It seemed like an innocent enough play to Nooksack Valley senior Casey Bauman Thursday night at Lynden Christian.
Teammate Ryan Veening’s cross-court pass during a Northwest Conference boys basketball game was tipped by the Lyncs’ George De Jong, creating a loose ball. Bauman calmly grabbed it and, finding himself behind the LC defense, put the ball on the floor and took three steps toward the hoop before leaping.
“It kind of felt like a normal two-handed dunk for me,” Bauman said Friday. “I’ve done it before.”
But his third-quarter dunk was anything but normal, as he ended up shattering the backboard at the west end of Lynden Christian’s gymnasium.
“Everyone was looking around, and I was like, ‘Did that really happen,’” Bauman said. “It took me about five seconds to realize that it really had. It was like, ‘Wow, OK.’ It’s something you see in movies, but it took a little bit to realize this is real. It was crazy.”
The game ended up being moved across the parking lot to the middle school for completion, as the Lyncs stayed perfect with an 85-61 victory. Bauman finished with a team-high 23 points.
But all anybody wanted to talk about Friday was the pile of shattered glass and the dangling rim he left his wake after scoring two of them. He received dozens of tweets about the feat, attention from teachers in class and said a number of people called him “Shaq,” as he joined the glass-breaking ranks of Darryl Dawkins, Jerome Lane and Shaquile O’Neal.
“Yeah, I’ve heard a little bit about it,” Bauman said. “It’s been fun. ... Everybody’s been pretty cool about it.”
The senior is accustomed to the attention, after having been the starting quarterback for the Pioneers football team the past three years and leading Nooksack to its first state playoff appearance in seven years last fall while earning first-team All-NWC 1A and Class 1A All-State honors. Before Christmas, he even signed his National Letter of Intent to play football at Montana State.
But perhaps the strangest aspect of the entire event is that Bauman is not the first to shatter that backboard at Lynden Christian. Lyncs athletic director Brenda Terpstra said the same thing happened in a boys practice session before a Jan. 6, 2017, girls game between LC and Nooksack Valley.
“It was about the same angle and it was about the same thing Casey did,” Terpstra said. “Same backboard, same result. ... I don’t think Casey did anything wrong. He didn’t jerk it or hang on it or anything. You look at it (on video) and it just broke.”
Terpsta, who noted that LC’s Cole Bajema had a dunk on the same rim earlier in the game, said the school plans to look into why it’s now broken twice in one year and make adjustments to help prevent it from happening in the future.
Like it did last year, Terpstra said, LC will utilize an old backboard it saved following some recent renovations to the gymnasium until a new backboard arrives. Last year’s broken backboard was replaced under warranty, and Terpstra said she assumed the one Bauman shattered will be as well.
Even so, she’s not sure whether she wants to host Nooksack Valley the first week of 2019.
“We just won’t allow any dunking the first week of January,” Terpstra joked.