Scoring 20 points and making four 3-pointers in his previous game did not distract Lynden basketball newcomer Jonathan Whetnall from focusing on his primary roles both offensively and defensively.
In a non-league match-up of unbeaten Class 2A state trophy contenders, Lynden’s 64-45 win over Anacortes on Monday, Dec. 22, turned into a showcase for new point guard Whetnall’s versatility and unselfishness.
Returning guard Jordan Neville, one of the Northwest Conference’s most explosive players, went 4 for 5 from the field in the first half and scored 12 points, keeping Anacortes (6-1 overall, 2-0 NWC) very much in the running with a 32-27 halftime deficit.
Neville, however, was limited to one point and one shot from the field in the third quarter as Whetnall clamped down when assigned to Neville and the Lions (4-0, 1-0) outscored the Seahawks 23-5.
Meanwhile, Whetnall collected three of his game-high four assists in the third-period frenzy, helping the Lions to shoot 10 for 13 as they displayed fearsome potential.
“Jonathan really did a nice job on Neville,” said Lynden coach Brian Roper, showing how much he respects the quick Anacortes senior.
Whetnall, a senior, expected to play a shooting guard spot until returning point man Trey Shagren sustained a serious football injury, but Whetnall says he’s fine with playing the point.
“It makes my job a lot easier,” he said of the pleasures of working with 6-foot-7 Scooter Hastings and 6-foot-5 Sterling Somers, returning standouts from last year’s state runner-up. “I think all of us are unselfish. I just want to do what the team needs. I just felt bad for Trey (not being able to play basketball).”
Somers and Hastings combined for 32 points as Somers shot 8 for 14 to score 19, while Hastings went 5 for 8 including a pair of thundering dunks.
“Jonathan is learning what we want and he’s trying hard to learn,” Roper said of Whetnall, who spent his first two years of high school at Squalicum. “He has a good motor and he does some things you just can’t coach.”
Roper was especially happy to see how well his Lions, who finished with 12 turnovers, handled the fearsome press of the Seahawks, who finished third at state last year and have four of five starters back as seniors.
Fourth-year regular Ty Johnson was out with a knee injury, although Seahawks coach Brett Senff said he expected Johnson to be back for the league match-up Jan. 6, at Anacortes.
“We’ve developed quite a rivalry,” Roper said while expressing respect for the Seahawks, who cut a 57-32 early fourth quarter deficit to 58-43 with an 11-1 run, forcing Roper to bring back his starters.
The Lions will play four games in the prestigious Orange (County) Holiday Classic Dec. 26-30, at Hope University in Southern California.
“Tonight’s game was our third in a row without a practice, and now we’ll have four in a row without a practice after the kids have some time off for Christmas,” Roper said with a smile. “Seven games in a row without practice, that’s a high school kid’s dream.”
Lynden also received a big lift from sophomore guard Andrew Kivlighn, who had a season-high 10 points while shooting 4 for 5 with a pair of 3s. Senior Clark Hazlett scored eight points, with seven in the third-quarter blitz, and junior Jordan Wittenberg had eight points with a pair of second-half 3s along with nine rebounds, matching Somers for game-high.
Lynden, in fact, was overwhelming on the boards, with a 35-16 advantage, including 21-7 in the second half.
“At halftime (Roper) told us we just had to bring energy,” said Whetnall, who did just that, especially on the defensive end.
Somers was huge early, making four of his first five shots to score nine of Lynden’s first 12 points. Somers scored on a steal and drive for a 31-25 lead late in the first half.
Neville finished with 19 points for Anacortes, which has two promising freshmen, 3-point shooter Trystan Lowry and 6-5 Jacob South.
Lynden, ranked second in Class 2A state, came off wins of 59-46 over contender Sedro-Woolley and 52-47 over top-ranked Class 1A power King’s.
LYNDEN 64, ANACORTES 45