Going into the Class 1A State Girls’ Basketball Tournament, Lynden Christian’s defense was known as one of the best in the state.
On Friday, March 6, the Lyncs showed why.
Using its extreme length advantage, Lynden Christian held Cascade Christian to just five made field goals, as the Lyncs took home a 36-19 consolation round victory at the SunDome.
It was the Lyncs’ best defensive performance of the season.
“We did a really good job on the fullcourt, making them take 10-15 seconds to get the ball up the court,” LC coach Brady Bomber said. “If you can do that and only have to guard in the halfcourt for 10 seconds, it makes your job a lot easier. You can really crank it up.”
The Lyncs held the Cougars to just one first-half field goal — six of Cascade Christian’s first-half points came from the charity stripe. The Cougars shot just 1 of 15 from the field in the first half.
While the Lyncs’ offense was nothing to write home about, it was efficient enough to go on a 7-0 run to start the first and a 6-0 run to start the second to give the Lyncs an 11-point lead going into the lockerroom.
“We knew we didn’t want to be done. We wanted to give our seniors one more game,” LC guard Haley Hollander said. “We knew we had to come out as hard as we could and show people who we are, what LC basketball is about.”
Lynden Christian always strives to play with high character and leave it all on the court every time the Lyncs play, and Bomber said he thought his girls did an excellent job of that Saturday.
“It’s easy to, when you’re not able to achieve the goal you hoped, to sulk and feel sorry for yourself,” Bomber said. “That doesn’t set a great example. That’s not who we want to be.”
Offensively, the Lyncs weren’t as crisp as they’re accustomed to — they turned the ball over 13 times and only shot 32.7 percent.
With leading scorer Kara Bajema getting in early foul trouble, the Lyncs had to find other ways to find the bucket. Bajema only played 17 minutes and finished with seven points, five of which came in the first half.
The onus of scoring fell on Sara Dougan and Hollander in the first half, but neither found much success. Hollander went 2 for 8 and Dougan went 1 for 8 from the floor in the opening 16 minutes.
Hollander responded in the second half, tallying eight of her team-high 12 points, as the Lyncs held off the Cougars.
“It’s always good when you make points,” Hollander said. “If Kara steps out of the game, you’ve got to step up. She’s obviously our leading scorer. It was good to see my shots falling because we needed them.”
Because Bajema is such a focal point for LC on offense, both the Cascade Christian defense and the LC offense had to adjust with her on the bench.
Cascade Christian came in playing a box-and-1 zone to stop Bajema, and LC had two gameplans on offense. One with Bajema on the court and one with her off it.
“We always run a lot of stuff for Kara. She’s a talented scorer and has done a great job,” Bomber said. “She creates her own shot a lot so we have to work together when she’s not out there. ... It was nice to see some girls step up and be aggressive, because we didn’t have any other choice.”
With the win, the Lyncs have secured a trophy. They will battle Granger at 8 a.m. Saturday at the SunDome to determine if it will be a fourth- or sixth-place trophy.
“It’s big,” Hollander said. “You don’t want to go home empty-handed. Just playing for something is an awesome opportunity.”
It will also be the last time Makayla Lancaster and Dougan will play in an LC uniform.
“We talked about the people in our locker room won’t ever be together after this season, probably ever again in the same place,” Bomber said. “We wanted to appreciate the opportunity we had. There’s a lot of people that want to be playing in this game. We’re happy to play one more day.”
Lynden Christian 36, Cascade Christian 19
Lynden Christian: Emma Bocci 0, Makayla Lancaster 0, Haley Hollander 12, Kara Bajema 7, Sam Van Loo 5, Riley Van Hulzen 2, Avery Dykstra 0, Sara Dougan 5, Emmalee Bailey 3, Ellie Vander Veen 0, Adrianna Powell 2. Totals: 16-49 3-6 36.
Cascade Christian: Hailey Brandner 1, Holly Suggs 0, Michal Jo Irish 3, Allison Downs 0, Savannah Hunter 8, Tori Ramos 0, Tristen Coltom 7, Abby Oppenhuizen 0, Morgan Schepker 0, Kiriana Shelton 0, Bailey Smelser 0, Chandra Shelton 0. Totals: 5-31 7-10 19.
3-point field goals — Lynden Christian: 1 (Emmalee Bailey 1); Cascade Christian: 2 (Michal Jo Irish, Tristen Coltom 1). Rebounds — Lynden Christian: 36 (Van Loo 7); Cascade Christian: 27 (Savannah Hunter 5). Assists — Lynden Christian: 5 (Sara Dougan 2); Cascade Christian: 0. Fouls — Lynden Christian: 13; Cascade Christian: 7. Turnovers — Lynden Christian: 14; Cascade Christian: 20.