LYNDEN - After the No. 8-ranked Lynden Christian boys' basketball team finished singing its fight song with the Lyncs' student section, the team began walking off the court toward its locker room.
The group stopped 10 feet in front of the room's entrance. They had a decision to make.
Go in the locker room and wait for coach Roger De Boer to finish his radio interview? Or stay out and celebrate the win with friends and family?
After a brief debate, the team decided to soak in the win and enjoy the celebration a bit longer.
The postgame atmosphere was far more joyous than 48 hours prior when Meridian stole a win on LC's home court.
"It feels good." Lyncs guard Jake Poag said. "Coming out here, we wanted to fight. Last game we didn't really do that that well, so we wanted to bounce back with a win tonight."
Lynden Christian played loose, aggressive and confident, and most importantly, avoided elimination with a 68-48 win against Mount Baker during the Class 1A District Tournament's second round of consolation bracket play.
The win advances LC (16-7, 9-3 NWC) to the Class 1A Tri-District Tournament, and the Lyncs turn around quickly to face Friday Harbor at 12:45 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, at Mountlake Terrace High School to see who earns the third or fourth seed at tri-districts.
The loss ended the Mountianeers' season.
Lynden Christian's Zach Roetcisoender led the Lyncs with 16 points, and Poag shot well from the outside, hitting five 3s for 15 points.
Rueben Murashov scored a team-high 12 for the Mountaineers (5-18, 2-10 NWC), who struggled to make the most of their possessions.
De Boer said his Lyncs spent much of practice Thursday, Feb. 13, analyzing the team's mental, emotional and spiritual state following the district home semifinal loss to Meridian on Wednesday, Feb. 12.
With all the pressure from the community and the coaches to perform, De Boer wanted to see his club enjoy itself again, and the Lyncs did just that.
"I thought they responded really well," De Boer said. "What I was most pleased about was seeing their faces and seeing the fun they had tonight, trying to get that back in our system. I felt we played looser and with more confidence and covered more ground defensively."
The offensive confidence LC displayed transpired thanks to an energetic, turnover-causing defensive effort.
Lynden Christian caused 13 of Mount Baker's 18 turnovers and nearly put the game out of reach by forcing a barrage of second-quarter Mountaineer mishaps.
LC led just 18-15 after the first quarter but outscored Baker 19-2 in the second to take a 37-17 lead into halftime.
"I think we came out a little more ready," Roetcisoender said. "We knew that one game didn't define our season. We wanted to prove as a group tonight, that the last game didn't define us."
Roetcisoender scored seven of his 16 points in the second, and Poag, who De Boer said was setup with great passes from his teammates all night, connected on two of his four first-half 3s in the second eight minutes.
"I thought we forced a lot of turnovers, and when we started forcing turnovers they got a little rattled and on their heels," De Boer said. "We kind of said, 'Hey we can do this,' and broke through. All of a sudden that shot feels a lot better. It goes down a little easier."
LC extended its lead in the third and rotated 12 different players into the game. Eleven out of the 12 scored.
Friday's game marked the last one for Mount Baker's seniors Isaac Gilmore, Murashov, Drew Nicol, Cody Larson, Seth Bass, Conner Brandland, Josh Barbo and Andrew Zender.
Murashov ended a strong career and finished this season averaging 15.1 points per game.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 68, MOUNT BAKER 48
Mount Baker 15 2 12 19 - 48
Lynden Chr. 18 19 19 12 - 68
Mount Baker: Isaac Gilmore 2, Reuben Murashov 12, Drew Nicol 3, Cody Larson 0, Seth Bass 3, Colton Ranson 4, Conner Brandland 7, Josh Barbo 2, Andrew Zender 3, Tanner Bass 0, T.J Bass 6, Grant Balvanz 6. Team totals: 17-44 7-14 48.
Lynden Christian: Josiah Meppelink 3, Jake Van Berkum 2, Daulton Lootens 7, Jake Poag 15, Zach Roetcisoender 16, Grant Wolffis 4, Josh Hornstra 5, Koy Sterk 2, Cody Fransen 0, Logan Carlson 7, Josh Friberg 3, Lucas Roetcisoender 4. Team totals: 25-47 9-14 68.
3-ptg: Mount Baker 7 (Balvanz/Murashov 2), Lynden Christian 9 (Poag 5). Rebounds: Mount Baker 17 (Gilmore 4), Lynden Christian 24 (Carlson 6). Assists: Mount Baker 3 (three with 1), Lynden Christian 15 (Meppelink 4). Fouls: Mount Baker 14, Lynden Christian 12. Turnovers: Mount Baker 18, Lynden Christian 12.