With just seconds left in the third quarter, and Lynden Christian girls’ basketball trailing by one, Lyncs’ point guard Makayla Lancaster stole the inbound pass, dribbled toward the hoop and launched a running 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded.
The shot ricocheted off the backboard and fell through the net, giving the Lyncs a 45-43 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
It was just the spark Lynden Christian needed, as the Lyncs scored the first five points of the fourth quarter on their way to a 57-52 Northwest Conference win over Burlington-Edison on Tuesday, Jan. 13, at Burlington-Edison High School.
“I heard someone say, ‘Shoot it,’ so I shot it,” said Lancaster, who’s only weeks returned from a knee injury. “It felt good to make it. It’s kind of a weird shot, but it went in so that’s all that counts.”
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Lancaster finished with four points, five rebounds and two assists on the night.
Despite the crazy shot, it was Lyncs forward Kara Bajema’s play in the fourth quarter that pushed Lynden Christian to 5-0 in conference and 10-3 overall, while also handing Burlington-Edison (10-2, NWC 3-1) its first conference loss.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game. Burlington’s tough especially at home,” LC coach Brady Bomber said. “We knew we were going to have to execute and defend them well. They have some guards that can really attack off the bounce. We knew if we could contain their ball-handlers and limit open jump shots we’d have a chance. We were able to do that enough to get out of there with a win tonight.”
Bajema finished the fourth quarter with six of her 23 points on the night. She also had seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and three blocks throughout the game.
The lanky forward had a distinct size advantage against a much smaller Tigers’ squad, and used it to knock down jump shot after jump shot.
“I feel like in games past my shots haven’t been falling much. I was happy today that they were,” Bajema said. “It’s kind of either an on or off thing. Hopefully it’s going to become a consistent thing.”
The rest of the Lyncs knew she was on fire Tuesday night and everybody tried to find her. The best connection came in the third quarter when on two straight possessions, Bajema passed to post Sara Dougan and cut to the basket.
Dougan, who led the team in assists with four, returned the pass and Bajema had an easy layup.
“We kind of have this connection where we read each other,” Bajema said. “We both can see over people so that’s an advantage. We both, as bigs, try to be aggressive, be leaders and stay strong out there.”
Despite a strong offensive night from the Lyncs, who also got 10 points from Avery Dykstra, they trailed 29-25 at the half due to a less-than-stellar defensive effort. It was only the second game of the season in which the Lyncs allowed more than 50 points.
Burlington-Edison’s speedy point guard Edie Breckenridge tallied 10 points in the first half, as she was left open twice from long range and hit them both.
“We knew coming into the game that there was going to be fast girls and good shooters that shot the deep 3,” Bajema said. “I don’t think we executed our defense really well. ... I think we need to come out with our defense way stronger.”
Lynden Christian moves on to face Meridian on Thursday, Jan. 15, at home.
After a rough 1-3 stretch to end the holiday break, the Lyncs are now on a three-game win streak and there’s plenty of confidence to go around the Lyncs’ locker room.
“I think we’re feeling good,” Lancaster said. “The more we play, the better we get.”
And that’s a scary thought for the rest of the NWC.
Lynden Christian 57, Burlington-Edison 52
Lynden Christian: Makayla Lancaster 4, Haley Hollander 5, Shaye Brandsma 0, Sam Van Loo 0, Riley Van Hulzen 2, Avery Dykstra 10, Sara Dougan 9, Emmalee Bailey 4, Kara Bajema 23. Totals: 24-44 3-8 57.
Burlington-Edison: Tyra Lopez 8, Carly Watson 8, Edie Breckenridge 15, Allyson Ray 4, Katie Rodriguez 0, Olivia Capron 6, Delaney Watson 2, Rylee Gunderson 5, Emily Agen 6, Sam Alumbres 0. Totals: 19-45 9-1352.
3-point field goals — Lynden Christian: 6 (Bajema 3); Burlington-Edison: 4 (Breckenridge, Lopez 2). Rebounds — Lynden Christian: 20 (Bajema 7); Burlington-Edison: 25 (Capron 8). Assists — Lynden Christian: 16 (Dougan 4); Burlington-Edison: 6 (Capron 2). Fouls — Lynden Christian: 16; Burlington-Edison: 12. Turnovers — Lynden Christian: 12; Burlington-Edison: 13.