LYNDEN - The Sehome boys' basketball team did itself a favor and took a lot of stress out of next week's final night of the regular season.
The Mariners still could get the Northwest Conference's No. 1 seed or find themselves out of the playoffs all together, but a huge win over NWC-leading Lynden Christian ensures Sehome controls its own destiny.
"We knew we wanted it," Mariners guard Leif Anderson said. "Postseason, we're at the edge of getting in, and we really needed it."
Sehome and Lynden Christian shared the lead several times, but hot fourth-quarter shooting and a tenacious defensive effort down the stretch propelled the Mariners to an important 61-59 NWC road victory Friday, Feb. 7, at Lynden Christian.
The Mariners (14-5, 8-3) earned their seventh win in their last eight games, while Class 1A No. 7-ranked LC (14-6, 9-3 NWC) dropped back-to-back games for the second time this year.
Sehome's Anderson and Marcus Montag each scored a team-high 12 points, and Evan Miksovsky, the Mariners only senior, scored 11, hauled in seven rebounds and handed out a game-high eight assists.
LC's Grant Wolffis led the Lyncs with 14 points, Cody Fransen chipped in 12 and Jake Poag and Josh Hornstra each scored 11. Zach Roetcisoender was limited to seven points.
"I'm just happy we could come out here and compete," Sehome coach AJ LaBree said. "I knew it was going to come down to the wire. I knew we weren't going away. It's just fortunate we were up two when the buzzer ended, because I think if we played all night we'd just keep going back and forth."
The game featured seven lead changes and a plethora of scoring runs, but it was the Mariners who put together the game's most important scoring string.
Lynden Christian built a 44-35 third-quarter lead when Sehome slowly started chipping away with 1:50 left. Anderson hit one of his four 3-pointers, which was followed by five straight points by Montag to pull Sehome to 46-43 heading into the fourth.
Anderson hit another triple to tie the game at 50, and Miksovsky turned the momentum in Sehome's favor with two more 3s, giving the Mariners a 56-50 edge with 4:05 to go.
Miksovsky, who had been quiet scoring most of the night, recorded nine of his 11 in the final period.
Montage buried a huge 3-pointer with 1:50 to go, which pushed Sehome's lead to 59-54, and the Mariners were able to hold off Lynden Christian's finally rally.
"Evan stepped up and hit a couple of big 3s," LaBree said. "He's kind of a streaky 3-point shooter, but having a senior step up fourth quarter, big game, big atmosphere - he's been sick all week - it was cool to see him do that."
Sehome's Elijah Andrushenko scored four points, but his impact was felt on the glass. He hauled in a team-best eight rebounds, and LaBree felt he was true difference maker.
While Andrushenko manned the inside, Sehome's array of speedy guards on top of the team's zone defense created havoc for LC's ball handlers.
The Mariners forced LC into 16 turnovers and forced the Lyncs into some sloppy play during the final eight minutes.
"Evan (Miksovsky) is the best defender in the league, no doubt," Anderson said. "Tanner (Clark) has quick arms, quick hands, and I got long arms to tip."
Sehome's 10-man rotation allowed the Mariners to play their best defense in the end of the game, but Lynden Christian took advantage of the hectic zone defense in the first half.
Trailing 18-13, the Lyncs used a 13-0 run driven by Poag's breakout second quarter. The sophomore guard found a sweet spot on along the left baseline and hit back-to-back 3s prompting a Sehome timeout. Poag hit another triple right before the half, scoring all 11 of his points in the second quarter.
"That Poag kid hit some big shots," LaBree said. "He just sat in the corner and bombs away."
Sehome faces Burlington-Edison next at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, at Sehome High, and can earn a district playoff spot with a win. LaBree also said the Mariners would get in with a Squalicum loss to Anacortes, no matter what happens between Sehome and Burlington-Edison.
LC begins the Class 1A District Tournament next with a game against Nooksack Valley at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10, at Lynden Christian.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
SEHOME 61, LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 59
Sehome 12 17 14 18 - 61
Lynden Christian 11 22 13 13 - 59
Sehome: Evan Miksovsky 11, Langston Engle 0, Marcus Montag 5, Elijah Andrushenko 4, Sam Carroll 4, Leif Anderson 12, Duncan James 2, Logan Deboo 5, Tanner Clark 8, Leighton Kingma 3. Team totals: 22-55 5-14 61.
Lynden Christian: Jo Meppelink 0, Jake Van Berkum 2, Daulton Lootens 0, Jake Poag 11, Zach Roetcisoender 7, Grant Wolffis 14, Josh Hornstra 11, Cody Fransen 12, Logan Carlson 0, Josh Friberg 0, Lucas Roetcisoender 2. Team totals: 21-48 11-16 59.
3-ptg: Sehome 10 (Anderson 4), LC 6 (Poag 3). Rebounds: Sehome 31 (Andrushenko 8), LC 31 (Hornstra 8). Assists: Sehome 15 (Miksovsky 8), LC 6 (Z. Roetcisoender 3). Fouls: Sehome 14, LC 13. Turnovers: Sehome 9, LC 15.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.