YAKIMA - Sometimes you do get a second chance to make a first impression.
The Lynden boys' basketball team didn't have a particularly good game shooting the ball on Thursday, Feb. 28, as it missed numerous shots from in close and shot only 45.1 percent from the field in quarterfinals of the Class 2A State Tournament.
The Lions didn't even shoot very well from the foul line either, hitting only 12 of 21 attempts.
But what Lynden did an outstanding job of - where it seemingly couldn't be stopped - was cleaning up on the offensive glass. The Lions fought for 16 offensive rebounds and turned them into 24-second chance points, as they went on to a 60-42 victory over Yakima West Valley at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
"We knew coming in that the rims here are pretty stiff, and that would create some opportunities for some long rebounds," said senior John Shine, who not only led the Lions with 18 points, but also seven offensive rebounds and nine total boards. "We just worked as hard as we could to get to the ball. It's something we've been working hard on all season long. We work on it every day in practice with a number of different drills."
Because of those drills, Lynden (24-1) moves on to the state semifinals for the second straight year. It will face Northwest Conference rival Anacortes, which upset Clover Park 59-51, ensuring that the league will be represented in the 2A boys' title game for the eighth straight year.
The Lions won both regular-season meetings with the Seahawks, beating them 61-51 on Dec. 12 at Lynden and 78-58 in a Jan. 4 NWC game at Anacortes.
But Friday's showdown obviously will mean quite a bit more after both teams made it through their first challenges at the SunDome.
"We've got the first-game jitters out of the way now," said Lynden senior Dak Shagren who scored 13 points. "You always know coming in here the first day that your shooting is going to be a little off and you're going to be a little nervous. Our rebounding really kept us in the game and let us get through those jitters."
Though the big stage is nothing new for Lynden, which is hoping to add a repeat basketball championship to the back-to-back football titles it has already won, nerves are as good a reason as any to describe the Lions' struggles shooting, particularly inside, where they almost seemed to miss more layups than they made.
Lynden missed its first three shots all from in the paint, before losing its fourth possession to turnover.
But Shine got things started on the fifth, when he grabbed another miss and put it back in to tie the game 2-2 with 5:30 to play.
Zach Vis then gave the Lions a lead they would not relinquish when he scored on a layup off an assist from Josh Kraght and was fouled in the process. Though he missed out on the 3-point play, Vis hustled to get the rebound, and that eventually led to a 3-pointer from Shagren for a five-point trip down the floor and a 7-2 Lynden lead with 4:46 left in the first quarter.
Next trip, it was Jaremy Martin grabbing the offensive board, leading to a Scott Hastings layup.
Next possession, it Shine grabbing a miss and putting it back in for an 11-2 Lynden lead.
"We have spent a lot of time working on rebounding this year, and the credit for that has to go to (Mike) McKee, who also doubles as our C team coach," Lynden coach Brian Roper said. "Our kids are very good at anticipating where the ball is going to go, and they're very athletic. All of them do a good job at it. I mean John Shine, our two guard, leads us in rebounding. We did a good job of sending four or five guys to the glass every time today."
Lynden finally got some points without an offensive rebound involved, when Shagren scored on a layup to put Lynden up 13-2 with 2:59 to play in the first quarter.
The Rams never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.
By the time the first half ended, Lynden had already grabbed nine offensive rebounds, including three each by Shine and Martin, and had converted all nine of them into two points - 18 second-chance points total. West Valley, by comparison, had only one offensive rebound, which they failed to convert on the scoreboard.
That was more than enough to give the Lions a 31-19 lead by halftime.
"Our goal coming in today was to get to the rim and really attack the boards," Shine said. "They were playing a match-up zone, which is tough to rebound out of, so that was just another thing we had going for us. I thought it really made a difference for us."
Particularly considering the Lions were facing a crowd that was definitely partial toward the Rams, with West Valley located just across town.
"That was a neat environment," Roper said. "It was nice to see on opening day. The excitement around that game, it felt more like a semifinal. ... But they had a lot of be proud of. West Valley has a great team, and they played a good game today."
