascade Christian on Saturday, Feb. 16, even she was amazed to see her Lyncs up by 10.
"I was like 'Wow, we're shooting the ball well," Vlas said. "When I saw that, it fired me up."
It sure did, and she figured she might as well keep it going.
Vlas scored 12 of her-game high 17 points in the second quarter to help Lynden Christian open up an insurmountable lead and roll to a 51-36 victory over the Cougars to claim the tri-district title. Courtney Hollander also had two big hands in that win, as she grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds to help the Lyncs control the boards 43-27.
"This is really big for us, because we've wanted this for a long time," Hollander said. "We knew getting to Yakima for the state tournament was going to be tougher this year, and we've taken a big step in that direction."
With the tri-district's No. 1 seed to the regional round of the Class 1A State Tournament, the Lyncs (21-3) will get to face the Southwest District's No. 4 seed in an 8 p.m. game on Friday, Feb. 22, at Mount Vernon High School.
If LC plays like it did in the first quarter Saturday during the regional round, it can already starting making hotel reservations for Yakima.
The Lyncs grabbed the early lead thanks to some outstanding 3-point shooting in the first quarter.
Vlas hit the first trey 52 seconds in off a feed from Makayla Lancaster.
After Cascade Christian came back to take a 6-5 lead on a pair of 3-pointers of its own, Kassidy Aldrich answered with another 3 to make it 8-6 with 4:38 to play in the first.
Then post Kayla Tiemersma stepped out and made one on the next possession, followed by a second from Aldrich on the Lyncs' next trip down the court, and it was suddenly 14-8.
Two possessions later, Tiemersma hit yet another 3, as LC hit 5 of its 6 shots from beyond the arc in the quarter.
"I think that really sparked us," Vlas said. "When we came out shooting that hot, it got everybody pumped."
And nobody more than Vlas, who simply went on a tear in the second quarter, hitting lay-ups, pull-up jumpers and even a 3-pointer in the second quarter to help the Lyncs go to the halftime locker room up 36-13.
While Vlas took care of the scoring, Hollander did her best to make sure Vlas had a ball to shoot, as she seemed to get to just about every errant shot on both ends of the court, though she did get some help from Sara Dougan, who came off the bench for eight rebounds, and Vlas, who grabbed five.
"We worked hard on our defense and rebounding all week," Hollander said. "The one thing we wanted to do was use our defense to get our offense started. I figured that if I could get to as many boards as possible on the defensive end, I could get the ball in the hands of our shooters quicker."
Hollander also ended up leading the Lyncs with four assists, while Vlas had game-high three steals.
Though Vlas was the only LC player to score in double figures, Tiemersma finished with nine, and Aldrich and Karley De Jager each added eight.
Olivia Tuttle led the Cougars with 10 points, while Chloe Read had nine.
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 51, CASCADE CHRISTIAN 36
Lynden Christian 18 18 9 6 - 51
Cascade Christian 8 5 9 14 - 36
Lynden Christian: Makayla Lancaster 0, Haley Hollander 0, Kara Bajema 0, Courtney Hollander 3, Sally Vlas 17, Kassidy Aldrich 8, Karley De Jager 8, Sara Dougan 4, Emma Stump 0, Carli Tjoelker 0, Kayla Tiemersma 9, Morgan Van Kooten 2. Team totals: 17-54 11-18 51.
Cascade Christian: Holly Suggs 0, Julia Inderbitzin 0, Kaycee Creech 8, Audria Scott 0, Katie Rozumny 6, Oliva Tuttle 10, Brooke Tunstall 0, Chloe Read 9, Savannah Hunter 3. Team totals: 12-48 6-10 36.
3-ptg: Lynden Christian 6 (Vlas 2, Aldrich 2, Tiemersma 2), Cascade Christian 4 (Rozumny 2, Tuttle 2). Rebounds Lynden Christian 43 (C. Hollander 16), Cascade Christian 27 (Hunter 6). Assists: Lynden Christian 12 (C. Hollander 4), Cascade Christian 5 (Creech 2, Rozumny 2). Fouls: Lynden Christian 10, Cascade Christian 14. Turnovers: Lynden Christian 12, Cascade Christian 10.