High School Basketball

Fransen displays toughness during breakout year for Lynden Christian

Besides his visible white wrist tape, Lynden Christian senior forward Cody Fransen is reluctant to disclose the daily pain he deals with.

He doesn’t complain to coach Roger De Boer, and his game shows no signs of medical hindrance.

It isn’t until after practice that the whole Lynden Christian Lyncs basketball family gets a reminder of what their senior leader is dealing with.

“He’s been very diligent in icing his legs,” De Boer said in a phone interview. “It’s kind of funny at the end of practice, you see him with both legs in ice and two arms in ice buckets and you understand.”

Fransen has engineered an outstanding season for the Lyncs, recording 16.4 points per game and 10.3 rebounds. Thirteen times, De Boer said, the 6-foot-4 forward has recorded double-doubles.

He’s helped guide Lynden Christian (15-7) to the regional round of the Class 1A State Tournament where the Lyncs will play La Center (14-8) at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, at Tumwater High School for the right to compete in next week’s Hardwood Classic at Yakima’s SunDome.

Fransen’s numbers are impressive, but they’re even more eye-opening given the fact he’s been playing with torn ligaments in both wrists, cartilage separated from the bone on one plus nagging shin splints.

“The thing that stands out to me is he is such a tough kid,” De Boer said. “He is one of the tougher kids I have ever coached. He has the heart of a warrior.”

Part of what’s hardened Fransen and made him tough is also responsible for his wrist injuries, which he’s delaying until after the season to repair with surgery.

Fransen, nearly every summer since he’s been born, travels with his family to fish in Alaska. He began working as a commercial fisherman as he got older and now spends six grueling weeks during the summer working the waters of South Bristol Bay out of a small fishing town called Naknek.

The hours are long, rest is minimal and the work is demanding, but commercial fishing has toughened Fransen.

“It’s a lot of hard work, and people go up there and you love it or hate it,” Fransen said. “It’s something I’ve grown to love, but it’s a ton of work and it takes a toll on your body.”

So much so that Fransen would return to Lynden with wrist pain before the discomfort mostly subsided, but when he came back from his last trip this past summer, he noticed a sharper, more severe pain.

“I came back this summer, and I was thinking, ‘Oh, boy, this is getting a little bad,” Fransen said. “I’ve been dealing with it. Honestly, it was hurting me last basketball season, and I’ve been dealing with it so long I’ve learned how to (handle) it. You learn what you can and can’t do.”

Being tough and dealing with pain has been part of Fransen’s season, but it’s also been emblematic of the Lyncs’ entire senior class. Senior Daulton Hommes, who proved to be an up-and-comer his sophomore season but hasn’t played since because of two ACL injuries, still attends all practices and games. Blake Mellema has had hip surgery and still plays through pain, and De Boer said both Koy Sterk and Jake Van Berkum are blue-collar type farm kids.

What Lynden Christian’s seniors have battled through has trickled down to the rest of the team, giving the Lyncs a rugged exterior.

“When you have those type of people setting the tone, everyone else pulls along,” De Boer said. “It’s hard to say you have an owie when you see what Blake, Cody and DC (Hommes) are dealing with.”

Because of Hommes’ injury, Fransen has been forced to elevate his game, and he’s done so by displaying a strong inside-outside offensive game coupled with impressive rebounding performances night after night.

Confidence has been central to his success, De Boer said, and the LC coach pointed to an early season, non-league breakout game in which Fransen had 26 points and 10 rebounds against Cedar Park Christian. The big game gave the senior momentum boost.

Ever since Fransen has served as a catalyst on both ends.

“The big change for last year to this year is my mentality and confidence level,” Fransen said. “I wanted to put up the numbers I am now, but that comes from me trusting myself and the team believing in me. I have a great support group around me, and I’m just trying to do what is best for the team.”