But the Rams certainly weren't at their best.
Just as important as Lynden's work on the offensive glass was its ability to shut down West Valley leading scorer Jalen Peake.
The athletic sharp shooter entered Thursday averaging a team-high 16 points per game, but he was unable to get going offensively against Lynden. He hit 2 of 7 shots, both from 3-point range, and one of them didn't come until late in the fourth quarter when the game was already decided.
"You could tell he had some ability every time he got the ball," Roper said.
But he was never able to showcase that ability, as the Lions blanketed him with their top defender.
Shagren did a perfect job of shadowing Peake everywhere he went, denying him the ball, and when Shagren wasn't on the court, Vis took over the duties and was equally adept at shutting Peake down.
And on those few occasions that Peake did get the ball, he certainly didn't get an unobstructed view of the rim.
"We wanted to keep a hand in his face and make sure he didn't good looks," Shagren said. "We wanted to keep him off balance and make him take tough shots."
Austin Strock led West Valley with 13 points, but even that was two below his season average, as the Rams hit only 16 of 46 shots (34.8 percent) from the field.
Martin joined Shine and Shagren in double figures for Lynden with 12, while Kraght and Vis each recorded three assists.
"It never gets old," Roper said of the win at the state tournament. "Some people just expect us to come in here and win and be ho-hum about it, but none of these games are easy. West Valley gave us a battle today, and I expect another one tomorrow."
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
LYNDEN 60, YAKIMA WEST VALLEY 42
Yakima West Valley 11 8 11 12 - 42
Lynden 19 12 10 19 - 60
FG FT Reb
WEST VALLEY Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Jace Van De Brake 23 3-5 1-2 0-1 1 4 9
Jalen Peake 30 2-7 0-0 1-3 1 3 6
Tyler Cluff 26 2-13 2-2 1-1 3 1 6
Dylan Peters 9 0-3 0-0 1-3 0 0 0
Christian Cavanaugh 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Austin Strock 27 5-11 2-2 2-3 0 2 13
Gage Landis 7 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 2
Kyle Conrad 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Griffin Thurlby 6 0-0 0-0 1-1 1 0 0
Lorenzo Juarez 15 2-3 0-0 0-1 0 2 4
James Swanson 15 1-3 0-0 0-0 0 0 2
Totals 16-46 5-6 8-25 6 13 42
Percentages: FG .348. FT .833. 3-Point FG: 5-20, .250 (Van De Brake 2-3, Peake 2-4, Cluff 0-7, Peters 0-2,Strock 1-3, Juarez 0-1). Blocked Shots: 2 (Strock 2). Steals: 2 (Cluff, Juarez). Turnovers: 10 (Van De Brake 2, Peake 2, Cluff 2, Peters 1, Juarez 2, Swanson 1).
FG FT Reb
LYNDEN Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Josh Kraght 23 1-3 2-2 1-5 3 4 5
Kyle Mark 1 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Zach Vis 26 2-3 1-5 1-4 3 2 5
John Shine 28 7-15 4-6 7-9 0 0 18
Dak Shagren 27 5-12 2-2 0-2 2 2 13
Jaremy Martin 20 6-10 0-0 4-5 0 1 12
Scott Hastings 15 2-2 0-0 1-5 2 2 4
Jalani Phelps 1 0-0 2-2 0-0 0 0 2
Sterling Somers 1 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 0 0
Matt Meyer 15 0-5 1-4 2-6 0 2 1
Marcus Fakkema 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Bret DeGraaff 1 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 0 0
Totals 23-51 12-21 16-39 10 13 60
Percentages: FG .451, FT .571. 3-Point FG: 2-10, .200 (Kraght 1-2, Shine 0-4, Shagren 1-4). Blocked Shots: 2 (Hastings 2). Steals: 4 (Vis, Shine, Shagren, Phelps). Turnovers: 7 (Kraght 2, Vis 1, Shine 2, Shagren 1, Martin 1).