Brady Bomber, one of the most experienced high school and college athletes to come out of Whatcom County in recent years, said he was less nervous in his coaching debut than he was as a player.
“There’s definitely some nerves, but, thankfully, I’m less nervous as a coach,” he said before his new role on the court.
And why not? The 25-year-old coach has a raft of good young prospects to go with an outstanding senior in 6-foot-3 post Sara Dougan.
Bomber had no trouble pointing out the highlight of Lynden Christian’s 43-29 non-league win over Anacortes in the season opener for the defending Class 1A state champion Lyncs on Monday, Dec. 1.
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“Everybody contributed,” said Bomber, who won 12 varsity letters and played in eight state high school tournaments for Lynden before moving on to start every game in four college basketball seasons as point guard at St. Martin’s.
“That’s my thought, that everyone made positive contributions,” said Bomber, for whom Dougan will be his only senior until three-year point guard Makayla Lancaster returns from rehabbing a knee injury.
“But what a senior!” said ever-hustling sophomore guard Emmalee Bailey, who made her first two 3-point attempts as a starter and led the Lyncs with 10 points to go with five assists, five rebounds and two steals.
“You can’t have a better senior leader (in the paint and on defense) than Sara Dougan,” said Bailey, pointing out how effectively the unselfish Dougan makes everyone around her so much better. “I just love the way she helps us.”
With the Lyncs leading 34-26, 6-foot freshman Sam Van Loo scored on a fast break, then benefited from Dougan’s alert passing skills for a layup.
Forty seconds later, Dougan found Bailey for a basket to clinch the game at 40-27 with three minutes remaining.
Dougan finished with a game-high 10 rebounds, nine points, two steals and three assists.
Bailey, who has earned Bomber’s praise for “always working really hard,” was also excited over the three varsity freshmen.
Van Loo, 5-foot-10 Riley Van Hulzen and starting point guard Avery Dykstra combined for 13 points and seven rebounds to make just the difference Bomber needed, especially since all-state forward Kara Bajema sat out with an illness.
“All the freshmen did great,” said Bailey. “That’s so exciting to see. I’m really happy for them.”
Junior forward Emma Stump, another new starter, shot 3 for 4 from the field and finished with eight points, five rebounds and two steals.
Juniors Haley Hollander and Shaye Brandsma also contributed to the Lyncs’ defensive intensity, which held the Seahawks to single-digit scoring in every quarter.
In fact, the defensive intensity looked a lot like Bomber always applied in the days he led Lynden. The Lyncs limited Anacortes to 11-for-31 shooting and LC finished a respectable 16 for 38.
Bomber could only grin when asked about how he felt following the iconic coach Curt De Haan, who won eight state titles and a girls’ state record 772 games in 34 seasons at LC.
“Right now, I just want one win,” Bomber, who is working as an accountant, said before the game. “But I feel good because we have five great assistant coaches. I have so much help. And I stop in a couple of times a week and talk with Curt De Haan.”
Bomber said he’s hoping that Lancaster can return “by about Christmas.” That, indeed, would be a gift.
Bajema, who led the Lyncs to the state Class 1A volleyball title, said she’s enthusiastic about hoops.
“(Coach Bomber) makes it fun,” said Bajema, who said she has verbally committed to accept a volleyball scholarship offer from the University of Washington (she can’t sign until next year). I think it will be a good season.”
Ironically, Bomber’s first win came at the expense of much-respected Ken Welk, who has been head coach at Anacortes since the 1991-92 season and is now the dean of Northwest Conference girls’ coaches.
Junior forward Brooke Geffe, the only available returning starter, led Anacortes with 10 points. The Lyncs’ active man-to-man defense limited her to eight shots and she made four.
Bailey, a basketball lover from the word go, said she felt especially grateful to be part of history in her first two years at LC.
“I got in a little as part of coach De Haan’s last year and now I’m playing for coach Bomber,” she said, echoing the thoughts of several teammates on a historic night.
Lynden Christian 43, Anacortes 29
Anacortes: Brooke Geffe 10, Stella Gillman 8, Alexandra Aldridge 2, Baylee South 3, Monica Downs 6, Taylor Phillips 0, Clare Martin 0, Sally Vaux 0. Team totals: 11-31 5-14 29.
Lynden Christian: Sara Dougan 9, Emmalee Bailey 10, Emma Stump 8, Haley Hollander 4, Avery Dykstra 2, Riley Van Hulzen 5, Shaye Brandsma 0, Sam Van Loo 5. Team totals: 16-38 8-17 43.
3-ptg: Anacortes 0; LC 3 (Bailey 2, Hollander). Rebounds: Anacortes 18 (Downs 5); LC 35 (Dougan 10). Assists: Anacortes 6 (Phillips 3); LC 14 (Bailey 5, Dykstra 4). Total fouls: Anacortes 18 (Aldridge fouled out); LC 13.