The traditional celebratory “On to state” cheer reverberated from the Lynden Christian girls’ basketball team’s locker room not once, but twice on Friday, Feb. 26.
Granted, the second time was an accident, when senior Kara Bajema forgot to disconnect her phone from a set of speakers, and the recording she made of the first echoed throughout the hallway at Mount Vernon High School a second time.
But with the performance the Lyncs turned in, why not shout it out twice?
LC looked every bit of its No. 1 ranking as it owned just about every aspect of the Class 1A regional round game in a dominating 72-34 victory over Charles Wright Academy, sending the Lyncs to Yakima for a 12th straight year.
“This is a big one, because you only have this one shot to get through to Yakima,” Lyncs coach Brady Bomber said. “Now we can move on to the next step.”
But let’s savor, just for a minute, what the Lyncs (23-2) were able to accomplish Friday, before we find out who they’ll draw on Sunday, Feb. 28, for the state quarterfinals, which will be played Thursday, March 3, at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
Lynden Christian only led by a 13-10 count after the first quarter, as the scrappy Tarriers (15-9) looked like they might hang around for a while.
But the Lyncs out scored CWA 59-24 in the final three quarters — and it probably could have been worse if LC hadn’t started emptying its bench at the start of the fourth quarter.
“We just needed to focus a little more on what we needed to do,” Bomber said of his team’s second-quarter adjustments.
And what the Lyncs needed to do was get the ball inside, where they had an obvious size advantage with the 6-foot-2 Kara Bajema and the 6-1 Sam Van Loo. The Tarriers didn’t have a starter taller than 5-8.
“We knew coming into this game we wanted to get it inside,” Bajema said. “It may have taken us a little bit, but we figured it out.”
And figure it out they did, as Bajema scored six points in the second quarter and Van Loo added nine. Both had 13 points at the break, and Van Loo already had a double-double with 10 rebounds.
“We were a little too stagnant in the first quarter, so we really emphasized looking for opportunities to attack,” Bomber said. “When the ball gets swung, the ball has got to go inside and the posts have got to go strong. We cut a lot harder and crashed a lot harder.”
The Lyncs went on an 8-0 run early in the second quarter and then basically put the game away with a 9-0 run to close out the half.
But they didn’t stop there, as they outscored the Tarriers 21-5 in the third quarter.
“We knew coming in that we were a lot taller than them,” Van Loo said. “They were quick, and we needed to contain them, but if we could seal and get it inside. We just needed to be strong. We were able to do that after the first quarter.”
Van Loo had game highs with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Bajema almost joined her with a double-double, as she finished with 15 points and nine boards, while Isabela Hernandez came off the bench for 12 points and six rebounds, as LC won the rebounding battle 49-26.
But on the boards was hardly the only place the Lyncs were impressive.
They shot 50 percent from the field, and of their 31 field goals, 18 came off an assist. Avery Dykstra led the way with seven, and Bajema and Van Loo were the biggest beneficiaries.
“It’s important to attack and kick and stuff, and our guards did a really good job of that — Avery especially,” Bajema said. “She had so much pressure with those two up top, but she did a good job of finding us.”
Hernandez, Haley Hollander, Shaye Brandsma, Bajema and Riley Van Hulzen all logged a pair of assists.
“We’ve got a team that’s unselfish,” Bomber said. “They enjoy sharing the ball a lot and moving it from side to side. We started doing that the last three quarters, and it makes the defense shift. It allowed our posts to find gaps.”
Lynden Christian 72, Charles Wright 34
Charles Wright: Majestic Moler 3, Gabi Joubert 0, Grace Hanly 0, Kaia Valentine 5, Julia Hanly 0, Dominique Baldwin 0, Aliyah Narcisse 0, Naomi Pikes 7, Lola Oyetuga 2, Shoni Pritchett 17.
Lynden Christian: Torina Hommes 2, Isabella Hernandez 12, Haley Hollander 0, Shaye Brandsma 7, Kara Bajema 15, Sam Van Loo 19, Riley Van Hulzen 6, Avery Dykstra 4, Josie Bocci 0, Ellie Vander Veen 0, Emmalee Bailey 5, Kiya Levien 2.