Lynden Christian’s girls’ basketball team is the best team in the Northwest Conference.
The Lyncs erased any doubt of that on Tuesday, Feb. 3, at Lynden Christian High School, topping the NWC’s second-best, Ferndale, 52-29.
From the opening whistle, the Lyncs grabbed the Northwest Conference title by the horns and it all started on defense.
Going into the game, the Golden Eagles boasted one of the best offenses in the league, averaging 52.2 points per game in conference play.
That offense was no match for the Lyncs’ length on defense.
In the first half, the Lyncs full-court pressure forced 15 turnovers and the Golden Eagles went just 2 for 14 from the field, including 0 for 5 in the first quarter.
“I think it all started with our defense,” LC senior Sara Dougan said. “We came together, we played well defensively. That started our offense.”
The Lyncs held a 24-9 lead at halftime and the Golden Eagles, who have scored 50 points in every game but two this season, were stunned.
“We practice that a lot to break it. We just weren’t aggressive enough against that defense,” Ferndale coach Mike Ivy said. “They’re long and obviously a very good basketball team. I think we kind of got shell shocked.”
Meanwhile on the other end of the court, the Lyncs got bucket after bucket at the hands of Dougan, who finished with 21 points and nine rebounds. It was her highest point total of the season, in which she’s averaging 10.7 per game.
The 6-foot-4 Dougan had to go head to head with NWC’s top scorer Linsey Honeycutt, who stands 5-foot-10. Dougan won that matchup decisively on both ends of the floors.
“She’s (Honeycutt) so strong and physical. We just had to meet the challenge,” LC coach Brady Bomber said. “We wanted to come and stand toe to toe and not back down and make her work for everything she had. You’re not going to shut her down, we just had make it as hard as possible.”
Honeycutt picked up three fouls midway through the second quarter and her fourth foul came two minutes into the third, forcing her to the bench for an extended period of time.
Honeycutt finished the night with nine points and 11 rebounds — both team highs.
Already outsized by the Lyncs, Ferndale couldn’t handle the loss of its rebounding star, as 6-footers Kara Bajema and Dougan combined for 11 points in the third quarter to extend the Lyncs’ lead to 17. Bajema finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
“They’re just too big, those two posts,” Ivy said. “I tried to sub and keep a bigger girl in when they were on the court and then a smaller girl when they were out and there was just nothing we could do to stop them. They were just a very good basketball team tonight.”
With Honeycutt in foul trouble and second leading scorer Abby Reid still struggling with her shot, the Golden Eagles turned it over to their sophomores.
Darrien Camarillo, Savannah Shawler and Gabrielle Edison all performed well despite the onslaught of defensive pressure from the Lyncs. Camarillo led the trio with seven points, all of which came in the first half.
“They’ve been solid all year and they’re getting better each and every game,” Ivy said. “They’re our future after those six seniors leave. They’ve learned a lot from those six seniors and they’re playing extremely well.”
With the win, the Lyncs give their first-year coach a conference title and put a smile on his face.
“It’s great. I’m thankful,” Bomber said. “We have great players; they work really hard. I have a great coaching staff that helps me. I’m thankful I have great people around me. It makes it so much easier on me to just do my job.”
Now all eyes turn to the postseason for both teams, despite one game still left on each team’s slate.
“Yeah, we want to go out and win it but we’re really concentrating on getting ready for districts and getting our legs,” Ivy said.
LC will face Mount Baker on Thursday, Feb. 5 and Ferndale plays Burlington-Edison on Tuesday, Feb. 10.
Lynden Christian 52, Ferndale 29
Ferndale: Carly Bannerman 2, Shelby Slaughter 1, Abby Reid 3, Darrien Camarillo 7, Savanna Shawler 2, Dasia Washington 0, Gabrielle Edison 0, Kendyl Puhan 2, Linsey Honeycutt 9. Totals: 8-39 11-15 29.
Lynden Christian: Emma Bocci 0, Makayla Lancaster 3, Kara Bajema 13, Sam Van Loo 2, Riley Van Hulzen 5, Avery Dykstra 8, Sara Dougan 21, Emma Stump 0, Emmalee Bailey 0. Totals: 21-47 9-12 52.
3-point field goals — Ferndale: 0; Lynden Christian: 1 (Lancaster). Rebounds — Ferndale: 24 (Honeycutt 11); Lynden Christian: 36 (Bajema 12). Assists — Ferndale: 5 (Reid 3); Lynden Christian: 14 (Bajema, Van Loo 4). Fouls — Ferndale: 14; Lynden Christian: 14. Turnovers — Ferndale: 21; Lynden Christian: 15.