Both coaches felt both Lynden Christian and Mount Baker should be going to the state’s Class 1A regional boys’ basketball playoffs “without a doubt,” as each said.
“The one sad thing is that I’m really bummed that Mount Baker also won’t go,” LC coach Roger DeBoer sportingly said in the wake of the ever-hustling Lyncs’ 65-56 win over the relentless Mountaineers (17-9) in a fiercely contested Bi-District Tournament loser-out game Saturday, Feb. 20, at Mountlake Terrace. “Baker definitely deserves to.”
Baker coach Rob Gray agreed after finishing 4-2 in the postseason, including his 200th win in 19 years (he now has 202).
“I wouldn’t trade our guys for anyone. They have no quit in them. We went out with our best effort of the season,” Gray said.
Baker, though, could not overcome a nicely balanced effort for the Lyncs (22-2) by five seniors. Jake Poag’s game-high 23 points included seven 3s, matching his season high and giving him 51 this year, while Nate Hielkema hit a career-high four 3s and had 14 ponts. Zach Roetcisoender calmly stayed in the flow of the game and scored 16, while guards Lucas Roetcisoender (key fourth-quarter 3 and eight points) and Josiah Meppelink (cool floor game and five assists) both stood up to Baker’s fierce pressure.
Baker junior T.J. Bass hit nine shots in a row for 18 points and Grant Balvanz meshed three 3-pointers and scored 14, with 10 in the second half. Tim Soares, Baker’s 6-foot-10 senior, grabbed 10 rebounds but was limited to 10 shots by LC’s sticky zone and made four.
IT WAS OVER WHEN …
… After Balvanz scored Baker’s last hoop, Hielkema hit a 3, Zach Roetcisoender switched a jumper and Poag made a huge steal and sank two free throws for the game’s final seven points, all in the last minute.
HIELKEMA AT HIS BEST
When asked if he had ever scored four 3-pointers (perhaps inspired by Poeg’s five triples in the second quarter), Hielkema responded with a wide grin, “Not that I can remember. I don’t even know my scoring average, which I guess will tell you something about my scoring average.”
PRAISE FROM LYNCS
Roetcisoender made a point to praise Baker’s all-out effort: “That was one of our best team games of the year. (We needed it) against an incredible effort by Baker. Baker is definitely a state-playoff caliber team.”
POAG’S AMAZING 3
Poag artfully unloaded just inside the half-court line and made a 3 at the buzzer, giving the Lyncs a 32-29 halftime lead and eliciting a deafening crowd reaction.
Lynden Christian 65, Mount Baker 56
Mount Baker: Timothy Soares 8, T.J. Bass 18, Mason Bass 5, Keenan Gray 3, Grant Balvanz 14, Carson Engholm 4, Ethan Gates 4, Thomas Barbo 0, Jed Schleimer 0. Total: 56.
Lynden Christian: Jake Poag 23, Zach Roetcisoender 16, Nate Hielkema 14, Lucas Roetcisoender 8, Josiah Meppelink 2, Tanner Bouma 0, Grant Rubbert 2, Cole Bajema 0. Total: 65.