Makayla Lancaster will try to quickly forget the last shot she took in her high school career.
As the clock wound down on Lynden Christian girls’ basketball’s 59-49 win over Granger, Lancaster was at the free-throw line, her replacement waiting at the scorer’s table so the senior could walk off with a round of applause from the LC fan base that made the trek to the SunDome on Saturday, March 7.
She hit the first freebie with ease. The second lofted into the air and fell to the ground. Lancaster would walk off the court for the final time as a Lync, having just air-balled a free throw.
The competitive senior laughed it off after the game.
“I was just so thankful I made the first one,” Lancaster said, “I didn’t think about the second one.”
It was one of few mishaps on offense for Lynden Christian, which finally came together on the attacking end for the first time in Yakima.
Lancaster paced the offense, which operated at a much higher speed than what it’s been most of the season.
“I love running a fast pace. That’s my game, pushing the ball up the floor, looking for my teammates,” Lancaster said. “I had some turnovers that I wasn’t happy with but I’m happy how it turned out.”
The Lyncs took home a Class 1A State Tournament fourth-place trophy, the 32nd time and 11th straight year they’ve brought home hardware at the state tournament.
While Lancaster was hoping to play in a championship game her final season after sitting on the bench in last year’s state title game with three torn ligaments in her knee, she wasn’t about to sit out another Saturday trophy game, despite taking a hard blow to her elbow after falling to the ground in the second quarter.
For the rest of the contest, Lancaster gingerly held her arm at her side, going to her left much more than usual, but fighting through it.
“Her arm was pretty hurt but I said, ‘Hey, if you want to play I’m not going to sit you,’” LC coach Brady Bomber said. “She wanted to play so I was going to let her go. We were going to move her off the ball if we had to but I didn’t want her to have to miss this game.”
The Lyncs had already done plenty of damage offensively before Lancaster’s injury and it didn’t slow down afterward.
After two straight days of poor shooting, the Lyncs tallied nine points in the first 3:30 and never let up.
Kara Bajema had her best game of the season with 31 points, most of it coming at a time when Granger was trying to claw back into the game. She also added nine rebounds.
The Spartans pulled to within three points at the end of the third quarter before Bajema took over.
She picked up the first four points of the final period on her way to tallying 11 points in the first four minutes of the fourth.
“She did a great job being patient,” Bomber said. “We ran a lot of stuff for her and she made the right cut and the right read. ... Her patience allowed for us to get her shots and she hit some big ones.”
It was the second time the Lyncs topped the Spartans this season.
At the Cloud 9 Christmas Classic the Spartans gave the Lyncs one of their biggest challenges in a 41-37 LC victory.
This time around, Granger tried to produce the same pressure on LC, and for stretches appeared to do so. The Lyncs turned the ball over 15 times and with 4:31 left were only leading 45-41.
A Bajema 3-pointer and lay-in within 30 seconds of each other sealed the deal for the Lyncs.
“We handled their pressure way better than we did at our place,” Bomber said. “We’ve really come a long way since then. ... It was nice to see that kind of growth for us.”
The only thing the Lyncs couldn’t handle was Granger’s Angelica Oliveros, who hit five 3s on her way to 31 points. The Spartans’ Alexis Castro added eight points, all off free throws in the foul-heavy game.
LC’s other senior, 6-4 post Sara Dougan, put together a nice performance in her final game. The Biola University-commit scored six points, added 11 rebounds and picked up all seven of the Lyncs’ assists.
“They’re just such competitors,” Bomber said of his seniors, listing off the attributes he’s going to miss about them. “They play so hard. They’re such an example for us. They’re such tone-setters. They brought great leadership.”
Even without their point guard and star post, the Lyncs are still young and rearing to make a run next year. Junior Haley Hollander added nine points Saturday and will be back next year along with Riley Van Hulzen, Avery Dykstra and Emma Bocci, all who scored in the win.
“We’re really excited. We have a lot of youth on this team, a lot of inexperience and now they’re experienced,” Bomber said. “It was good to end it the right way and get a couple wins. We can hold our head high going home.”
Lynden Christian 59, Granger 49
Granger: Sierra Heitzman 2, Angelica Oliveros 31, Mayu Molina 0, Sophie Blodgett 4, Alexis Castro 8, Lindsey Carpenter 4, Paige Blodgett 0, Vanessa Vasquez 0. Totals: 11-47 22-31 49.
Lynden Christian: Emma Bocci 2, Makayla Lancaster 3, Haley Hollander 9, Kara Bajema 31, Sam Van Loo 0, Riley Van Hulzen 4, Avery Dykstra 4, Sara Dougan 6, Ellie Vander Veen 0, Adrianna Powell 0, Emmalee Bailey 0. Totals: 21-44 13-22 59.
3-point field goals — Granger: 5 (Angleica Oliveros 5); Lynden Christian: 4 (Haley Hollander 2, Kara Bajema 2). Rebounds — Granger: 31 (Linsey Carpenter 7); Lynden Christian: 40 (Sara Dougan 11). Assists — Granger: 1(Lindsey Carpenter 1); Lynden Christian: 7 (Sara Dougan 7). Fouls — Granger: 20 (Fouled out: Sierra Heitzman, Mayu Molina, Alexis Castro); Lynden Christian: 21. Turnovers — Granger: 12; Lynden Christian: 15.