In case the Lions forgot, Anacortes senior Ty Johnson offered a reminder of just how much a nuisance he is to the Lynden boys’ basketball team.
Johnson has burned the Lions before, most notably as a sophomore in the 2013 state semifinals, but after watching a non-conference loss to Lynden from the bench two weeks ago while nursing a knee injury, the senior made his impact felt this time.
The No. 2-ranked Lions deviated from their gameplan early, and the Seahawks made them pay. Johnson scored all 16 of Anacortes’ first-quarter points in a 3:25 span, putting Lynden in a deep hole it couldn’t ever climb out of.
“We were way too tentative early,” Lynden coach Brian Roper said. “We didn’t get the ball inside. We just hung around and shot 3s. That’s what they invited us to do, and we obliged and dug ourselves a hole.”
The Lions trailed by as many as 19 points before staging an impressive comeback.
Lynden had the chance to win with a 3 or send the game into overtime with 10 seconds to go, but a Jordan Wittenberg layup was blocked at the buzzer, as the Lions suffered a 52-50 Northwest Conference loss Tuesday, Jan. 6, at Anacortes High School, in a matchup of two of last year’s top three Class 2A teams.
Scooter Hastings scored a team-high 21 points with six rebounds, Jonathan Whetnall helped spark Lynden’s comeback with 10 of his 15 points in the second half and Sterling Somers added 10 points and hauled in a team-best seven boards.
The Lions (6-3, 1-1 NWC) cruised to a comfortable 64-45 win over Anacortes (9-2, 3-0 NWC) back on Dec. 22, but this time around Lynden couldn’t cool off the hot-shooting Seahawks, and on offense the Lions struggled getting into any type of flow.
Anacortes made six of its eight 3s in the first half, but it was Johnson’s late first-quarter scoring blitz that turned the tide in the Seahawks’ direction.
Lynden led 3-0 nearly four minutes in before Johnson went to work. The senior hit four 3s, scored on an And-1 and added a layup all in 3 minutes, 25 seconds. He buried his final 3 with five seconds to go, giving Anacortes a 16-5 edge heading into the second quarter.
“Ty Johnson came out in the first half, and he looked like that all-state player that he is,” Roper said. “There was a sequence there when he scored about 10 points by himself, and I thought he was a huge difference. He is their leader, and he played like it today.”
Johnson finished with a game-high 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Joe D’Amelio, who got hot in the second quarter, finished with 10 points.
Anacortes’ Jordan Neville pushed the Seahawks’ lead to 30-11 with 3:19 to go in the half, but Whetnall and Hastings helped trim the Lions’ halftime deficit to 32-18.
And in the second half, Lynden did a much better job refraining from launching 3s against Anacortes’ stingy 2-3 Zone.
“Our gameplan was to go inside early, and we didn’t execute that gameplan” Hastings said. “We were 1 for 14 from the 3 in the first half and that’s the exact opposite of what we wanted to do. But I thought we did a much better job in the second half, getting the ball inside.”
Lynden made up little ground in the third, trailing 46-34 heading into the fourth, but the Lions slowly chipped away at Anacortes’ lead.
A three-point play from Hastings cut the Seahawks’ advantage to 51-42 with 5:36 left, and an elbow 3-pointer from Somers narrowed the gap to 51-45 with 4:30 to go, prompting an Anacortes timeout.
Both team struggled to score down the stretch before Hastings hit a clutch 3 at the top of the arc with 26 seconds left, bringing the score to 52-50.
Following two missed free throws from Johnson, Lynden had one final chance. The Lions, with 10 seconds left, quickly moved the ball down the court. Wittenberg flashed open under the basket, but his layup attempt was partially blocked as time expired.
“I thought we came out flat to begin with,” Hastings said, “but our guys made a big comeback in the second half. We were down 19. I’m really proud of our guys from making a comeback. We were just one possession away.”
Anacortes 52, Lynden 50
Lynden: Jonathan Whetnall 15, Clark Hazlett 2, Sterling Somers 10, Andrew Kivlighn 0, Scooter Hastings 21, Jordan Wittenberg 0, Davis Bode 2. Totals: 19-46 7-13 50.
Anacortes: Jake Richards 0, Ty Johnson 23, Jordan Neville 8, Daniel McInerney 3, Trystan Lowry 6, Jacob South 1, Joe D’Ameoilo 10, David Rodriguez 0. Totals: 19-40 5-15 52.
3-point field goals — Lynden: 5 (Whetnall 3); Anacortes: 8 (Johnson 5). Rebounds — Lynden: 22 (Somers 7); Anacortes: 31 (Johnson 10). Assists — Lynden: 10 (Somers/Whetnall 3); Anacortes: 9 (Lowry 3). Fouls — Lynden: 15; Anacortes: 19. Turnovers — Lynden: 5; Anacortes: 10.