Until Lynden’s Connor Shine preserved a 43-40 win over rival Lynden Christian with a last-second pass theft, the most inspiring moment of the game occurred before the opening tip.
In a Coaches vs. Cancer fundraising boys and girls doubleheader, everyone who had a family member or friend impacted by cancer was asked to stand for a moment of silence. Nearly the entire packed house at Jake Maberry Gym rose to its feet on Thursday night in an awe-inspiring moment.
The boys game started 45 minutes late after there were 43 fouls in Lynden Christian’s 56-53 girls win. The doubleheader in one of the most basketball crazed towns in the state saw the four teams all enter with top 10 state rankings and a combined 44-11 overall record.
The Class 2A Lions boys (10-4 overall, 7-1 Northwest Conference), ranked ninth, saw coach Brian Roper make the perfect move when he inserted Shine, a multisport senior reserve, in the defensive lineup as the fourth-ranked Class 1A Lyncs (11-4, 5-3) prepared to pass from half court from 1.6 seconds to go following a rebound by Grant Rubbert and his alert timeout under the basket with 2.7 seconds left.
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The Lyncs never got off a last shot, thanks to a swooping Shine, who perfectly anticipated the inbound pass.
Andrew Kivlighn, Lynden’s lone starting senior, made two free throws with 26 seconds left for the game’s final points. He finished with 14 points, including two first-quarter 3-pointers and six points in the final quarter.
“Kivlighn’s leadership and his defense and rebounding have been keys for us,” Roper said before the game started. The coach seemed psychic – Kivlighn had eight rebounds, seemingly all in key situations.
Christian Zamora scored nine of his points in the second half for Lynden, with two 3s. Zamora’s two free throws with 1:35 left put Lynden up 41-38.
Reserve guard Blake Silves hit a 3 at the first-half buzzer, pulling the Lions within 34-31 after LC had taken a 34-26 advantage with a 3-pointer by Cole Bajema, who finished with 14 points.
Elsner’s big 3
Lions sophomore point guard Kobe Elsner hit a vital third-quarter 3 for his only points on his only shot.
Rubbert finished with 14 points and eight rebounds for the young Lyncs. He, Bajema and Cristian Colwell combined for all of LC’s points except for a third-quarter steal and layup by freshman guard Andrew DeVries.
“For as young as we are, our team has responded well,” LC coach Roger DeBoer said before the game.