YAKIMA - Anacortes coach Brett Senff took a gamble, and his call paid off in a big way.
Lynden hasn't seen a lot of zone this year, and there's a good explanation for that. The Lions are usually an outstanding shooting team. Senff learned that when Anacortes lost to Lynden for the second time this year 75-58 back on Jan. 4. The Seahawks also lost to the Lions 61-51 on Dec. 12.
"The second time we played them at home, we went to a 2-3 zone and they put 50 on us in a half," Senff said. "So we were definitely worried about the short corners and the 3s open on the wing and, in particular, the high post."
The third time was the charm for the Seahawks. Lynden shot just 30.4 percent from the field and 15.4 percent (4 of 26) in the second half, as the Lions fell to Anacortes 52-44 in the Class 2A State Tournament semifinals Friday, March 1, at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
Not many teams dare to give Dak Shagren or John Shine open looks from beyond the arch. Anacortes did. Low and behold, it worked. Blame it on the difficulty of shooting in the SunDome or maybe the Lions' legs were fatigued from playing the day before, but Lynden was flat out ice cold.
"I would have liked for us to attack the basket a little more," Lynden coach Brian Roper said. "We haven't been behind in two months, so perhaps we got a little bit anxious there. Anacortes played a good game and hit some big shots."
Lynden shot 21.7 percent (5 of 23) from the 3-point line. John Shine, who shot well Thursday night, was 2 of 12. Still, Roper has the utmost confidence and Shine, saying "he's the guy I want shooting the ball."
Anacortes is usually a man-to-man team, but Senff said he largely decided to switch to zone because of player input.
"We have a whole lot of trust in our kids and what they have to say," Senff said. "We talked to them throughout the day, and they wanted to stay in the zone. We said, 'Let them shoot it from the outside, and we'll go board.'"
It didn't help Lynden that Anacortes' Jeremiah Stielow had a career day. The Anacortes guard only played 11 minutes, 32 seconds but scored a game-high 17 points on 5 of 6 six shooting with two of the field goals coming from 3-point land. Senff said Stielow has been battling a foot injury this year and hasn't played as many minutes because of it.
"He was a difference maker," Roper said of Stielow. "He played with confidence. He played care free. I'd shake his hand right now if I saw him."
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.