For each the past three years, either Lynden or Anacortes has played for the Class 2A state championship.
Needless to say, the two Northwest Conference foes have developed quite a rivalry during that run.
After a regular-season split between the two teams, you can add another chapter to that rivalry, following the Class 2A Northwest District Tournament championship game on Friday, Feb. 20.
“It’s become a good rivalry,” Lions coach Brian Roper said. “We know each other well, and tonight was what we expected.”
Expected, yes, but the result wasn’t quite what the Lions were hoping for.
David Martinez hit a circus scoop shot in the lane with 4.6 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime, and the Seahawks pulled away from there to end the Lions’ two-year run as district champions with a 52-45 defeat.
“That was a big shot for that kid to tie it,” Roper said. “It must be his best H-O-R-S-E shot, because I don’t know if that’s a shot you’d usually practice — scoop shot from the (6-3 junior). That was a biggie.”
Jonathan Whetnall, who led Lynden with 17 points, tried to answer with a fall-back jumper from the left side of the key as time expired, but he couldn’t connect, and the Seahawks owned the extra period, outscoring Lynden 8-1 to earn the right to cut down the nets at Mount Vernon High School.
Lynden played all of overtime and the final 3:09 of regulation without Sterling Somers and the entire extra period and the final 51.6 seconds of regulation without Scooter Hastings, as both fouled out. And it’s hard not to believe that one of the two of them might have gotten a hand on Martinez’s game-tying shot if they were on the court.
And without the duo, Lynden went 0 for 7 and had two of its six turnovers in the bonus four minutes.
“We were a little out-manned in OT,” Roper said.
With the loss, Lynden (18-5) receives the district’s No. 2 seed to next week’s regional round of the state tournament. The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association won’t release pairings for the regional round until Saturday, Feb. 21, and times and locations for the games will be announced Sunday, Feb. 22.
The overtime period was not the only time the Lions struggled to shoot the ball, as they dug themselves an early hole by hitting just one their first 18 shot attempts.
“Early in the game, offensively, we certainly didn’t have much rhythm,” Roper said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well.”
Lynden trailed 25-16 at the half, but stormed back to within one point, 29-28, by the end of the third quarter, thanks to some solid defense and 3s from Whetnall and Jordan Wittenburg.
Lynden took the lead early in the fourth, but Anacortes’ Ty Johnson hit back-to-back 3s on his way to a game-high 20 points to swing momentum back Anacortes’ way.
“We lost Johnson a few too many times,” Roper said. “He’s a good shooter. He’s got such a quick release. You can’t loose your concentration, and that’s what we did a couple of times. We were up three, and we went down three in like two possessions.”
Lynden clawed its way back, though, and took a 41-40 lead with 21/2 minutes to play on a bucket by Clark Hazlett. Rodriguez answered with a pair of free throws to give the lead back to the Seahawks, when Hastings fouled out, but Whetnall’s 3 appeared to be the answer for Lynden ... at least until Martinez’s miraculous game-tying shot.
“Jonathan definitely stepped up and gave us a spark with a couple of big 3s there,” Roper said. “I thought he really gave us some energy when we needed it.”
Anacortes 52, Lynden 45
Anacortes: Derek Vance 0, Jake Richards 0, Ty Johnson 20, Jordan Neville 0, Daniel McInerney 8, Trystan Lowry 3, Jacob South 0, Joe D’Ameilo 6, David Rodriguez 15. Totals: 18-47 8-12 52.
Lynden: Jonathan Whetnall 17, Clark Hazlett 2, Sterling Somers 4, Andrew Kivlighn 4, Scooter Hastings 9, Jordan Wittenberg 8, Davis Bode 0. Totals: 14-52 13-20 45.
3-point field goals — Anacortes: 7 (Johnson 5); Lynden: 4 (Whetnall 3). Rebounds — Anacortes: 36 (Johnson 8); Lynden: 36 (Hastings 10). Assists — Anacortes: 9 (McInerney 3); Lynden: 8 (Wittenberg 5). Fouls — Anacortes: 19; Lynden: 15 (Somers, Hastings fouled out). Turnovers — Anacortes: 8; Lynden: 6.