No lead was safe for the No. 3-ranked Lions, even when they led No. 4 Squalicum by 17 at halftime.
Twice the Storm defied odds, rallying back from steep deficits to give Lynden everything it could handle during a Northwest Conference finale that awarded the winner a share of the league title.
Sterling Somers scored a game-high 30 points and Jordan Wittenberg, Noah King and Andrew Kivlighn scored during key moments in final minutes to help the Lions earn a 73-70 win Tuesday, Feb. 9, in what was a postseason-like atmosphere at Squalicum High School.
22 Combined 3s made by Lynden and Squalicum
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The win netted Lynden (19-1, 11-1 NWC) the 2A District Tournament’s top seed and a share of the NWC title with Lynden Christian. The loss gives Squalicum (17-3, 10-2) the district tournament’s No. 3 seed.
“I was pleased with how our guys came out with a lot of confidence,” Lynden coach Brian Roper said. “Our guys embraced the environemnt. They weren’t afraid of it. Give Squalicum credit, down 17 at the half. We knew we hadn’t had their best shot.”
The Storm, which was led by Josiah Westbrook’s 18 points, struggled during the first half, but a 3-point barrage from Darious Powell midway through the third quarter dissolved Lynden’s large lead.
Powell hit four 3s, mostly all coming several feet beyond the arc, in a 4-minute, 27-second span to trim the Lions’ advantage to 45-39.
I’ve never been in a game where we shot 60 percent from 3, 70 percent from 2 and 38 percent from the foul line. It was like a free-throw virus attacked our team one player at a time.
Lynden coach Brian Roper on team’s shooting night
Squalicum rallied again in the fourth, cutting Lynden’s lead to 54-53 with 5:02 to play, but the Lions went on 9-0 run to seemingly seal the contest.
A second flurry of 3s reduced Lynden’s lead to 68-67 with 42 seconds, but Squalicum couldn’t convert that one bucket to give it a lead. Although Lynden missed plenty of free throws — Roper said his team shot 38 percent — it made enough to earn the win.
“We knew it was going to be hectic going in,” Somers said. “They have a great atmospthere here. ... There is still a lot to work on, but that was a big win for us, especially here.”
Game ball goes to
Somers scored Lynden’s first 10 points and was a steadying influence when Squalicum made its impressive second-half comeback. Wittenberg hit a couple of big shots down the stretch and assists came from Somers, who finished with 30.
Squalicum wouldn’t have made the contest nearly as interesting if it weren’t for two Powell, Simran Parmar and their timely 3-point shooting. Powell elicited high praise from Roper for his four third-quarter 3s, and Parmar, who finished with 14 points, hit three fourth-quarter 3s to cut Lynden’s lead for a second time.
Lynden earned its third Northwest Conference in four years with its win on Tuesday, and it should come as no surpise the three coaches who have their teams one, two, three in the final NWC standings are all entering the Hall of Fame this year with Roper, Storm coach Dave Dickson and Lynden Christian coach Roger DeBoer.
Lynden 73, Squalicum 70
Lynden: Noah King 7, Clayton Whitman 0, Sterling Somers 30, Connor Shine 2, Andrew Kivlighn 12, Jordan Wittenberg 13, Christian Zamora 1, Davis Bode 4, James Marsh 2. Total: 73.
Squalicum: Josiah Westbrook 18, Noah Westerhoff 7, Simran Parmar 14, Josh Vail 0, Ben Wolters 0, Darious Powell 12, Damek Mitchell 17, Creighton Kaui 0, Giovanni Melley 2.Total: 70.