BELLINGHAM - Lynden's boys took a huge step toward the Class 2A Northwest District Tournament with a 63-53 victory over Sehome, but Lions point guard Jaremy Martin still figures Evan Miksovsky "will definitely find a way to will the Mariners to district."
Martin and Miksovsky aren't just hard-nosed, hard-driving standouts, but also close friends after playing AAU basketball together in middle school. They provided an inspiring example of sportsmanship by linking arms as Miksovsky's mother snapped a photo after what could have been their last game against each other.
"He's a great guy," Martin said of Miksovsky, who saw his Lynden buddy play one of the best quarters of his life with four consecutive baskets in the third period on Monday, Jan. 27, to guide the defending district champion Lions (13-2 overall, 6-2 Northwest Conference) to a 48-41 advantage.
But Martin knew any team with Miksovsky and talented junior shooters Leif Anderson and Tanner Clark is never done after three quarters, no matter how hard Lynden plays.
Sure enough, the intense young Mariners (11-5, 5-3) went on a 10-0 run for a 51-all tie with 4:36 remaining. Miksovsky, who had 10 points, 10 rebounds and 8 steals, opened the comeback with a daring drive. Langston Engle followed with a free throw and Elijah Andrushenko scored on a hook shot off a rebound before Miksovsky scored on another drive.
Clark, who had 13 points, then tied it with a 3-pointer off a pass from fellow junior guard Anderson, who kept Sehome in the game with a game-high 19 points, including five 3-pointers.
The Lions, though, didn't seem the least bit fazed and kept their cool while ending the game with a 12-2 run. Junior guard Trey Shagren snapped the 51-all tie with a 3-pointer, his only basket of the game.
Sophomore guard Sterling Somers - who led the Lions with 17 points including 9 in the final quarter - followed with an off-balance shot off the glass with 3:40 remaining when he found himself open in traffic.
The Lions closed in on wrapping up the win with a free throw by Scooter Hastings, followed by a pair of free throws by Somers for a 59-53 lead at 1:49 as Anderson fouled out.
Somers then made the key play of the game - a steal with 1:22 remaining. Martin did an expert job of managing the clock and then made a free throw to make it 60-53 with 54 seconds left.
Somers clinched the win at 62-53 with a pair of free throws with 28 seconds left.
Martin, the muscular 6-foot-2 senior who led the Lions to the Class 2A state football title, said he takes great joy in being one of the physically strongest point guards in recent local memory.
"I played point in middle school (during his days with Miksovsky) and I love it," said Martin, who matched teammate Jalani Phelps with 13 points. "I love helping my teammates get better and I love how they help make me better."
Lynden coach Brian Roper was especially gratified by how the only two reserves he used, Parker Harrison and Caden Lair, "gave us a huge lift off the bench."
"I'm really proud of how Parker and Caden gave us some great minutes," he said of the active pair, who combined for 10 points - the margin of victory.
Phelps was a first-half spark, hitting his first three shots from the field. Somers went 6 for 6 from the line, including four free throws in the fourth quarter.
Sehome coach A.J. LaBree expressed pride in how his hustling team came back in the first half of the final quarter against the taller Lions, but the Mariners shot only 4 for 13 for that entire period and finished 19 for 52 from the field-not enough to beat a team the caliber of Lynden.
"I believe in that team (Sehome)," said Martin, who would love to see Miksovsky at both district and state. "He will definitely find a way to will the Mariners to district."
If Anderson and Clark continue to improve for the Mariners, along with their multitude of young teammates - Miksovsky is the only senior - they could offer a lot more than Miksovsky's ever-present will to win.
Sehome next plays at Nooksack Valley on Thursday, Jan. 30, then finishes with three tough opponents - Meridian, Lynden Christian and Burlington-Edison.
Lynden faces likely an even more challenging final four games, beginning at Blaine on Friday, Jan. 31, followed by Ferndale, Meridian and NWC title hopeful Sedro-Woolley.
LYNDEN 63, SEHOME 53
Lynden 17 14 17 15 -63
Sehome 14 12 15 12 -53
Lynden: Sterling Somers 17, Jalani Phelps 13, Jaremy Martin 13, Scooter Hastings 7, Trey Shagren 3, Parker Harrison 6, Caden Lair 4. Team totals: 20-41 18-27 63.
Sehome: Evan Miksovsky 10, Leif Anderson 19, Tanner Clark 13, Elijah Andrushenko 4, Duncan James 4, Langston Engle 1, Sam Carroll 2, Marcus Montag 0, Logan Deboo 0. Team totals: 19-52 8-12 53.
3-ptg: Lynden 5 (Somers 3); Sehome 7 (Anderson 5). Rebounds: Lynden 34 (Hastings, Somers 7); Sehome 26 (Miksovsky 10). Assists: Lynden 8 (Somers 4); Sehome 7 (Anderson 3). Total fouls: Lynden 13, Sehome 20 (Anderson fouled out).