YAKIMA - When King's wanted to steal Lynden Christian's hopes of a Class 1A state title away, the Lyncs responded like champions.
And when the clock struck zero, the Lyncs were just that: champions.
"It's indescribable," LC's Sally Vlas said. "My voice is gone. I've been dreaming of this for eight years ... to hear the song 'We are the Champions.'"
Lynden Christian defeated King's 55-40 to earn the Class 1A State Girls' Basketball Championship on Saturday, March 8.
Senior guard Courtney Hollander, who vividly remembers the Lyncs' loss to Freeman in the 2011 state championship, got her shot at redemption - a shot she didn't miss. Hollander finished the game with 11 points and a team-high 13 rebounds, accomplishing a goal of her's she's held since the fifth grade.
"Freshman year I had an opportunity to be in a state championship game, and unfortunately we didnt get it done," Hollander said, "so coming into this I kind of had that veteran feeling, and everything came together tonight."
It's the Lyncs' first championship since the 2008 season, and their 10th as a program, this one taking all 32 minutes against a Knights team that had eyes on an upset.
Lynden Christian staved off any late charge by King's with a balanced scoring attack. Kara Bajema led the Lyncs with a team-high 13 points. Vlas added 11 and Sara Dougan had 10 - five of which came in a key third-quarter stretch.
"Our focus this year has always been, 'Team is greater than I' and we tried to look at what other teams give us," LC coach Curt De Haan said. "(Saturday), when those people got taken away, our other girls stepped up, and thats really great to have a balanced attack especially in a huge game like this. The girls are always willing to give it up for each other."
Lynden Christian's offense began swiftly and with purpose, scoring on the Knights' stout defense in four of the Lyncs' first six possessions.
Vlas, who has helped fill in at the point guard position after the loss of three-year starter Makayla Lancaster to a knee injury, hit a corner 3-pointer to get the scoring barrage started. Courtney Hollander then collected an offensive rebound off a Sara Dougan miss, putting it back up for a contested layup while getting fouled in the process. LC had a 6-2 lead after Hollander hit the free throw.
The gap widened to 18-10 at the end of the first after Dougan got inside position on her defender in the post and was found by Kassady Aldrich for the layin. King's struggled from the floor in the first with the Lyncs' triangle-and-2 defense, anchored by the 6-foot-4 Dougan and 6-foot Karley De Jager.
Those struggles would follow them into the second.
Hollander began the second with a driving layup off the glass. Consecutive free throws by Kara Bajema and De Jager in the following two possessions and a 3-point play by Haley Hollander saw LC build a 27-13 lead with 4:23 to go in the second quarter.
King's, though, wasn't in the 1A title game for no reason.
The Knights' Savanna Hanson hit a layup and two pull-up jumpers to bring King's within seven, 27-20, but a late steal and basket by Vlas gave LC a 29-20 lead going into halftime.
King's managed to shoot just 7 of 21 from the field in the first half, with Hanson and Julia Bernson combining for 16 of the Knights' 20 points.
The Lyncs got seven from both Courtney Hollander and Vlas, with Bajema adding six and Dougan three.
Dougan, who gets most of her points in the paint, got going offensively early in the third when she hit a jumper off an inbound pass and then followed that up with a 3-pointer at the top of the key to give LC a 31-20 lead.
King's would tear into that lead as the quarter wore on, staging a 12-2 run to bring the Lyncs' lead down to 36-34. Bajema helped stop the bleeding, though, grabbing a late steal that led to a fastbreak layup and a 38-34 Lyncs lead going into the fourth quarter.
Vlas' mid-range jumper to start the fourth lifted LC to a 40-34 lead, but as had been the tone of the second half, King's managed to answer back and cut into the Lyncs' lead.
Karly Hibbard, who had seven points in the Knights' pivotal third-quarter run, broke free for a layin and a 3-pointer in consecutive possessions, bringing the Knights to down 44-40. Another jumper from Vlas in the lane and a 3-point play by Bajema with 2:01 remaining quickly answered back.
An empty possession by King's followed, further allowing LC to slip closer to its inevitable state title.
And if that didn't cement the championship, a dart from Courtney Hollander to De Jager near the rim for an open layin and a 51-40 lead with 1:03 left did.