Kaitlyn Mark says she’s become accustomed to situations involving frustration but not fear.
“We’ve been in that situation a lot recently, so we’re kind of used to it,” the Lynden senior said.
That helps explains why Archbishop Murphy’s 11-0 run in the final three minutes, preceded by 23 Lynden turnovers in a game without rhythm or flow, did not seem to rattle the defending Class 2A District 1 champion Lions.
As a result, Lynden’s crew of willing, gritty defenders held on for a 42-40 win in a ragged district semifinal on Tuesday, Feb. 17, at Mount Vernon High School. The Lions clinched a spot in the state girls’ basketball regional round the weekend of Feb. 27-28.
The Lions (15-7) will play for the district title on Saturday night, Feb. 21, on the same court against Burlington-Edison, who topped Shorecrest on Tuesday night.
Junior forward Elisa Kooiman and Mark, who averaged about 30 points combined in the regular season, together produced 32 points against Archbishop Murphy (16-5), including one free throw apiece in the final minute for the game’s final two points.
Mark, though, agreed that enthusiastic young defensive standouts Emily Holt, Lauren Zwiers and Mariah Gonzalez came through against Archbishop’s 5-foot-11 junior star, Megan Wall.
Wall, who came in averaging nearly 20 points, can and does shoot from just about anywhere. But even though she scored seven of those final 11 points, she was limited to 17 field-goal attempts and made eight to finish with 24 points.
“Those three (Lynden defenders) really stepped up. So far, she (Wall) is the best we’ve played,” said Mark, for whom this win was especially meaningful because she is is headed for the University of Arizona and doesn’t plan to play in college. “She makes a lot of crazy shots.”
None of the other Archbishop players — the Wildcats have no seniors — scored more than six points, so Lynden coach Rob Adams’ defensive strategy paid off, as it so often has over the years.
“We knew Wall was going to get her 19 points,” he said. “Wall might be the best pure scorer in the tournament. We knew were weren’t going to stop her, but we had to try to contain her. She didn’t get any freebies.”
Indeed, the Lions contained Wall without a shot attempt in the final 17.8 seconds after Mark’s free throw provided the game’s final point. The Wildcats were forced to pass off and try a shot from the corner — the referees apparently were going to call it a 2, the coaches said — but the frightening attempt by Kacey Moore banged off the rim at the buzzer.
“From where I was standing, that shot looked dead on,” said a relieved Adams.
It was the fifth consecutive win for the Lions, including their overtime victory over Blaine to open district play. In a span of three late-season games against strong teams before the five-game streak started, Lynden succumbed to Lynden Christian 44-40, lost to Burlington-Edison 47-46 in overtime and fell to Ferndale 47-40.
“Now we’re prepared for those (tight) type of games,” Mark said. “We know how to be calm. I think we’ve played our best (competitive) games lately.”
Lynden was held to 38 shots from the floor, but made 15, led by Kooiman’s 18 points via 6 for 14 shooting along with 12 rebounds. Mark shot 5 for 10 with a pair of 3-pointers for 14 points and contributed three steals and six rebounds. Archbishop went 16 for 48, with 6 for 17 in the frantic fourth quarter.
The Lions made an 8-0 run to take a 34-22 lead late in the third quarter, scoring on two free throws by Jasmyne Neria, a Neria drive off a Mark steal, and two runners by Kooiman. Lynden then opened the fourth quarter with a layup by senior point guard Mandy Warner off a Kooiman steal, a pretty layup by Gonzalez for her first basket of the frenzied game and Kooiman’s final basket for a 40-29 advantage with 3:23 left.
In the next two minutes, Wall’s seven points, Sam Hayward’s 14-footer off a Wall steal, and Alyson Matriotti’s steal and jumper produced a 40-all tie with 1:25 left.
But that was it for the Wildcats, who fouled Kooiman with 33 seconds left and Mark with 17.8 to go, resulting in one free throw from each.
“Both teams made a tremendous effort,” said Adams. “We played just well enough (late) to make our breaks. There was no flow or rhythm at all in this game, but there was great effort.”
LYNDEN 42, ARCHBISHOP MURPHY 40
Lynden: Elisa Kooiman 18, Kaitlyn Mark 14, Jasmyne Neria 4, Mandy Warner 4, Emily Holt 0, Lauren Zweirs 0, Mariah Gonzalez 2, Olivia Bonsen 0. Totals 15-38 9-12 42.
Archbishop Murphy: Megan Wall 24, Alyson Matriotti 4, Addison Schmidt 2, Kacey Moore 4, Madeline Maher 0, Sam Hayward 6, Natalie Hayward 0, Isabella Lucas 0, Olivia Riojas 0. Totals 16-48 6-9 40.
3-point goals: Lynden 3 (Mark 2); Archbishop 2 (Wall 2). Rebounds: Lynden: 34 (Kooiman 12); Archbishop 26 (Wall 7). Assists: Lynden 9 (Warner, Mark 3); Archbishop 6 (Wall 2). Fouls: Lynden 13; Archbishop 13.