Scooter Hastings’ second-quarter coast-to-coast one-handed emphatic slam reinforced how imposing the Cal Poly Pomona-bound senior is, but the other nine Lions on Lynden’s roster found a way to give Squalicum headaches, too.
On a night when Squalicum needed a win to earn a Northwest Conference title and the Class 2A District Tournament’s No. 1 seed, Lynden not only earned a lopsided win, the No. 4-ranked Lions wrestled away the league championship.
Lynden, Squalicum, Anacortes and Sehome entered the final night of league play Tuesday, Feb. 10, with identical 9-2 conference records. The Lions needed to beat Squalicum, and have Sedro-Woolley upset Anacortes and Bellingham upset Sehome to earn a NWC title.
And during a conference season filled with parity, it’s no surprise more was offered during the final night of the regular season. Before Lynden departed Jake Maberry Gymnasium it only knew of Anacortes’ loss.
“I thought it was going to be my last game in The Jake, but it sounds like we are going to have another one this Friday,” said Hastings, who scored 16 points, all of which came in the first half. “Senior night, it was a big rush. I’m happy the way we came out.”
All 10 players on Lynden’s roster scored, as the Lions used a massive early run to put Squalicum away 73-53 Tuesday night.
Lynden (16-4, 10-2 NWC) will host Sedro-Woolley in the district tournament’s first round at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13. The Lions have beat the Cubs twice this season, 59-46 back on Dec. 19 and 76-64 in a league game Jan. 15.
Lynden wouldn’t be in the position if it weren’t for an inspired defensive performance and a well-balanced offensive attack against Squalicum.
Four Lions finished in double figures, including team leader Sterling Somers (18), Hastings (16), Jordan Wittenberg (11) and Andrew Kivlighn (11). Squalicum’s Damek Mitchell scored a game-high 26 with five 3s, and Josiah Westbrook added 16 for the Storm (14-6, 9-3 NWC), which finished as the league’s No. 2 seed and will host Cedarcrest at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13.
Lynden used a tremendous 22-2 scoring run spanning from the 3:30 mark in the first quarter to the 5:08 mark in the second quarter. Hastings scored 10 points during the spurt, including a powerful slam after grabbing a rebound and dribbling the length of the court.
“For us it starts on the defensive end, and that’s what really sparked that run,” Lions coach Brian Roper said. “We were able to get out in transition. I just think you get better energy, momentum, easy baskets. Those things start all start on the defensive end.”
Squalicum didn’t have much offensively outside of Mitchell and Westbrook, who combined for 42 of the Storm’s 53 points, and after Lynden’s big run, which put the Lions in front 28-7, the lead seemed insurmountable.
The Storm trimmed Lynden’s advantage to 51-40 with 7:00 left in the fourth quarter thanks to Mitchell’s and Westbrook’s sharpshooting, but Lynden extended its lead back out to 20 in large part to Wittenberg’s nine fourth-quarter points.
Lynden 73, Squalicum 53
Squalicum: Harper Moore 9, Noah Westerhoff 0, Josh Vail 2, Ben Wolters 0, Darious Powell 0, Damek Mitchell 26, Josiah Westbrook 16, Ben Tripp 0, Chris Paz 0, Raja Sidhau 0, Connor Sage 0. Totals: 19-47 8-14 53.
Lynden: Noah King 2, Jonathan Whetnall 5, Clark Hazlett 1, Sterling Somers 18, Connor Shine 2, Andrew Kivlighn 11, Scooter Hastings 16, Jordan Wittenberg 11, Caden Lair 2, Davis Bode 6. Totals: 29-54 7-15 73.
3-point field goals — Squalicum: 7 (Mitchell 5); Lynden: 7 (Hastings 3). Rebounds — Squalicum: 20 (Moore 5); Lynden: 35 (Somers 10). Assists — Squalicum: 4 (Mitchell 2); Lynden: 8 (Somers 3). Fouls — Squalicum: 14; Lynden: 9. Turnovers — Squalicum: 6; Lynden: 7.