After shooting just 25 percent as a team in the first half, Lynden forward Clayton Whitman removed the lid from his team’s basket in the second half, scoring 14 of his game-high 26 points.
He was also the spark for Lynden’s monstrous third quarter in which the Lions outscored Bellingham 25-4. Eight minutes later, Lynden captured the third seed out of the Class 2A Northwest District Tournament and a state regional berth with a 62-46 win Saturday, sending Bellingham packing.
“We flipped the switch at halftime,” Lynden coach Brian Roper said. “We never take it for granted. Making it to state isn’t like going on vacation – you can’t just call and make a reservation.”
After having to win two loser-out games earlier in the week, Saturday’s game wasn’t a walk in the park for Lynden. After a back-and-forth 12-11 first quarter, Bellingham dropped 19 points on the Lions and led 30-20 at halftime. Bellingham had the momentum after going on a 13-0 run with about four minutes left in the half.
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Lynden’s Andrew Kivlighn, who finished with 20 points, drilled his only 3-pointer of the game to start the third quarter. Bellingham’s Jonny Larson hit a step-back jumper to answer, but then the Lions went on a 22-2 run thanks to eight points from Whitman on bouncy drives to the hoop.
In the fourth quarter, Bellingham attempted to go small with its lineup of Rits Voeut, Spencer Lee, Kobey Georgen, Drew McFall and Larson. McFall, the tallest of the five at 6-foot-2, struggled to hold off Lynden’s frontcourt of 6-4 James Marsh and 6-3 Whitman.
The Lions took advantage of second-chance opportunities, as out of their 36 rebounds, 15 were offensive. Andrew Kivlighn had 17 rebounds to lead the Lions.
“When your shooting guard gets 17 rebounds, it’s a sign that the kid doesn’t want his season to end,” Roper said.