If Lynden Christian is to have a decent shot at upending Kings for the Class 1A Northwest District 1 boys’ basketball title, the Lyncs provided a pretty good hint how in the semifinals.
Cody Fransen has become more than a scorer, Jake Poag has emerged as more than a shooter, and Lucas Roetcisoender could not do much more as a defender.
At least, that’s the way it seemed as LC came in with a particular third-quarter fire in the Lyncs’ 76-38 win over Mount Baker on Tuesday, Feb. 10, at LC.
The seventh-ranked Lyncs (14-7) clinched a spot at bi-districts next week and will play Saturday at Mount Vernon High School against second-ranked Kings (19-2), a 63-30 winner of Meridian in the other semifinal.
Mount Baker (7-16) will play a loser-out home game Thursday against South Whidbey (9-12).
LC coach Roger DeBoer agreed he was proud of one of the Lyncs’ best team efforts.
“King’s is a heavy favorite to win state,” said DeBoer, acknowledging his team likely will have to play its best game and then some to beat the Knights.
But since the coach devised a way to limit Colton Ranson’s 3-point shot attempts for Mount Baker, who’s to say he won’t come up with something for King’s?
“Ranson has just been on fire. He made 15 3-pointers in his last two games — seven against us last Friday (in LC’s 69-63 win over Baker) and eight Monday (in Baker’s 57-49 win over Sultan),” DeBoer said. “So we just said we have got to force Mount Baker to do something else.”
DeBoer found a way to do that by telling Roetcisoender, a quick 6-foot-1 junior, and everyone else anywhere near the senior sharpshooter simply to “never leave Ranson alone.”
Ranson had only one good 3-point opportunity — and made the shot — in the first half. He did not get another shot at a 3 ball as the Lyncs extended a 37-25 halftime lead to a 62-32 bulge after three quarters.
“Lucas did a great job,” said the lanky 6-foot-4 scorer/defender Fransen, who made 10 of 13 field-goal attempts and delivered the first four baskets of the second half, including two on steals. He finished with 25 points, three shy of his season high, in his most efficient game.
“Lucas was just outstanding,” said DeBoer. “Defense, leadership — I’m very proud of Lucas.”
Poag, a fast-improving 6-foot-2 junior, had 13 first-half points and finished with 18 along with six rebounds, six assists and three steals. He helped spark the Lyncs’ 25-7 third-quarter dominance.
Poag was primarily a long-range zone-buster as a sophomore, but DeBoer said he has been forced of necessity to diversify his game.
“Jake has had to do things that were not his role early in the season,” DeBoer said. “He’s realizing a whole other world has opened for him in the last four or five games.”
Poag praised Fransen’s dominance.
“Cody’s our spark,” Poag said. “He gets us hyped up and gets us going. I was really impressed by how he played tonight.”
And rightly so. At the point Fransen’s four consecutive hoops gave the Lyncs a 45-25 bulge less than two minutes into the second, he had 23 points.
Senior guard Jake Van Berkum had seven of his eight points in the first three quarters for LC. Zach Roetcisoender finished with 10 points, with seven in the Lyncs’ overwhelming third-quarter effort. Blake Mellema worked hard for four first-quarter rebounds, helping set the defensive tone, and 6-foot-4 senior reserve Koy Sterk played exceptionally hard in the second half and finished with five points, two steals and two rebounds. Another reserve, junior guard Tanner Bouma, hit two second-half 3s.
Baker sophomore Grant Balvanz, a 6-foot guard, made four of six first-half shots, with a pair of 3-pointers, and finished as the Mountaineers’ high scorer with 10 points.
The Lyncs, however, limited the Mounties to 13 second-half points and Baker finished with 12-for-41 shooting from the field.
“That was what made me proudest, our second-half defense,” said DeBoer.
Baker’s 6-foot-8 junior post, Timothy Soares, was whistled for his second foul with 1:48 left in the first quarter and spent much of the rest of the half on the bench. He had four points and four rebounds during Baker’s seven-point third-quarter miseries and finished with seven points.
Lynden Christian 76, Mount Baker 38
Mount Baker: Grant Balvanz 10, Timothy Soares 7, Colton Ranson 5, Keenan Gray 4, T.J. Bass 7, Carson Engholm 0, Jed Schleimer 0, Thomas Barbo 2, Ethan Gates 1, Mason Bass 2, Cory Bergh 0, Sam Stargell 0. Totals: 12-41 11-18 38.
Lynden Christian: Cody Fransen 25, Jake Poag 18, Jake Van Berkum 8, Lucas Roetcisoender 2, Blake Mellema 2, Zach Roetcisoender 10, Koy Sterk 6, Tanner Bouma 6, Nate Hielkema 0, Andrew Vander Mey 0. Totals: 24-53 21-26 76.
3-point goals: Mount Baker 3 (Balvanz 2); LC 7 (Poeg, Bouma 2). Rebounds: Mount Baker 22 (T. Bass, Soares 5); LC 29 (Mellema 8). Assists: Mount Baker 6 (Gray 3); LC 14 (Poag 6). Total fouls: Mount Baker 20, LC 20.