High School Basketball

Unpredictably phenomenal: Cody Fransen’s toughness, confidence central to breakout season

Few could have predicted Cody Fransen would have the season he had.

Truthfully, no one, not even the Lynden Christian senior forward himself, envisioned he’d end up a first-team Class 1A All-State pick a year removed from averaging just 5.6 points per game.

But it’s fitting Fransen’s expectations weren’t as substantial as his season was, given the Lyncs were treated as a state-title-contending afterthought once college prospect Daulton Hommes was lost for the year with a torn ACL during summer ball.

And look what LC accomplished.

“I wasn’t really expecting that, but God is good and the coaches they really trusted in me,” Fransen said in a phone interview. “I couldn’t have done it without everyone around me, and not just the players on the court but the family around me and coaches.”

Hommes’ absence left a massive void the Lyncs collectively filled. Blake Mellema embraced being a defensive stopper, Jo Meppelink offered leadership and Zach Roetcisoender increased his scoring production. Fransen’s game was a winning cocktail of physicality, toughness, scoring and tenacious rebounding.

He finished his season averaging 15.9 points per game and 10.1 rebounds, playing the entire season with torn ligaments in both wrists he suffered from the rigors of annual summer commercial fishing trips to Alaska. Fransen guided LC on a tremendous postseason run that ended with a Class 1A State Tournament championship loss to King’s and a 18-9 overall record.

His accolades have been rolling in ever since.

After earning an All-Northwest Conference second-team selection, he was a Class 1A WIBCA All-State pick to go along with his Associated Press first-team All-State selection.

For a standout year, Fransen has been selected The Bellingham Herald’s All-Whatcom County Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year. Lyncs coach Roger De Boer, who led the team to a second-place trophy, has been selected Coach of the Year.

De Boer in his many years of coaching said, while not unprecedented, a player’s rise as quick as Fransen’s is certainly rare.

Fransen flashed his potential during his junior season, and early during his senior year the Lynden Christian coaches expressed to Fransen their desire for him to be the player they believed he could.

“Part of it was the physical maturity of his body, and he got much stronger, and that made a difference,” De Boer said in a phone interview. “The biggest step he took was mentally, his approach to the game and how much more confidence he had as a senior.”

Acquired self-belief, Fransen said, is what catapulted him to his myriad double-doubles. The 6-foot-4 senior’s impact was felt all season, but two weeks into the the year, he developed a confidence that stuck with him throughout the winter.

“I think it was after the first couple of games I started to build that confidence and started feeling it,” Fransen said. “I don’t know. For me, it was a thing I knew that I could do, but I didn’t trust in myself. After back-to-back (strong games) I kind of took off.”

De Boer pegged LC’s seventh game, a 56-39 win during a featured matchup against Cedar Park Christian at Kent’s ShoWare Center, as Fransen’s coming-of-age performance.

The senior finished with what was then a career-high 26 points and 10 rebounds for his third double-double in four games.

Fransen’s play seemingly ascended with every game, and he peaked during the Hardwood Classic, where he was a first-team all-tournament pick. He averaged 11.6 points, but his 13.3 rebounding average was most impressive. Fransen hauled in 18 boards to go with 18 points during LC’s state semifinal win over defending state champion Zillah.

Toughness became a hallmark for the Lyncs’ season. Several players battled injuries, but the trait emanated from Fransen the most.

His shin splits, torn wrist ligaments and subsequent post-practice icing of all limbs already has been documented, but even in dealing with immense pain, Fransen would be the last one to ask for a break.

His decision, he said, to keep playing boiled down to the desire he had to help his team win ballgames.

“To see how far our team went, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on that,” Fransen said. “I knew I could be a big contributor and didn’t want to miss out. Even if it made my wrists a little worse, it was completely worth it, and I wouldn’t have changed anything.”

Fransen is in the midst of playing high school soccer, a sport he’s always considered his favorite, and is slated to correct his wrists with surgery April 15.

Fransen’s on-court ability impressed Lynden Christian’s basketball family, but De Boer assured his personality is what his teammates will remember him for.

“He went about everything with such humility,” De Boer said. “Being a Player of the Year or all-state wasn’t like some monumental goal for him. He wanted to go out and have fun with his teammates. He was the same guy after scoring two points in a game or 22 points. ... I can assure you the teammates will remember him for the guy he was more than any stats.”