LYNDEN - Coach Roger De Boer has a well-earned reputation for developing depth on his Lynden Christian boys' basketball teams, but even he didn't suspect he would have to develop this much depth so quickly.
He lost three solid returning players in the regular rotation to injuries before the season began, but up stepped the likes of sophomores Jake Poag and Lucas Roetcisoender and senior Daulton Lootens.
Poag played on the C team as a freshman and Roetcisoender is still listed on the junior varsity roster. But they are solid varsity contributors, indeed, as they demonstrated in LC's 69-36 win over gritty but outmanned Nooksack Valley in the opening round of the Class 1A Northwest District Tournament on Monday, Feb. 10, before an appreciative LC home crowd.
De Boer used 10 players in the first quarter for LC (15-6), which stays home for the second round on Wednesday, Feb. 12, against Meridian (11-10), which opened with a 76-62 win over South Whidbey.
Nooksack (0-21) will be in the unusual position of trying to preserve its season while attempting to earn its first victory in a loser-out game the same night against South Whidbey.
Poag did not attempt a 2-point basket, but went 4 for 11 from 3-point range for 12 points while making four of his first six shots to help the Lyncs to a 38-18 halftime advantage.
That halftime score doesn't show just how hard Nooksack came out, trailing 17-12 after one quarter even though sophomore Connor Beard, the Pioneers' scoring leader with an 11-point average, was knocked out of the game with a sprained ankle in the opening seconds.
"This really is a dream come true," said Poag, who said he expected to play fulltime on the junior varsity this season and hoped to be called up for the postseason. "I didn't expect anything like this. My teammates do a great job of finding me."
De Boer wasn't exactly shocked - he saw Poag's potential last year.
"Jake did a good job of shooting on the C team and played well over the summer," he said. "Now he has totally embraced his role."
Lest any rival get the idea that Poag can be defended easily, the Lyncs' crew of mobile musclemen enjoyed a 54-28 rebound advantage and showed that anyone left open is fully capable of scoring, especially off rebounds.
Lootens, a 6-foot-3 senior, bounced off the bench late in the first quarter with a purposeful presence along with 6-foot-3 junior Cody Fransen. They combined for 12 points, including a pair of 3s. Roetcisoender, meanwhile, contributed a game-high four assists.
Logan Carlson, a 6-foot-8 senior, went 6 for 9 in a sixth-man role, exploding for 10 points and eight rebounds in the third quarter alone while showing an effective left hand to go with his usual right-handed power.
In all, LC's reserves scored 42 points. The starters also were effective as Grant Wolffis, Zach Roetcisoender, Jake Van Berkum and Josh Hornstra combined for 27 points and sophomore Jo Meppelink had a couple of nice early assists.
"Our rebounding was fantastic. Logan Carlson played with so much confidence while coming back from an ankle injury," De Boer said.
De Boer was impressed with Nooksack's sheer effort under challenging circumstances.
"I tip my hat to coach (Tyler) Mitchell," De Boer said. "His team enjoyed playing hard with a positive attitude. I didn't see any scowls or pouting or heads hanging."
Mitchell said his team will go all out for that first win.
"We definitely responded well in the first quarter," he said. "The kids really care about this and we have been playing better lately."
Nooksack's Noah Rawls played consistently hard for six rebounds, while Josh Gimmaka made a pair of 3s and combined with Aaron Bosscher for 16 points. Bosscher and junior guard Tanner Myhre both shot 3 for 8, but the Pioneers finished 13 for 52 in contrast to the Lyncs' 30-for-70 accuracy.
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 69, NOOKSACK VALLEY 36
Nooksack Valley 12 6 10 8 -- 36
Lynden Christian 17 21 11 20 -- 69
Nooksack Valley: Aaron Bosscher 9, Noah Rawls 5, Tanner Myhre 6, Josh Gimmaka 7, Eben Rossmiller 3, Connor Beard 0, Brady Wood 2, Joe McNeely 0, Seth Taron 2, Curtis Handy 2, Jeremy Toner 0. Team totals: 13-52 5-9 36.
Lynden Christian: Logan Carlson 12, Jake Poag 12, Jake Van Berkum 9, Grant Wolffis 9, Zach Roetcisoender 9, Josh Hornstra 2, Cody Fransen 7, Lucas Roetcisoender 2, Koy Sterk 4, Josh Friberg 0, Jo Meppelink 0, Daulton Lootens 5. Team totals 30-70 2-6 69.
3ptg: Nooksack 5 (Gimmaka 2); LC 7 (Poag 4). Rebounds: Nooksack 28 (Rawls 6); LC 54 (Carlson 8). Assists: Nooksack 6 (Bosscher 2); LC 14 (L. Roetcisoender 4, Meppelink 3). Total fouls: Nooksack 9, LC 11.