LYNDEN - If a certain quick junior point guard wants coach Rob Adams to call her by her nickname, she's going to have to keep playing well for Lynden.
Mandy Warner did just that, with a career-high 12 points in Lynden's 55-43 Northwest Conference girls' basketball victory over Nooksack Valley, including three 3-pointers and two game-clinching free throws on Monday, Jan. 13, at Jake Maberry Gym.
"It's Mandy! I've always been Mandy," she said with a grin after taking a rare turn in the scoring spotlight. "I don't know why he did that (listing her as Amanda on the roster)."
Adams was happy to take the blame.
"That's on me," he said with a smile even bigger than Warner's. "I listed her as Amanda. That's what I call her when I want to get her attention. If she wants to be Mandy, she has to stay out of (playing-making) trouble."
Adams was certainly impressed enough to call her Mandy on Monday.
"What really impressed me about Mandy was how she let her frustration over missing some open 3s in the first half translate into her outstanding defense in the second half," Adams said.
Warner said that was easy to explain following a 24-all first-half tie, with seven lead changes.
"Coach challenged us to step up our defense," said Warner, a 5-foot-5 third-year varsity guard who enjoys getting a bit lost in the crowd, so to speak, with 5-11 senior all-around standout Stephanie Somers and three 5-10 regulars - freshman scoring star Elisa Kooiman, junior Kaitlyn Mark and senior Ashlyn Morgan.
Adams said Nooksack Valley (9-3 overall, 1-3 NWC) provided a worthy challenge for his Lions (9-4, 4-1), just as he expected.
"They're so fundamentally sound and always so well coached by Shane Wichers. He does an amazing job," Adams said. "So I thought we took some steps forward tonight."
Those steps began with a 12-0 run to open the second half. Kooiman hit a 3 and Somers followed with a baseline bucket off a pass from Mark. Somers followed with two free throws, Kooiman converted a 3-point play and promising freshman guard Jasmyne Neria capped the run with an outside shot.
Nooksack, though, didn't panic after being held scoreless for the first 51/2 minutes of the third quarter. Lindsay Hayes drove baseline for a hoop off the glass and junior point guard Mariah Perry hit a 3 from the corner with two seconds left in the period.
The Lions, though, proved "relentless," which is Adams' theme for the season.
Three-pointers by Mark and Warner, along with a drive by Holly McKinley and a score by Kooiman off Mark's steal, put the Lions up 46-33.
But the Pioneers showed why they may be a Class 1A district threat, thanks to a 3-pointer by Cheyanna Maxwell and an outside shot by standout 6-foot sophomore prospect Brianna Turner, who led Nooksack with 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the floor and 10 rebounds.
That cut Lynden's lead to 46-38 with 3:48 remaining, but the Lions refused to lose their poise. Kooiman and Mark each hit a pair of free throws and Warner then wrapped it up with two more free throws for a 52-40 advantage with 2:26 to go.
Adams was pleased to see even more scoring balance than usual. Kooiman shot 5 for 11, including a pair of 3s, to match her scoring average with 15 points. Somers had 13 points, all in the final three quarters while shooting 5 for 8. Mark contributed seven points to go with Warner's 12.
Kooiman had eight rebounds and three steals and Somers finished with seven rebounds and three assists against the feisty Pioneers, who stayed impressively even with the physically relentless Class 2A Lions except for Lynden's 12-0 third-period run.
Adams wanted to remind fans that Lynden's next game will be at Lynden Christian on Thursday, Jan. 16, and not Friday as originally scheduled.
"(Local officials) figured a boy-girl doubleheader wouldn't work in the LC gym," he said. "We played that doubleheader here last year and we packed the place (at the huge Jake Maberry Gym)."
On Friday, Jan. 17, Nooksack will play host to Burlington-Edison, which handed Lynden its lone league loss.