The towering figure, the speedy athlete, the thread-the-needle passer with a deadly mid-range jumper and the vocal leader who inspires her team.
For many high school squads, these roles are taken by several different players. For Lynden Christian’s girls’ basketball team, all of these qualities are encompassed by Sara Dougan.
At 6-foot-4, Dougan’s length is plenty intimidating, but her speed allows her to cover ground on defense few other bigs in Washington state prep basketball can rival.
“She’s one of our faster girls,” LC coach Brady Bomber said in a phone interview. “When people come in the paint, she’s able to get where she needs to get and uses her length really well.”
While defensively Dougan enables the Lyncs to play the tough, physical, high-pressure style they’ve become known around the league for, it’s also her skills on the offensive end that pave the way for Lynden Christian.
It’s not often an offense runs through a big, but the Lyncs operate it effectively. Dougan frequently slides to the high post, gets the ball and is able to find passing lanes and hit open teammates for easy shots, something she enjoys doing.
“I take a lot of pride in passing,” Dougan said in a phone interview. “It’s like that feeling I get when I get a really good pass down low. My teammates have done all the hard work for me, I just have to put in the basket.”
But Dougan has also added another element to her high-post game that makes her nearly impossible to defend when she’s on — a jumper. If nobody is open in the high post, Dougan will frequently knock down a 15-footer.
“I’m given the freedom to shoot that shot,” Dougan said. “That’s something I didn’t have before.”
While the freedom to shoot the jumper is just one of the many different tactics compared to last year’s state title run that took getting used to, the changes Bomber brought to the team has only made the team tighter, Dougan said.
“I think it was made a lot easier that it was new for everybody,” Dougan said. “We worked hard on things we needed to work on and we deserve to be where we are.”
As one of two seniors on the team, Dougan is also tasked with being a leader, something she does both by example and vocally.
“Sara’s an incredible leader for us. She’s the backbone of our team from a leadership standpoint,” Bomber said. “We had a lot of new experiences coming into the year — a new coach, new girls. She’s been very patient and a great teacher for the young girls.”
All of those skills and qualities have led to an excellent season for the senior. She’s averaging 10.3 points per game, including a 21-point effort to seal the conference title against Ferndale.
That game, while seemingly an outlier of Dougan’s season, was her chance to show everyone else what the Lyncs get to see at practice, Bomber said.
Dougan was pitted against Golden Eagles’ Linsey Honeycutt, one of the best post players in the state, and came out with a fantastic game offensively and defensively in the Lyncs’ 23-point win.
“It was a long time coming. She had been playing really well and having big games but it was her first chance to rise to the challenge,” Bomber said. “It was a big matchup, a high-profile game. She’s so consistent in not just scoring, but being a big impact. That was one night where the rest of the people could see what she does on a regular basis.”
The Lyncs face off against undefeated Montesano on Saturday, Feb. 28, at Tumwater High School.
In her last year for the Lyncs, Dougan is going to leave it all on the court.
“It gives me a lot of motivation to really get after it,” Dougan said of her time with LC nearing conclusion. “I think we’re prepared. ... I’m looking forward to it. I can’t wait.”
After ending her season with the Lyncs, Dougan’s hoops career won’t conclude, however. She committed to Biola University before the season began, something that relieved a lot of stress for Dougan.
“It’s been really good for me to get that out of the way and be able to focus on what’s happening right now, knowing that my future is secured,” Dougan said.
And that’s allowed Dougan to succeed on the court this season, as the Lyncs try to repeat as state champions.