Kaitlyn Mark wasn’t about to let Friday, March 6, be her last day as a Lynden girls’ basketball player.
The senior forward connected for a corner 3 on Lynden’s first possession on her way to a team-high 19 points, as the Lions topped Sammamish 43-24 in a Class 2A State Tournament consolation game at the SunDome.
The win guarantees the Lions a trophy Saturday, when they’ll play White River in an effort to snag fourth place.
“It means everything,” Mark said of Friday’s win. “If we lost today, it was the end of my season. It would have been awful.”
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Mark’s hot start to the game continued through the second quarter, as she connected on two more 3-balls on her way to a 13-point half.
It was a big confidence booster for the senior after a tough day in yesterday’s loss to W.F. West, she said.
It also allowed the Lions to take a 24-12 lead into the lockers.
“When you’re a senior and you have a dream of getting to the finals and you struggle, you kind of want to come out and redeem yourself,” Lynden coach Rob Adams said. “She came out today and looked to attack early and you could tell.”
While Mark was drilling 3s on one end, the Lions defense was holding off a Totems team that presented the Lions with difficulties because of their size.
Sammamish’s leading scorer Promise Taylor stands 6-foot-4 and is a force inside. Lynden’s tallest player is 5-11 but the Lions consistently had the primary defender of Taylor as a 5-foot-9 player or shorter.
The Lions tried to double Taylor as much as possible, but she still scored 14 of Sammamish’s 24 points while finishing 7 of 9 from the field.
The key for the Lions was fronting the big post to prevent her from getting touches.
“We joked at the beginning of the season that we have to get over the fact that we’re always going to be the shortest team every night,” Adams said. “She was a tough out. We tried to double down the best we could but even when we did that she hurt us.”
Still, it was one of Lynden’s best defensive efforts of the season, as the Lions held the Totems to just 22.4 percent shooting and held the Totems’ second leading scorer, Montana Hagstrom, to just five points on 2 of 16 shooting.
While the Lions eventually pulled to a big win, the Totems made a rally in the third quarter and early fourth quarter.
Lynden struggled in the third, only scoring two points, as the offense hit a rough patch.
“I think we just got too much in our heads,” Mark said. “It was like ‘Oh we’re winning by 13 points, we’re OK.’ But we needed to get out of our own heads and play basketball.”
The Totems pulled to within seven points midway through the fourth quarter, but a pair of back-to-back And-1s by Mark and Elisa Kooiman, who’s bucket was a spin move through the lane as she got it up while falling to the ground, put the Lions out of reach, as they closed the game on a 12-0 run.
“The teams that usually play on Saturday, no matter what trophy they’re playing for, can D up,” Adams said. “They can all D up and they can all rebound. That’s important because, in basketball, there’s going to be times when the ball doesn’t go in the hoop and today, for us, it happened to be the third quarter.”
The Lions rebounding was also a strong suit, as they put together a 49-32 rebounding advantage captained by Kooiman and Mariah Gonzalez, who each had nine boards.
Lynden plays at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the SunDome, in what will be Mandy Warner’s and Mark’s last game. And no matter the outcome, both seniors will be exiting Lynden with a trophy.
“It feels awesome. It’s sad that its my last game ever but it’s awesome that we get a trophy,” Mark said. “It’s my last game playing with the girls but it will be fun.”
Lynden 43, Sammamish 24
Lynden: Mandy Warner 2, Lauren Zweirs 2, Jasmyne Neria 7, Mariah Gonzalez 1, Anna Wielenga 0, Morgan Black 0, Sierra Smith 0, Olivia Bonsen 0, Heidi Lankhaar 0, Elisa Kooiman 12, Kaitlyn Mark 19, Emily Holt 0. Totals: 14-50 10-16 43.
Sammamish: Vivian Chi 0, Alleyah Bennett 1, Callie Jenckes 0, Montana Hagstrom 5, Marissa Mincy 0, Alliyah Shinaul 2, Kelsey Brooks 2, Marissa Therriault 0, Morgan Mincy 0, Colby Jensen 0, Promise Taylor 14, Briana Brooke 0. Totals: 11-49 1-5 24.
3-point field goals — Lynden: 5 (Kaitlyn Mark 4); Sammamish: 1 (Montana Hagstrom). Rebounds — Lynden: 49(Mariah Gonzalez, Elisa Kooiman 9); Sammamish: 32 (Promise Taylor 7). Assists — Lynden: 3 (Kooiman 2); Sammamish: 3 (Alliyah Shinaul, Kelsey Brooks, Morgan Mincy 1). Fouls — Lynden: 10; Sammamish: 17. Turnovers — Lynden: 18; Sammamish: 15.