MOUNT VERNON - It really couldn't have come at a much better time for the Lynden Christian boys' basketball team.
Though the Lyncs, at the time, held a two-point lead over Hoquiam in their regional round game of the Class 1A State Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 23, at Mount Vernon High School, they seemed a little off. They scored baskets on their first two possessions, but they had lost that momentum and now looked almost as lethargic as the white-clad student section sitting on its hands anxiously waiting for Lynden Christian to surpass the nine-point barrier to honor coach Roger De Boer's Cloud 9 Sports.
But with one perfect pass from Truman Van Dalen and one thunderous dunk from Isaac Reimer with 1:25 to play in the first quarter, the Lyncs not only awoke the crowd, but also themselves, as they went on to cruise to a 55-27 victory.
Van Dalen finished with a game-high six assists, while "Mr. Postseason" Dustin Brandsma once again came up big in a playoff game with 21 points, as LC (22-5) earned a return trip to the 1A state quarterfinals next week in Yakima and moved a step closer to defending its state title.
They will await the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association's draw on Sunday, Feb. 24, to find out who they will be playing and when on Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
"We're happy to be back," Van Dalen said with a big smile.
Van Dalen said the Lyncs have run the ally-oop play in practice numerous times, but "we've never gotten it to work in a game."
De Boer said he thought it was the perfect time to call the play coming out of a dead ball, because his coaching staff had noticed that the Grizzlies were over playing the high-post flash.
"The kids were so excited when we called it," De Boer said. "We had set it up perfectly, and they knew it. ... It was beautiful."
Van Dalen brought the ball up the court, just right of the top of the key, and when he saw Reimer curl around behind the Hoquiam defense, he lobbed the pass, Reimer caught it while in the air and slammed it.
The basket gave the Lyncs a 9-5 lead and sent the LC faithful into orbit - a place they would stay through most of the next 25 1/2 minutes of game time, as they seemed to feed off the Lyncs' renewed energy and vice versa.
"Perfect time," Van Dalen said. "That one play really seemed to get us going."
That play ignited a 6-0 run to close out the first quarter and continued into the second quarter, when the Lyncs scored the first five points to open up an 18-5 advantage.
And for the second day in a row, a Lynden Christian basketball team continued to pull away from a Hoquiam team and cruise to Yakima.
"I can't tell you how much this means to us," De Boer said. "We're really fortunate as a community and as coaches. ... To be able to work with these guys every day is a real honor. They're not just outstanding players, they're outstanding individuals."
But those individuals played together as a tremendous team on Saturday.
Just look at what Van Dalen was able to do. Though he scored only two points, he facilitated 12 more with his outstanding court vision and crisp passes on Saturday.
"Guys were just doing a great job of cutting to the spots they were supposed to be, and our coaches always seemed to call the right plays," Van Dalen said.
The senior guard also had two of Lynden Christian's 13 steals in the game, as Nathan Meppelink led the way with three.
Though the Lyncs' defensive pressure was consistent throughout, it really seemed to show in the second half, as no Hoquiam players reached double figures.
"I think we were fresher than they were," De Boer said. "We used 10 guys in the first half, and I think you saw them start to get a little tired, while our guys were flying around. We pressed to get them to play up-tempo, and I think that wore them down."
The results of that press showed midway through the third quarter, when the Lyncs used steals on four straight Grizzly possessions by Zach Roetcisocender, Meppelink, Van Dalen and Brandsma to fuel an 11-0 run and take a 45-18 lead.
It wasn't just on defense where LC was flying around, though. The Lyncs won the rebounding battle 49-33, as Reimer turned in yet another double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Meppelink also had an outstanding game on the boards with nine, and he added three assists.
"For a guard to have nine rebounds in a game, that's pretty special," De Boer said. "I thought Truman and Nathan both had outstanding games for us. They may not have scored a ton of points, but they played big roles for us. We had so many different guys make big contributions for us tonight, and that was great to see."
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 55, HOQUIAM 27
Hoquiam 5 9 6 9 - 27
Lynden Christian 13 15 19 8 - 55
Hoquiam: Jake Oliver 0, David Sandstrom 4, Ronnie Espedal 9, Rashad Lorton 0, Evan Newton 0, Tyler White 0, Blake Kelly 4, Cole Smith 6, Jaycob Guined 0, Alex Boulden 4. Team totals: 12-51 0-2 27.
Lynden Christian: Blake Mellema 0, Nathan Meppelink 4, Zach Roetcisocender 6, Levi Vander Yacht 0, Truman Van Dalen 2, Daulton Hommes 4, Jamie Heystek 3, Grant Wolffis 0, Josh Hornstra 0, Dustin Brandsma 21, Willy Scholten 3, Isaac Reimer 12. Team totals: 22-65 8-15 55.
3-ptg: Hoquiam 3-16 (Espedal 3), Lynden Christian 2-13 (Meppelink, Heystek). Rebounds: Hoquiam 33 (Smith 9), Lynden Christian 49 (Reimer 13). Assists: Hoquiam 5 (Newton 2), Lynden Christian 10 (Van Dalen 6). Fouls: Hoquiam 18 (Espedal fouled out), Lynden Christian 8. Turnovers: Hoquiam 22, Lynden Christian 12.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.