Opponents of Western Washington University’s women’s basketball team might want to look at film from Saturday’s Class 2A fourth-sixth place game for keys on how to defend future Viking Amanda Lance of White River.
Lance was the Hornets’ leading scorer entering the Hardwood Classic, but Lynden’s girls’ basketball team, led by junior Emily Holt, held Lance to just two points, both of which came on free throws late in the game.
Lynden ended up losing 53-45 to White River in an intense contest Saturday, March 7, at the SunDome, but it may have been one of the best defensive performances on a single player in the tournament. The loss gave Lynden a sixth-place trophy.
Holt is Lynden’s defensive star. She isn’t expected to score much — although she nailed three 3-pointers in Saturday’s game — and she guards the best player on the opposing team every game, but Lance is no ordinary opponent.
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“My coach always tells me my biggest weapon is on the defensive end and I know my role,” Holt said. “Whether it’s a girl that’s got a full ride to Western, compared to any other normal player, I know I have to do my job and knock them up.”
Holt plays a physical style, rarely even looking at the ball, just the opposing player. The goal is to not even allow the player to touch the ball. With Lance, who often brought the ball up the floor, Holt had to force her to pass and Holt did that with great success.
Lance only took three shots in the game, two from long-range.
“Me staying within her bubble, I think it’s a challenge for any player,” Holt said. “She’s a great player, she’s very quick and agile. ... I just always go into there and my goal is to not let them score any and today it happened.”
Holt’s style of play means she has to trust her teammates to lock down elsewhere on the court, which Lynden did its best Saturday.
Unfortunately for Lynden, White River has too many weapons.
Sophomore Kendall Bird dominated inside, tallying 22 points in the game and Maci Goethals scored 17 points, including five 3s.
“They (the Hornets) present a huge problem because of their size, but they also have 3-point shooters on the perimeter,” Lynden coach Rob Adams said. “We knew we weren’t going to be able to slow her (Bird) down from the inside — she had 22 — but those were a really hard 22. ... The difference maker was they hit some shots from the perimeter and we missed some shots from the perimeter.”
Both teams hit eight 3s and Lynden actually shot a higher percentage from beyond the arc, but it was the timeliness of the 3s that Adams was noting.
Lions senior Kaitlyn Mark, who finished with nine points, hit a corner 3 to start the fourth quarter, putting the Lions up 43-42, but it was the last lead Lynden would have.
Kristin Sturdivan knocked down a 3 moments later to retake the lead for the Hornets and Mark missed two open ones when the Lions trailed by six with two minutes left in the fourth.
“The difference was we made some shots in the first half and we missed those same shots in the second half,” Adams said. “(Mark) has been making those and they didn’t go today and that’s the way it goes.”
While White River’s sophomore was leading the Hornets, it was another talented sophomore on the other side of the ball who was guiding Lynden.
Elisa Kooiman had 22 points for the Lions, including nine in the third quarter, as Lynden held a narrow lead most of the period before a 5-0 run in the last 1:34 by White River put the Lions in a two-point deficit going into the final period.
Kooiman’s fourth quarter was much more frustrating as she continued to get harassed by the Hornets, who held her scoreless in the final period.
While the sophomore’s 22 points were quite spectacular, it was the way she carried herself that Adams enjoyed most.
“I thought she did a tremendous job of keeping her composure,” Adams said. “In the first two games of the state tournament, she was pretty frustrated and her body language wasn’t the best. So we challenged her and said, ‘If you’re going to lead, you have to lead by example,’ and I thought she rose to the occasion today.”
It’s a good sign for Lynden to have such a young group make it to trophy day for the second straight year, but there’s no doubt Adams and his squad are going to miss Mark and fellow senior Mandy Warner.
“We’re saying goodbye to two great seniors who are really ambassadors of what the student-athlete experience is supposed to be about,” Adams said. “I’m happy for them and we’re excited about the future too.”
White River 53, Lynden 45
White River: Kristin Sturdivan 9, Ashlea Mills 0, Maci Goethals 17, Amanda Lance 2, Kayla Howard 0, Lucy Rasmussen 0, Georgia Lavinder 0, Dallas Bushaw 0, Kendall Bird 22, Darian Gore 3, Sydney Andersen 0, Johanna DeJong 0. Totals: 19-53 7-14 53.
Lynden: Mandy Warner 2, Lauren Zwiers 0, Jasmyne Neria 1, Mariah Gonzalez 0, Olivia Bonsen 0, Elisa Kooiman 24, Kaitlyn Mark 9, Emily Holt 9. Totals: 16-38 5-9 45.
3-point field goals — White River: 8 (Maci Goethals 5); Lynden: 8 (Kaitlyn Mark, Emily Holt 3). Rebounds — White River: 31 (Kendall Bird 7); Lynden: 31 (Kaitlyn Mark, Jasmyne Neria 6). Assists — White River: 4 (Amanda Lance, Georgia Lavinder, Kendall Bird, Darian Gore 1); Lynden: 2 (Mandy Warner, Olivia Bonsen 1). Fouls — White River: 12; Lynden: 13. Turnovers — White River: 7; Lynden: 14.