YAKIMA - What started with a case of the sniffles during a quarterfinal win over Yakima East Valley on Friday, Feb. 28, progressed into a nervous tickle in the back of the throat during the first half of a semifinal showdown against Anacortes on Friday, March 1.
Before the Lynden boys' basketball team knew it, it had a full blown bout with the heavy-hitting cold spell in the second half.
And unfortunately, there was simply no quick remedy for the Lions.
Lynden went an uncharacteristically arctic 17 for 56 from the field during its Class 2A state semifinal against Anacortes, including an almost unthinkable 4 for 26 in the second half, and the Seahawks shot just well enough to grab a 52-44 lead and dash the Lions' hope of a repeat championship.
"That's a down locker room right now," Lynden coach Brian Roper said. "But there is a lot of pride in those guys. We've got to regroup and get ready to come out strong tomorrow."
Unfortunately for the Lions, the game they'll be playing in Saturday, March 2, won't be the game they were expecting.
Or even the one they're accustomed to. For the first time in five sports seasons, a 2A championship game in football, basketball or baseball will not involve a team from Lynden.
That right to compete for the title, this time, goes to Northwest Conference rival Anacortes, which will play for the crown for the first time since it lost back-to-back championship games to Seattle Lincoln in 1956 and 1957. The Seahawks (21-7) will face Pullman at 9 p.m. on Saturday.
Lynden (24-2) will likely be on the trip home by that time after having played an 11:15 a.m. game against Renton. The game will be a match-up between the two teams that were ranked No. 1 for most of the season, but they instead will be playing to decide third and fifth place.
"We're a close knit team," Lynden senior Dak Shagren said. "We'll lean on each other a little and pull together and get ourselves ready to play tomorrow."
The Lions can only hope they leave their shooting woes behind them.
On Thursday, they made up for shooting 43.4 percent from the floor by getting to the offensive boards and converting for second-chance points.
But not even many of their second opportunities seemed to hit their mark on Friday.
Lynden collected 18 offensive rebounds in the game, but converted them for only 12 points.
The Lions started off relatively slow, hitting 13 of 30 first-half field goal attempts (43.3) percent) as they struggled against the 2-3 zone Anacortes set up in, as opposed to the man defense the Seahawks used in Lynden's two regular-season wins.
"I think we came out a little stagnant on offense," Roper said. "When we did get our opportunities, we didn't hit our shots from the perimeter. ... Anacortes has good length, and that really got to us. I give (Anacortes coach) Brett Senff credit for coming up with a great game plan. We haven't had too many teams play the zone against us, because we have too many guys that can score."
And things only seemed to get worse from there - much worse. In the second half, Lynden connected on only 4 of 26 shots.
It didn't matter where they shot. Inside they were 2 for 10. Beyond the 3-point arc, they were 2 for 16. Even at the free throw line they went 2 for 6 in the second half and 5 for 12 in the game.
"We just shot the ball poorly," said Shagren, who finished with four points. "Playing in the dome, their defensive pressure and the way they were flying around, an off night - it all led to a bad night."
Not that Anacortes was all that much better, as it hit 17 for 44 shots (38.6 percent).
But the Seahawks seemed to hit theirs at key moments.
And nobody was more clutch that Jeremiah Stielow, who came off the bench to score a game-high 17 points.
"You got to tip your cap to him," Roper said. "He didn't play all that much, and he wasn't even on our radar, and he hit some big, big shots tonight."
None were bigger than the 3-pointer he drained with 7:02 to play in the game, which put Anacortes ahead to stay at 39-38.
And just for good measure, he got a lay-up on a fast break two possessions later to give the Seahawks a three-point advantage with 5:35 to play.
Stielow's two buckets capped an 11-1 to Anacortes run over the final 4:52 of the third quarter and the first 2:25 of the fourth.
During that time, Lynden went 0 for 7 from the field, 0 for 2 from the line and turned the ball over four times.
The lead was also the Seahawks' first since midway through the second quarter, when Lynden had used a 13-4 run to erase its early shooting struggles and take a 32-26 lead into the intermission.
When Stielow converted a 3-point play with 4:45 to play in the fourth, the Lions suddenly found themselves in a four-point hole, 44-40.
And Lynden seemed to start to panic, relying heavily on 3-point jumpers that just weren't falling.
"I wish we had attacked the rim a little more there at the end," Roper said. "But we haven't been behind in more than two months, and perhaps we got a little over anxious there."
With the 3s not falling, Anacortes continued to pull away. A.J. Yost put back a miss to give the Seahawks a six-point lead, before sophomore Ty Johnson hit six straight free throws to ice the game.
Yost finished with 10 points, while three other Seahawks scored at least six points and Billy King had 10 rebounds.
Though John Shine had an off night shooting, he finished with 14 points to lead the Lions, while Zach Vis grabbed a team-high eight rebounds and Matt Meyer finished with seven.
"I told them that we love them, and we're proud of them, and that they have brought a lot of joy to this coaching staff and this community," Roper said. "We have ... 18 more hours that we're going to be together as a team, so we've got to put this one behind us so that we can come ready to play our last game together tomorrow."
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
ANACORTES 52, LYNDEN 44
Lynden 11 21 5 7 - 44
Anacortes 12 14 8 18 - 52
FG FT Reb
LYNDEN Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Josh Kraght 26 2-6 0-0 1-2 1 3 5
Kyle Mark 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Zach Vis 25 1-3 0-0 1-8 1 0 3
John Shine 32 6-19 0-0 2-3 1 3 14
Dak Shagren 28 1-9 1-2 3-5 2 1 4
Jaremy Martin 17 2-4 3-8 3-4 1 1 7
Scott Hastings 12 2-6 0-0 2-3 1 5 4
Matt Meyer 22 3-9 1-2 3-7 0 1 7
Totals 17-56 5-12 18-39 7 14 44
Percentages: FG 30.4, FT 41.7. 3-Point FG: 21-7, 21.7 (John Shine 2-12; Josh Kraght 1-3, Zach Vis 1-2, Dak Shagren 1-5, Matt Meyer 0-1). Blocked Shots: 0. Steals: 5 (Josh Kraght 2, John Shine 2, Dak Shagren 1). Turnovers: 9 (Dak Shagren 4, Jaremy Martin 2, Josh Kraght 1, Zach Vis 1, Matt Meyer 1).
FG FT Reb
ANACORTES Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Matt Aldridge 27 2-7 0-1 0-2 0 3 6
Ty Johnson 24 0-3 6-6 0-0 1 0 6
Jeremiah Stielow 12 7-9 1-1 0-0 1 0 17
Zach Hiles 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
A.J. Yost 26 4-10 0-0 1-4 1 2 10
Sam D'Amelio 20 1-4 1-2 1-2 0 2 3
Andrew Medalia 21 0-3 2-2 3-7 0 3 2
Billy King 32 3-8 2-2 1-10 1 4 8
Joe D'Amelio 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Totals 17-44 12-14 8-33 4 14 52
Percentages: FG 38.6, FT 85.7. 3-Point FG: 6-16, 37.5 (Jeremiah Stielow 2-3, Matt Aldridge 2-5; A.J. Yost 2-4, Ty Johnson 0-3, Sam D'Amelio 0-1). Blocked Shots: 0. Steals: 6 (Matt Aldridge 2, Billy King 2, Ty Johnson 1, Andrew Medalia 1). Turnovers: 9 (Andrew Medalia 2, A.J. Yost 2, Matt Aldridge 1, Ty Johnson 1, Jeremiah Stielow 1, Billy King 1, team 1).