Exactly how many times Lynden Christian's Makayla Lancaster has offered a pained, slightly-confused look of bewilderment toward a referee this year is unknown.
She doesn't seek to hide it too often, either, raising her hands in the air after the whistle blows, watching the referee make his way to the scoring table to call a foul on No. 10.
But despite standing amongst a sea of 6-foot posts, the barely 5-foot-5 guard is at the heart of a Lyncs defense that is only allowing 35.5 points per game this season.
"My specialty is defense. I've always been in people's grills and tried to get them annoyed," Lancaster said. "I was always taught to be in their face."
Her oftentimes frustrating defensive pressure has helped the LC girls' basketball team (21-2, Northwest Conference 12-0) claim both the 1A Northwest District and Tri-District titles as it awaits its state regional-round game against Freeman at noon on Saturday, March 1, at Mount Vernon High School. If the Lyncs win, they will advance to the 2014 Hardwood Classic in Yakima.
Defense, in no small manner, has helped get LC to within a few games of a state title, Lancaster being at the forefront of that charge by unnerving those opposite her.
"Don't let them go middle and just get the ball from them and get them frustrated," said Lancaster on how she approaches stopping other guards. "Make them go to their bad hand. Get in their face. Don't let them go where they want to go.
"It's really fun."
LC has held its last 15 opponents to less than 45 points per game, with the only two schools to score more than that this season being No. 1-ranked Cashmere and No. 2-ranked Brewster in late-December meetings.
But Lancaster's role isn't merely relegated to being a thorn agitating her defensive assignment. It's much larger than that, coach Curt De Haan said.
"This is her third year as a starter for us, and you develop a lot of confidence in a point guard that has been with you and led the way for the last three years," De Haan said. "That's why I use the term, 'quarterback,' because (she's) similar to what you would have on the football field, leading the way out there."
Lancaster's scoring just 3.1 points per game, but her ability to turn defense into offense in the fast break has in some degree helped six players for the Lyncs average at least 5.8 points per game.
In LC's 67-30 win over Cascade Christian in the championship game at tri-districts on Feb. 22, Lancaster led the team with seven steals in just 16 minutes of play. The back breaker, though, came right before halftime when she jumped a passing lane that led to her hitting a teammate in stride for an open layup.
"We like to pressure our opponent, and she's the one that gets it started with her pressure on their point guard," De Haan said.
Sometimes her temperament on defense comes at a price, with touchy fouls relegating her to the bench earlier than De Haan would hope.
"We have chats every once in a while that she's more valuable on the court than she is sitting next to me," De Haan said. "I tell them they have to play the game the way it's called."
Lancaster, being a three-year varsity starter as a junior, is aware enough to know when she's in the wrong. That doesn't mean she always has to agree, though.
"Sometimes with little ones I get frustrated with that," Lancaster said. "I try not to show my emotion, but it sometimes comes out."
Toeing the line between being out of control and being aggressive has been a lesson in maturation, De Haan said, adding that if this team is going to make a run at the Class 1A state championship, it will be with the feisty guard doing what she does best.
"She has what I call, 'grit,'" De Haan said. "She has that tenacity. ... She's got this never-quit mentality. Saw that day one from her as a freshman."
Reach Alex Bigelow at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN VS. FREEMAN
When: Noon, Saturday, March 1
Where: Mount Vernon High School
Player G Pts. Avg.
Makayla Lancaster 19 59 3.1
Haley Hollander 23 56 2.4
Kara Bajema 23 296 12.9
Courtney Hollander 20 178 8.9
Sally Vlas 23 169 7.3
Kassidy Aldrich 20 74 3.7
Karley de Jager 23 197 8.6
Sara Dougan 22 137 6.2
Morgan van Koten 21 121 5.8
E. Bailey 4 4 1.0
S. Blandsma 3 4 1.3
Shaye Brandsma 1 0 0.0
Brittney Te Velde 3 0 0.0
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN (21-2), (12-0)
Dec. 5 Sehome W, 72-7
Dec. 6 at Kings W, 46-44
Dec. 9 Ferndale W, 55-37
Dec. 16 Burlington-Edison W, 57-37
Dec. 19 Blaine* W, 44-42
Dec. 27 Brewster L, 68-39
Dec. 28 Cashmere L, 51-39
Jan. 2 at Bellingham* W, 59-38
Jan. 6 Mount Baker* W, 62-44
Jan. 9 at Burlington-Edison* W, 45-31
Jan. 14 Anacortes* W, 42-29
Jan. 17 Lynden* W, 38-32
Jan. 21 at Ferndale* W, 48-43
Jan. 25 Friday Harbor* W, 65-24
Jan. 27 at Sedro-Woolley* W, 73-38
Jan. 30 Meridian* W, 71-17
Feb. 1 at Nooksack Valley* W, 52-24
Feb. 3 Squalicum* W, 58-31
Feb. 7 at Sehome* W, 75-31
CLASS 1A NORTHWEST DISTRICT
Feb. 11 Meridian W, 59-7
Feb. 13 Mount Baker W, 67-41
Feb. 15 King's W, 46-36
CLASS 1A TRI-DISTRICTS
Feb. 22 Cascade Christian W, 67-30