If there was any doubt about the mental toughness of the young Lynden Christian girls basketball team, the defending Class 1A state champions convincingly erased it with a 44-39 win over Burlington-Edison on Monday.
Lynden Christian coach Brady Bomber couldn’t have been prouder. The Lyncs (11-1, 5-0) retained a share of the Northwest Conference lead with an impressive comeback in a matchup of two of the three teams that entered the week with unbeaten league records in the 14-team conference.
“Burlington stunned us in the first six minutes with their physicality,” Bomber said of the Lyncs’ 18-10 deficit after one quarter. “So we challenged each other to win every 50-50 ball. They’re as good as any team we’ve played. They play hard, they play fast and they have real talent.”
Bomber’s words may not bode well for the rest of the NWC’s Class 2A teams. Despite the loss, Burlington (6-4, 3-1) appears to be a contender for a top district seed.
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The Lyncs had only two rebounds in the first quarter. But in the second quarter, they outrebounded the Tigers 10-2 and outscored them 17-9 to gain a 27-27 halftime tie. Six Lyncs contributed to that second-quarter board domination, led by Sam Van Loo’s four.
Three-year starting guard Avery Dykstra, a junior, and freshman Riley Dykstra, also a quick guard, had eight points apiece for Lynden Christian, with Riley scoring a basket in every quarter in a sixth-man role. Van Loo finished with a game-high 13 points, and Isabela Hernandez scored nine.
“Grace Sterk had a couple of real big baskets (in the second and third quarters) and played real well off the bench,” Bomber said of the 5-foot-11 sophomore post. Sterk showed that her 10 points recently against previously unbeaten White River displayed her potential.
THE BIG basketS
Following physical drives by Van Loo and Hernandez, Burlington scoring leaders Brandy Smith and Allyson Ray, who combined for 20 points, hit 3-pointers to pull the Tigers within 37-35 with five minutes to play.
Emily Bailey, however, helped the Lyncs stay ahead. The team’s only senior made a hook shot of sorts in a crowd with 4:35 left. Van Loo then scored off a pass from Avery Dykstra, and Van Loo followed with a free throw for a 42-35 advantage.
Smith and Delaney Watson scared the Lyncs with baskets in the final two minutes, but Riley Dykstra’s driving basket with 23 seconds left provided the final points.
HOMMES TOUGH ON BOARDS
Torina Hommes, a 5-10 sophomore full of potential, had LC’s only two rebounds in the opening quarter, when the Tigers limited the Lyncs to 4-for-9 shooting. Hommes finished with five rebounds, providing the support Van Loo and Hernandez needed.