Lynden coach Rob Adams summed up a grinder of a girls’ game the best: “We didn’t go away from the pressure. We truly turned in a total team effort.”
Jasmyne Neria made a tie-breaking 3-pointer with two minutes left and Elisa Kooiman followed with four pressure-packed free throws in Lynden’s 52-45 win over Shorecrest in the semifinals of the Class 2A Northwest Tournament on Monday, Feb. 15.
Talk about survive and advance, which we always do, this was truly it in a nutshell
Lynden coach Rob Adams
The Lions (20-2) clinched a state regional spot and a chance to win their third consecutive district title.
Shorecrest’s three stars, senior point guard Wurrie Njadoe, senior post Uju Chibuogwu and sophomore scoring leader Julia Strand, had 36 of the Scots’ 43 points by the time they had all fouled out in the final quarter with the score tied at 43-43 and 2:37 left.
12 Points by Lynden’s Lauren Zwiers, with three 3-pointers, after coming in with a 4.3 average in the program.
But Lynden still had to produce in a game with 24 second-half fouls, and the Lions did just that. Lauren Zwiers, who nearly tripled her scoring average with 12 points, hit a crucial free throw shortly after Neria’s huge 3. Kooiman, whose 22 points included 11 in the fourth quarter, capped 7 for 7 free throw shooting in the last 4:34 with a pair with both 18 seconds left and 11.8 seconds to go.
Njadoe -- so athletic she has been recruited for track by Kansas State -- fouled out 22 seconds into the final period, her first five-foul game this season. Chibuogwu, a 5-11 powerhouse, fouled out at 3:43 with 16 points, and Strand exited with 2:27 left.
Lynden tips off Friday, Feb. 19, at 8 p.m. for the district title and regional seeding against Anacortes (15-7), which beat Cedarcrest 40-29 as senior standout Brooke Geffe had a game-high 13 points.
“From what I know, I don’t think any Lynden girls’ team has ever won three straight district titles,” said Adams, whose team lost a 45-25 non-league game to Anacortes and Lynden won the league contest 54-41.
Zwiers made three 3-pointers, including a 3 with two seconds left in the third quarter for a 36-36 tie. Talented reserves Emily Holt (solid defense) and Sierra Smith (a big 3 in the third quarter) contributed in the second half and Neria scored 4 of her 9 points in the final period. Mariah Gonzalez was a defensive stalwart with six rebounds and sophomore Natalie Amos had four points and six rebounds.
“This one sure felt good,” said Zwiers. “It probably was my best game.”
IT WAS OVER WHEN …
… Kooiman’s two free throws with 11.8 seconds left made it 51-45 and Lynden’s defense took charge.
GAME BALL GOES TO …
… Kooiman, for her 2-for-3 field goal shooting and 7-for-7 free throw accuracy under fourth-quarter pressure, along with her ability to stay in after being whistled for her fourth foul late in the third quarter.
Lynden 52, Shorecrest 45
Shorecrest: Wurrie Njadoe 12, Uju Chibuogwu 16, Julia Strand 8, Jazlyn Owens 5, Ari Rantz 0, Sheridan Stephenson 4, Shelby Gresch 0, Amanda Kagarabi 0, Ronna Iverson 0. Totals: 17-44 8-15 45.
Lynden: Elisa Kooiman 20, Lauren Zwiers 12, Jasmyne Neria 9, Natalie Amos 4, Mariah Gonzalez 3, Sierra Smith 4, Emily Holt 0, Olivia Bonsen 0. Totals: 17-41 12-20 52.