YAKIMA - A year ago, the first Saturday in March was like a holiday in the city of Lynden.
It was like Christmas - better than Christmas. And in Lynden that is saying something, but in a town where basketball is like a religion, it's not all that far off base.
But one year after the Lynden and Lynden Christian boys' basketball teams won state championships on the same day, Christmas Eve was wrecked.
Less than two hours after the Lions had their dreams stolen by a familiar Grinch in the Class 2A state semifinals, the Lyncs suffered a similar fate in the 1A state semifinals on Friday, March 1, at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
Like Lynden, Lynden Christian suffered a poor shooting night, hitting 11 for 37 from the field, but the Lyncs also committed 18 turnovers, and that was enough for King's to come back in the fourth quarter and deal them a 45-38 loss.
"Man, what a tough day for our town," Lynden Christian coach Roger De Boer said. "But it's all part of the process."
That process now means the Lyncs (23-6), like Lynden, will play in the third-place game at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 2, against Cedar Park Christian.
"We've got to hold our heads high," said LC senior Isaac Reimer, who finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. "We've got to realize this (Saturday) will be our last game. For me, that's all the motivation I need. I'm going to come out and play the best game I possibly can and hopefully help us finish up with a win."
It wasn't that Reimer or any of his teammates didn't play hard on Friday.
They played their guts out, out-rebounding King's 44-21.
But they simply didn't have the offensive consistency against a Knights squad that they managed to beat last month in the 1A Northwest District Tournament game.
"I don't thing King's really did anything differently from what they did in that (district) game," De Boer said. "They just hit more of their shots. We knew they were going to trap."
And trap, King's did.
The Knights three-quarter and mid-court pressure trap defense rarely seemed to actually trap the Lyncs, but it did force them into making a number of poor, hurried decisions.
And more times than not, that spelled turnover.
King's picked the Lyncs' pocket for seven steals and forced 18 more turnovers, while it committed only six.
"We knew it was coming," De Boer said of the pressure. "That's what they do. But we just didn't seem to handle it as well this time."
That showed in LC shooting percentage.
Though the Lyncs shot adequately in the first half, when they hit 6 of 16 shots (37.5 percent) and only trailed 21-19, they slumped to a 23.8 percentage (5 for 21) in the second half.
Lynden Christian actually came out in the second half moderately well. Reimer hit off an assist from Daulton Hommes with 4:53 to play in the third, before feeding Dustin Brandsma on LC's next possession to give the Lyncs a 24-23 lead.
Reimer then nailed a 3-pointer to give the Lyncs a four-point lead.
But King's battled back to tie the game, before Zach Roetcisocender hit a pull-up jumper to give the Lyncs a 29-27 lead heading the fourth. Little did LC know that would be their final field goal until Dustin Brandsma hit a desperation 3-pointer in the game's final seconds.
LC went 1 for 8 from the field in the fourth quarter and turned the ball over nine times in the final eight minutes.
"They really disrupted what we were trying to do," Reimer said. "When we did get the ball into our offense, we just weren't hitting our shots."
With LC struggling, the Knights battled back to tie the game, before Caleb Taylor hit a jumper in the lane to give them a 33-31 lead with 4:55 to play.
David Barhanovich then picked up a steal. He missed the lay-up, but Calvin Kispert was able to convert after an offensive rebound.
Another steal, this one by Taylor, and a lay-up, and suddenly, the Lyncs found themselves in a six-point hole, 37-31, with just over 4 minutes to play.
Though Brandsma, who finished with 11 points, hit a pair of free throws to close the gap to four, Taylor's 3-pointer with 2:14 left pushed the lead back to eight and all but ended the Lyncs' hopes of a repeat.
Taylor finished with a game-high 18 points and logged two steals. Barhanovich led the way with three thefts.
"We told the guys we can be mad about this, we can be sad about this, we can feel sorry for ourselves, or we can embrace the moment," De Boer said. "God put this before us, and it is up to us to embrace this moment. We're shaken by this loss. We had hopes to play for a title, and we won't get that opportunity. It can take a little while for this hurt to heal, but we can put it behind us and move forward and try to end our season on a positive note."
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
KING'S 45, LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 38
Lynden Christian 11 8 10 9 - 38
King's 13 8 6 18 - 45
FG FT Reb
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Nathan Meppelink 25 0-2 2-3 1-4 0 1 2
Zach Roetcisocender 14 1-4 0-0 0-0 1 1 2
Levi Vander Yacht 14 0-1 0-0 1-3 0 1 0
Truman Van Dalen 23 1-5 1-2 0-6 2 1 3
Daulton Hommes 20 0-4 2-2 2-2 1 2 2
Dustin Brandsma 31 4-11 2-2 1-6 0 4 11
Willy Scholten 9 0-1 2-2 2-3 0 0 2
Isaac Reimer 28 5-11 5-9 3-12 1 3 16
Totals 11-39 14-20 12-43 4 13 38
Percentages: FG 28.2, FT 70.0. 3-Point FG: 2-16, 12.5 (Dustin Brandsma 1-3; Isaac Reimer 1-5, Daulton Hommes 0-4, Zach Roetcisocender 0-2, Levi Vander Yacht 0-1). Blocked Shots: 2 (Isaac Reimer 1, Daulton Hommes 1). Steals: 0. Turnovers: 18 (Truman Van Dalen 6, Daulton Hommes 4, Willy Scholten 2, Zach Roetcisocender 2, Dustin Brandsma 2, Nathan Meppelink 1, Levi Vander Yacht 1, Willy Scholten 1, Isaac Reimer 1).
FG FT Reb
KING'S Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Andrew Ayers 25 0-6 1-2 0-1 2 2 1
Brian Hughes 10 0-1 0-1 0-3 2 3 0
Caleb Taylor 32 6-11 4-6 1-5 3 3 18
Reid Jones 30 1-9 0-0 1-4 0 2 2
Josh Alexander 6 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 3
David Barhanovich 27 1-2 2-2 0-0 2 4 5
Jacob Storkson 6 2-4 0-0 1-1 0 1 6
Daniel Fouty 4 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Calvin Kispert 17 5-9 0-0 0-0 0 2 10
Mason Friedline 9 0-3 0-0 0-1 1 2 0
Totals 16-47 7-11 5-23 10 16 45
Percentages: FG .34.0, FT .63.6. 3-Point FG: 6-13, .462 (Taylor 2-3, Storkson 2-4, Barhanovich 1-1, Alexander 1-1, Ayers 0-4l). Blocked Shots: 1 (Jones). Steals: 7 (Barhanovich 2, Taylor 2. Ayers 1, Jones 1, Alexander 1). Turnovers: 6 (Ayers 2, Kispert 1, Hughes 1, team 2).