Lynden star guard Elisa Kooiman wasn’t about to let herself and her Lions miss out on a third straight trip to the Hardwood Classic.
Playing with a heavy heart after her grandma died earlier this week, Kooiman scored a game-high 21 points and helped spur a second-half turnaround, guiding the Lions to a 67-39 Class 2A State Tournament regional win Saturday, Feb. 27, at Renton High School.
“I couldn’t imagine not going this year, because it just wouldn’t be right,” Kooiman said. “I was really playing this game for my grandma, because she died this week. That is what motivated me the most this week.”
Leading 28-19 at halftime, Kooiman helped blow the game wide open, scoring the third quarter’s first seven points. The Lions cruised from then on.
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“At halftime we said, ‘Hey, we got to chase this,’” Lynden coach Rob Adams said. “’We just got to go do it. We got to get after it.’ It wasn’t yelling and screaming and fist pumping. It was, ‘Hey, we are right here. We are up eight or nine, let’s go drop the hammer and let’s go.”
The Lions did just that, and Kooiman’s teammates certainly had her back in the win.
Lauren Zwires scored 12 of her 15 points on four 3s, Jasmyne Neria added 13 points and Sierra Smith added seven. Kooiman recorded a team-best 10 rebounds, and Zwires added eight.
Liberty made a bit of a comeback, trimming Lynden’s lead to 35-26 with 4:03 left in the third quarter, but the Lions closed the period using a 13-1 scoring run.
Smith hit a triple, followed by a Zwires 3-pointer. Kooiman scored, Zwires connected again from deep, Natalie Amos scored and the rout was on.
Lynden led 48-27 heading into the fourth, and Liberty had no choice but to foul and did so 20 times during the second half.
A major reason for the Patriots’ scoring struggles was Lynden’s tight second-half defense, which led to some easy buckets.
“Our magic number is always 39, and we landed right on that 39,” said Adams of how many points Lynden held Liberty to. “That has never change since I’ve been here. All we hear is 39.”
In all, nine different Lions scored.
“I just think it was a really good, team win,” Kooiman said, “and we all did our part when we needed to and a real team effort overall.”
Lynden 67, Liberty 39
Lynden: Lauren Zwires 15, Morgan Black 2, Jasmyne Neria 13, Mariah Gonzalez 3, Ali Vanzanten 0, Sierra Smith 7, Olivia Bonsen 2, Elisa Kooiman 21, Kyla Bonsen 2, Emily Holt 0, Natalie Amos 2.
Liberty: Presley Sweeney 2, Kelli Anderson 0, Taylor Kaszycki 6, Vanessa Powers 3, Savannah Metzger 4, Sloane Zerda 0, Samantha Kelderman 12, Sydney Argosino 8, Kylie Kirksey 2, Jasmine Baker 0, Alissa Campbell 2, Annie Oman 0.