Lynden Christian sophomore Sam Van Loo not only feels fortunate to start on an outstanding basketball team, but also to be able to take advantage of the unselfishness and skills of a Division I college volleyball recruit.
Junior Emmalee Bailey, meanwhile, is grateful for the confidence coach Brady Bomber shows in her off the bench, which is key since the Lyncs have played only teams in higher classifications.
Van Loo and Bailey played their best games, especially considering the caliber of the opponent, as LC (12-1, 5-0) earned a memorable 71-58 Northwest Conference win over Burlington-Edison (11-1, 3-1) before a large crowd on Tuesday, Jan. 12, in a match-up of the state’s top-ranked Class 1A and 2A girls’ teams.
Van Loo finished with 10 rebounds and 21 points (with 12 in the second half) while shooting 10 for 14. She received a huge lift from Kara Bajema’s game-high seven assists to go with 19 points and 10 rebounds in what was so far the highlight game of Bajema’s final season of hoops.
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Bailey acknowledged she played the best last quarter of her life, scoring all 8 of her points after the Tigers — who were led by league scoring leader Edie Breckenridge’s 26 points — took a 47-46 lead late in the third period on Breckenridge’s score off a steal.
Bailey’s 3-pointer on her first shot gave LC a 55-47 lead during an 18-7 run. LC freshman Isabela Hernandez, who shot 6 for 7 for a career-high 13 points, also made a vital 3-pointer for a 62-54 advantage with three minutes left.
THE TURNING POINT
After the ever-hustling Breckenridge’s steal for the 47-46 lead, Hernandez scored on a pass from defensive standout Haley Hollander, sophomore Riley Van Hulzen hit two free throws, Hernandez hit from the outside off Bajema’s fine pass, and Bailey hit her huge 3.
The Tigers rallied late to within 57-54 on one of Breckenridge’s four 3s, but Avery Dykstra hit a long 2-pointer, Hernandez made her key 3, Bajema fed Van Loo and Bailey scored on a pass from Shaye Brandsma for 66-54 with 1:22 remaining.
THE GAME WAS OVER WHEN …
… Bailey made 3 of 4 free throws at the 43-second and 36-second marks for a 69-58 bulge.
“Coach (Brady) Bomber gave me the green light to shoot,” Bailey said her fine fourth quarter. “Sam passed to me for that 3-pointer and it sure felt really good. Edie Breckenridge is such a force for Burlington, we really needed such a great game from Isabela. And Haley works harder than anyone on defense.”
THE UNSUNG HEROES
Hollander focused on team play because others were on fire, and she not only was stifling on defense but chipped in with seven rebounds and five assists for the 5-10 senior, helping the Lyncs to finish with 20 assists and a remarkable 29 for 47 field-goal accuracy under pressure. Van Hulzen contributed five rebounds and Dykstra, the point guard, shot 2 for 2 and played a solid floor game.
The Lyncs will visit Meridian on Thursday, Jan. 14, for LC’s first of three NWC tests against competitive Class 1A teams.
Lynden Christian 71, Burlington-Edison 58
Burlington-Edison: Edie Breckenridge 26, Tyra Lopez 10, Brandy Smith 11, Allyson Ray 7, Rylee Gundersen 4, Jazzlynn Woods 0, Katie Rodriguez 0, Annaleis Reyes-Guzman 0. Totals: 24-57 3-7 58.
Home Team: Kara Bajema 19, Sam Van Loo 21, Isabela Hernandez 13, Emmalee Bailey 8, Avery Dykstra 4, Riley Van Hulzen 4, Haley Hollander 2, Shaye Brandsma 0. Totals: 29-47 8-13 71.
3-point field goals — Burlington 7 (Breckenridge 4); LC 5 (Bajema 3). Rebounds — Burlington 23 (Ray 8); LC 30 (Van Loo, Bajema 10). Assists — Burlington 8 (Breckenridge 4); LC 20 (Bajema 7). Fouls — Burlington 14 (Breckenridge); LC 6.
NOTE: Isabella Hernandez’s role during the turning point of the game corrected on Jan. 13, 2016.