Betting on strong offense can drive a coach crazy, and that’s why Lions head man Brian Roper prefers to bank on defense.
“Offense is like the stock market,” Roper explained following Lynden’s 55-46 Class 2A State Tournament quarterfinal win over Wapato. “It goes up and down on different nights. Defense is like a sound investment where it can be there every night.”
When Lynden’s offensive stock crashed Thursday, March 3, at the Yakima SunDome, that trusty, reliable defense showed up to balance out the Lions’ game portfolio.
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Lynden scored 17 points in the first half on 5 of 23 shooting and finished 32 percent from the field.
“I was just hoping for a while that we made sure to get to double digits,” Roper joked.
But as off as the Lions’ offense was during the first two-and-a-half quarters, their defense hounded Wapato, holding the Wolves to their second lowest scoring total of the season.
Wapato entered the game averaging 75.4 points per game, but Lynden contested shots, outrebounded the Wolves 45-30 and held them to a 28.6 percent shooting clip.
Sterling Somers scored a team-high 18 points to go with a game-high 18 rebounds. Andrew Kivlighn scored 11 points, and Christian Zamora added 11, including a one-handed dunk on a breakaway in the game’s final seconds.
The win advances Lynden to the Class 2A State Tournament semifinals where it will face Clarkston at 7:15 p.m. Friday, March 4.
“I was so proud of how my teammates fought back tonight,” Somers said. “We could have easily given up. We had nothing going for us at all, and we just came back and had a great second half, I thought.”
Wapato keyed on Somers throughout the first half, and the Lions struggled finding other options. The Wolves raced out to a 13-4 lead and led the entire first two quarters.
It wasn’t until Somers buried a 3-pointer with 4:00 to play in the third quarter that Lynden took its first lead, 25-23.
Zamora then pushed the Lions advantage to 31-26 with a field goal from close range followed by a triple of his own, and Lynden took a 33-31 lead into the fourth.
Wapato battled back and took a 38-37 lead after two free throws from Rodrigo Campos, but Somers erased the advantage with a clutch 3 with 4:41 to play.
Noah King broke another tie with a 3, giving Lynden a 44-41 advantage with 3:40 to go, and Lynden’s stalwart defense came up big in the final moments, holding Wapato to five points during the game’s final 4:10.
“That saved our bacon tonight,” said Somers of his team’s defense. “I thought we played great defense, especially in the second half. I don’t think they had one easy shot the whole night except for a couple in the corner.”
Zamora emphatically capped the win with his one-handed slam.
Wapato’s Jordan Blodgett led the Wolves with 18 points on 6 of 19 shooting.
Lynden 55, Wapato 46
Lynden: Noah King 5, Sterling Somers 18, Connor Shine 0, Andrew Kivlighn 11, Jordan Wittenberg 3, Christian Zamora 11, Davis Bode 4, James Marsh 3.
Wapato: Caleb Cordova 0, Hunter Jacob 13, Rodrigo Campos 10, Javi Vela 0, Jordan Blodgett 18, Antwaan Acosta 5, Noah Patterson 0.