In Sehome’s huddle, before the start of triple overtime, coach AJ LaBree delivered his Mariners an impactful message.
“I told the guys to keep swinging,” LaBree said. “The team that takes the last swing is probably going to be the team that comes out alive. No matter what, just keep fighting and keep playing.”
Sehome’s Tanner Clark and Leighton Kingma made crucial plays down the stretch, but it was sophomore guard Marcus Montag who landed the crippling blow to Lynden Christian in an epic Northwest Conference triple overtime thriller Friday, Jan. 9, at Lynden Christian.
Following a buzzer-beating tip-in by LC’s Cody Fransen to send the game into a second OT and a late Lyncs’ steal to send the game into a third overtime period, Montag backed a smooth layup with a confidence-filled 3-point dagger to open up triple OT, giving Sehome enough space to hang on to an 84-78 instant classic win.
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“Just my teammates kept telling me to go hard and play strong,” said Montag when asked what got into him at the start of the third overtime. “I just felt the confidence in myself.”
The win was Sehome’s fourth straight, as the Mariners (10-3, 4-0 NWC) maintained their perfect league record. Lynden Christian (8-4, 2-2 NWC) snapped its five-game win streak with the loss.
Montag scored eight of his 20 points in the three overtime periods, and Kingma bounced back from early foul trouble to pour in team-high 21 points and eight rebounds. Clark finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and a team-best six assists.
Fransen, who played tremendous before fouling out late, scored 22 points to go with his 14 rebounds. He was also a perfect 8 of 8 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. Zach Roetcisoendeer finished with a game-high 23 points, 11 of which came in overtime, and Jake Poag added 21.
Lynden Christian led by as many as seven points in the second quarter, but in the second half neither team could distance itself from the other. Each possession, especially down the stretch, was magnified.
“We know how good they are and how tough they are to stop.” LaBree said. “Every time you feel like you might have that edge, someone magically gets open on some play (Lynden Christian) Coach (Roger) DeBoer draws up. It’s impossible to lose them, and at the same time when we were behind our guys rose to the occasion as well.”
Both teams entered the fourth quarter tied at 41, and neither team led by more than two points in the final period.
Lynden Christian led 58-56 with 15.7 seconds on the clock, but Clark found Montag flashing in the paint as the seconds dwindled away. Montag received Clark’s pass and scored to tie the game with 4.8 seconds left.
Sehome raced out to a 64-60 lead in the first overtime, but a Poag 3 with 10 seconds left cut the lead to 64-63. After Kingma split a pair of free throws, Fransen miraculously tipped an errant shot in before the buzzer sounded, sending the game into a second OT.
A late Elijah Andrushenko free throw pulled Sehome even at 71 with 18 seconds left in OT No. 2, and after Clark’s steal, Sehome couldn’t get a game-winning shot off, setting up the third overtime.
Sehome 84, Lynden Christian 78 (3OT)
Sehome: Langston Engle 8, Logan Deboo 8, Elijah Andrushenko 8, Leif Anderson 12, Duncan James 0, Marcus Montag 20, Tanner Clark 10, Leighton Kingma 21.
Lynden Christian: Blake Mellema 4, Josiah Meppelink 0, Lucas Roetcisoender 1, Jake Van Berkum 5, Tanner Bouma 0, Jake Poag 21, Zach Roetcisoender 23, Nate Hielkema 0, Rubbert 0, Cody Fransen 22, Koy Sterk 0.
3-point field goals — Sehome: 5 (Anderson/Montag 2); Lynden Christian: 9 (Poag 5). Rebounds — Sehome: 39 (Kingma/Clark 8); Lynden Christian: 33 (Fransen 14). Assists — Sehome: 8 (Clark 6); Lynden Christian: 8 (Fransen 3). Fouls — Sehome: 16 (Anderson); Lynden Christian: 20 (Fransen, Mellema, Van Berkem). Turnovers — Sehome: 7; Lynden Christian: 11.