LYNDEN - Two years in a row the Lynden boys' basketball team has used Sumner as a springboard to the Class 2A State Tournament round of eight in Yakima.
Lynden celebrated last year's regional win 140 miles away at Mount Tahoma High School. This year, the party was in Lynden's Jake Maberry Gymnasium.
The defending 2A state champs returned home for the regional round of the state tournament and played shutdown second-half defense to earn a 58-39 win against Sumner on Saturday, Feb. 23.
The win moves Lynden a step closer to defending its 2011-12 state title, but the Lions didn't view Saturday's win as a minor obstacle in their road to claiming the state's top prize. No doubt about it, Lynden was plenty excited to be heading back to the Yakima SunDome.
"We are thrilled," Lynden coach Brian Roper said. "We never take anything for granted. When you get to the final 16, you're playing good teams."
Sumner didn't make it easy on the Lions, who have won 17 straight since losing to Tahoma on Dec. 22.
Trailing 23-12 with 4:56 to go until halftime, the Spartans went on a 9-0 run powered by seven points from guard Keenan Jackson, who finished with a team-high 13 points.
Lynden and Sumner traded buckets the rest of the way, and the Lions took a 29-23 lead into halftime.
"The mood was really positive," Sumner coach Brett McDaniel said. "As coaches, we knew Lynden was going to come out and really get after us. We knew it was going to be a war, but give Lynden credit. They came out and smacked us."
Lynden's Dak Shagren matched teammate John Shine with a team-high 14 points, but his biggest contribution came on the defensive end.
The Lions held Sumner to five field-goal attempts in the third quarter, outscoring the Spartans 15-5. Shagren played man defense on Jackson most of the quarter. He didn't allow a single shot from the Spartans' leading scorer.
"Dak scored for us, but we put him on their best player for a while," Roper said. "That was the stretch that helped us open it up, when he moved onto Jackson."
Shagren used his 6-foot-3 frame and long wingspan to contain Jackson, whom Roper said Sumner's offense goes through. Guard Josh Kraght also played a role in limiting the Sumner guard.
"I thought it was our defense that really helped us pull through," Shine said. "It was a six-point game at halftime, and we came out in the second half and played solid defense. That's what kind of built our lead."
Five different Lynden scorers helped the Lions enjoy a 13-2 second half-opening run. A three-point play by Sumner's Luc Powers-Hubbard cut Lynden's lead to 42-28 with 2:11 left in the third, but Shagren hit a mid-range jumper as the final second of the quarter ticked away, giving Lynden a 44-28 advantage.
After buckets by Shine and Shagren pushed the Lions' lead to 19 with 5:32 to go, Sumner crept back to within 14 points, but the Spartans only scored two points the rest of the way.
Lynden forced 13 Sumner turnovers. The Lions turned the ball over six times. Matt Meyer and Zach Vis each added eight points.
"Offense comes and goes, but defense is constant," Roper said. "Our guys understand that, and I thought that was true tonight."
Sumner's Tristan Pearson scored seven points, Powers-Hubbard added five and Jace Johnson scored four.
"They are absolutely huge," said McDaniel of Lynden, "so for our little guys to compete as well as they did for as long as they did, I was really really pleased. Other than losing the game, we have nothing to be ashamed of. I'm really proud of the guys."
Lynden's first-round opponent in Yakima will be determined in a draw that takes place Sunday, Feb. 24.
LYNDEN 58, SUMNER 39
Sumner 12 11 5 11 - 39
Lynden 19 10 15 14 - 58
Sumner: Mychal Hooser 2, Keenan Jackson 13, Thomas Murphy 2, Cole Hamilton 0, Riley Bruil 2, Tyson Birrer 0, Tristan Pearson 7, Luc Powers-Hubbard 5, Jace Johnson 4, Austin Ford 2, Alec Esterbrook 0, Austin Striplin 0. Team totals: 17-36 2-3 39.
Lynden: Josh Kraght 2, Kyle Mark 0, Zach Vis 8, John Shine 14, Dak Shagren 14, Jaremy Martin 2, Scott Hastings 5, Jalani Phelps 0, Sterling Somers 3, Matt Meyer 8, Marcus Fakkema 2, Bret DeGraaff 0. Team totals: 23-48 9-10 58.
3-ptg: Sumner 1 (Jackson 1), Lynden 2 (Shine/Shagren 1). Rebounds: Sumner 19 (Jackson 4), Lynden 23 (Shine/Meyer 4). Assists: Sumner 3 (three with 1), Lynden 9 (Kraght 4). Fouls: Sumner 13, Lynden 12. Turnovers: Sumner 13, Lynden 6.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.