Offensive struggles have been the thorn in the side of Lynden Christian’s girls’ basketball team all season.
Most of the time, the Lyncs’ defense is stout enough to overcome that.
But in the Class 1A State Tournament quarterfinal, Lynden Christian’s inability to put the ball in the basket eliminated the Lyncs from defending their state title, as they fell to Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) 43-28 on Thursday, March 5, at the SunDome.
“We played well defensively for the most part,” LC coach Brady Bomber said. “Before the fouls at the end, we played pretty strong. If we hold them to that kind of point total, we expect to win.”
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The rough day for LC on the attacking end started from the opening whistle, as the Lyncs managed only 13 points in the first half, seven from the team’s leading scorer, Kara Bajema. She finished the game with 16 points.
In the third quarter, it seemed Lynden Christian had turned a corner, as Bajema put up seven more points and the Lyncs took a 24-19 lead into the final eight minutes.
“We played really bad in the first half and were only down two,” Bomber said. “We talked about controlling what we can control and not worry about what we can’t control, just come out and compete. We came out right away and we did a good job of that.”
But the Eagles responded in the fourth quarter, going on a 12-point run during the first five minutes, including back-to-back 3-pointers from Lindy Jacobson and Kelsey Jones.
The lead put Lakeside up by seven and all the Eagles had to do from there was hit free throws while Lynden Christian still couldn’t find the bucket.
“We’re bummed obviously, but it’s just a game. It doesn’t define our season,” Bajema said. “We still played a great season and it’s not over.”
The Lyncs will face Cascade Christian at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, March 6, at the SunDome in an effort to go to the fourth-sixth place game on Saturday.
On Thursday, it was just one of those days where everything was going wrong for the Lyncs.
They shot just 23.1 percent from the field, went 0 for 11 from 3 and 4 of 14 from the line. Several of the shots went in and out.
“I don’t really know what that was,” Bajema said. “It may have been the whole setting of this gym; it’s pretty big. We have some young players on the team that this is their first time in here and sometimes your shot just doesn’t fall.”
At the other end, the Lyncs seemed to have an answer for all but Jocelyn Cook-Cox, the Eagles’ undersized post player.
Cook-Cox, who stands just 5-foot-8, scored 20 points for Lakeside, as she found myriad ways to score against a very lengthy LC team that includes 6-foot-4 Sara Dougan.
“She might not be super tall, but she’s efficient and gets to her left hand and makes tough shots,” said Bomber, whose first time in the SunDome was far from ideal.
The game was very physical throughout and there were several questionable calls by the officials that drew shrugged shoulders and wanted explanations from the Lyncs’ players, which caused panic from the Lyncs at the offensive end.
In the fourth quarter, the Lyncs settled for several long-range and off-balanced shots as they tried to fend off the Eagles.
“We were a little rushed. We were a little off our spots, a little deeper than we needed to be,” Bomber said.
Still, Bomber was proud of his young team.
“We competed the whole way. That’s something that’s not easy to do,” Bomber said. “There’s a lot of things that didn’t go our way. That’s something out of our control. But our girls kept competing even to the last minute. That’s something we really hold high.”