Jasmyne Neria said her and her teammates tend to get nervous before games.
Well, playing in the Lions’ biggest game of the season so far, there were no signs of trepidation. No hesitation. No feeling that the SunDome’s stage was too big.
Lynden quickly put Black Hills in a daunting deficit, never allowing the Wolves to recover, and earned a 59-44 Class 2A State Tournament quarterfinal win Thursday afternoon, March 3, at the Yakima SunDome.
“We all talked about how we are going to start out good, and we haven’t had a game where we shoot lights out,” Neria said. “So coming out in the first quarter, it was like, ‘Wow,’ all the shots were going in. We were jacked.”
Elisa Kooiman scored a game-high 22 points with 18 coming during the second half, Neria finished with 11 points and six rebounds and Mariah Gonzalez and Natalie Amos scored seven points apiece.
We knew they were a good opponent. We went out and played for each other, and we just went out there and had fun.
Lynden guard Jasmyne Neria
The win advances Lynden to the state semifinals where it will face Ellensburg at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 4.
Most Northwest Conference teams know playing a man defense against Lynden’s arsenal of scorers is a bad idea, but Black Hills found out the hard way.
“We’ve been waiting all year for teams to man us,” Lynden coach Rob Adams said. “When teams man us, we can get after people.”
Back-to-back buckets from Gonzalez, four straight points by Neria and back-to-back 3s from Lauren Zwires and Neria helped build a 14-0 lead 4:35 into the game.
Black Hills failed to score a field goal in the first quarter. The Wolves’ first basket came at the 6:45 mark in the second quarter.
Lynden led 15-2, but the Lions couldn’t keep up their frenetic scoring pace the entire first half. Black Hills chipped away at the lead, pulling the score to 22-13 at halftime and 30-23 with 3:10 to go in the third quarter.
But after Kooiman was limited to four first-half points, the junior guard went to work during the second half. She scored nine points in the third quarter before matching the total in the fourth.
63.6 Lynden’s field goal (14 of 22) percentage during the second half of its 59-44 win over Black Hills.
“Elisa was figuring out where the holes were (in Black Hills’ zone), and she got the ball on time and on target,” Adams said. “She is a very tough player as is, but even tougher when running downhill in the middle of your zone. You don’t know where she is at.”
Neria drilled a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left in the third quarter, capping a 9-2 scoring run that gave the Lions a 39-25 lead entering the fourth.
Zwiers opened the fourth with a 3, and Black Hills could never recover.
Wolves freshman post Maisy Williams matched teammate Lindsey Nurmi with a team-high 11 points.
“It’s a huge win for us,” Adams said. “Anytime you can get in the state semifinals ... you’re one of the final teams left playing for the gold ball.”
Lynden 59, Black Hills 44
Lynden: Lauren Zwires 6, Morgan Black 0, Jasmyne Neria 11, Mariah Gonzalez 7, Sierra Smith 4, Olivia Bonsen 2, Heidi Lankhaar 0, Elisa Kooiman 22, Emily Holt 0, Natalie Amos 7.
Black Hills: Maisy Williams 11, Rachel LaBelle 2, Taylor Patti 0, Bailey Rollman 0, Sammi Payne 5, Emma Duff 9, Lindsey Nurmi 11, Kayley Moloney 6.