High School Basketball

Lynden beats Liberty in 2 OT thriller to stay alive in 2A district

For The Bellingham Herald


Senior captain Andrew Kivlighn more than tripled his scoring average with a career-high 36 points and sophomores James Marsh and Christian Zamora combined on the play of their careers to preserve Lynden’s shot at the Class 2A State Tournament.

Marsh rebounded a teammate’s missed 3-point attempt and whipped a sensational pass to Zamora far out front just before the first overtime buzzer. Zamora hit a 3 at the buzzer, sending the Lions to a second overtime.

Lynden (16-6) then outscored Liberty (16-7) by 10-7 to claim an exceptionally memorable 84-81 win in a loser-out thriller in the consolation bracket of the Class 2A Northwest District Tournament on Thursday at Mount Vernon High.

That means there will be one Whatcom County team in the state regionals, since the Lions will play Bellingham – an 80-78 winner over Archbishop Murphy in the late consolation game – in a loser-out third-place game Saturday at 6 p.m.

At stake will be the only available state spot from the consolation bracket.


“If Marsh doesn’t get that rebound, we lose,” said Kivlighn, who hit 9 of 11 field-goal attempts, with three 3s, and 15 of 17 free throws for his 36 points. “James always does the little things for us, and this was a huge thing.”

“Marsh made a heads-up play,” said an admiring Lynden coach Brian Roper. “It prolonged our season. It will be one of the team’s great memories for many years.”


The Lions used 10 players and seniors Jared House (seven points) and Connor Shine (three late free throws) and junior Trey Labounty (eight points) combined to score 18 off the bench.

Beginning at the start of the fourth quarter, Lynden showed nearly impossible poise under pressure, making 18 of 19 free throws. In all, the Lions sank 28 of 31.


Sophomore point guard Kobe Elsner blocked a potential game-tying 3-point shot by Liberty point guard Nick Chung in the final second. Elsner’s key play came six seconds after Kivlighn provided the game’s final two points with free throws. Chung gave the Lions fits all night with 19 points and eight steals.

“This was one of the more exciting games I’ve ever been involved in,” said Roper, who saw Zamora finish with 16 points in support of Kivlighn. Zamora had eight points, with two 3s, in the two overtimes.

“I guess I just didn’t want to end my Lynden career,” Kivlighn said with a grin when asked about his sensational contribution. “Our entire team was just outstanding.”

In the second overtime, Kivlighn went 4 for 4 from the line and grabbed two vital rebounds. Shine’s free throw put the Lions up 75-74 in the opening seconds of the second overtime.

Lynden will have added motivation Saturday. In the second round of the tournament, Bellingham pulled off a 62-58 upset over the Lions.

Related stories from Bellingham Herald