LYNDEN - The Lions' 6-foot-7 junior forward Scott Hastings can shoot, pass and his strong inside-outside game makes him a matchup nightmare, but even with his ability, Lynden coach Brian Roper said Hastings is extremely unselfish.
Hastings may have passed on a few scoring opportunities, but when Squalicum had cut the Lions' lead to their smallest of the second half, the junior didn't hesitate to let a game-altering 3-pointer fly from the left elbow.
The Storm rallied back in the fourth quarter from a double-digit deficit, but a triple from Hastings put a stop to Squalicum's run and the Lions escaped with a 58-46 Northwest Conference win Thursday, Jan. 2, at Jake Maberry Gymnasium in Lynden.
Squalicum (4-4, 0-1 NWC), which trailed 32-18 at half, charged back into the game and cut Lynden's lead to 42-39 following a 3-pointer at the top of arc from Storm freshman Damek Mitchell, who finished with a game-high 18 points. But Hastings answered right back on the next possession, halting Squalicum's momentum.
"When you have a situation like that when you give up a lead and lose the momentum, you have to have guys make plays and Hastings 3-pointer right in front of the bench was a big one, because it built it up to six," Roper said.
True to form, Hastings said he wasn't looking to take over. He just got an open look.
"It just came to me," he said. "I didn't think about it. 'Hey, I'm open, why not shoot it?'"
Hastings scored 16 points and pulled in seven rebounds, which matched him for the team high with Jalani Phelps. Senior guard Jaremy Martin scored 11 of his team-high 17 points in the second half and scored nine in the final eight minutes. Sterling Somers added 10 and four assists for Lynden (8-0, 2-0 NWC).
Squalicum's Benjamin Garcia scored seven of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, and Blake Youtsey had 10 points to go along with 18 from Mitchell, who Roper said "is a freshman with some moxie." With Youtsey struggling to find open looks, Mitchell hit several big shots to lead the Storm's comeback effort, including three 3-pointers.
In a game of runs, Lynden made the first one and quickly forced the Storm to play catch-up the rest of the game.
The Lions ended the first quarter on a 13-0 run after trailing 5-2 early and took a 15-0 run into the second quarter. Lynden's defense held Squalicum scoreless from the 6:30 mark in the first quarter until 7:37 was left in the second.
"You need to play four quarters in this league to get it done, and we certainly had a sluggish first half," Squalicum coach Dave Dickson said.
The Storm converted just 5 of 20 first-half shots, and Mitchell's eight second-quarter points kept Lynden within reach. The Lions, meanwhile, were 12 of 18 in the first half and switched back and forth from man defense to a 2-3 Zone.
"All week we practiced on where the shooters are and locating shooters," Hastings said. "I think our energy was really good this game. I think it was the best it's been all season."
Squalicum methodically chipped away at Lynden's lead in the second half. The Storm opened the third on an 11-6 run, and a pair of Youtsey free throws with 3:34 left cut the Lions' lead to 38-30. Trailing 40-32 heading into the fourth, a Garcia layup sandwiched between two Mitchell free throws and a 3-pointer from the freshman standout pulled the Storm to within three points.
But after Hastings' 3, the Storm couldn't hit the shots they'd been making earlier in the half. Lynden scored the next seven straight after Squalicum had closed the score to 45-41 with 4:12 to go.
Lynden, which struggled early from the free-throw line and finished 15 of 27, didn't have a problem converting them down the stretch.
"We got kids with competitiveness, and I thought they showed poise when Squalicum made a run," Roper said.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
LYNDEN 58, SQUALICUM 46
Squalicum 5 13 14 14 - 58
Lynden 15 17 8 18 - 46
Squalicum: Clark Hazlett 2, Remington Wilcox 0, Luke Weber 4, Alijah Garcia 0, Damek Mitchell 18, Benjamin Garcia 12, Blake Youtsey 10, Creighton Kaui 0. Team totals: 14-44 12-17 46.
Lynden: Jordan Wittenberg 4, Parker Harrison 0, Sterling Somers 10, Jaremy Martin 17, Scooter Hastings 16, Jalani Phelps 7, Caden Lair 4. Team totals: 19-38 15-27 58.
3-ptg: Squalicum 6 (Mitchell 3), Lynden 5 (Martin/Hastings 2). Rebounds: Squalicum 21 (Weber 7), Lynden 29 (Phelps/Hastings 7). Assists: Squalicum 6 (Weber 2), Lynden 8 (Somers 4). Fouls: Squalicum 18, Lynden 15. Turnovers: Squalicum 10, Lynden 14.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.