The opening tip revealed the distinct advantage Lynden Christian would have during its Class 1A State Tournament semifinal matchup with Granger.
Kara Bajema with her 6-foot-2 frame and massive wingspan lined up across from Granger’s 5-foot-4 Jay Vasquez. Vasquez didn’t bother jumping.
The Lyncs used its alarming height advantage over a short but scrappy Granger team to earn a 53-30 Hardwood /classic win Friday night, March 4, at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
“Obviously we had a height advantage, but Granger has played a lot of teams that are bigger than them but it doesn’t matter,” Lynden Christian coach Brady Bomber said. “They do such a good job of spreading you out and attacking gaps. Our team was so patient and they shared the ball.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
The win advances the Lyncs to the 1A state championship game where they will face district rival King’s at 9 p.m. Saturday, March 5. Lynden Christian beat the Knights 53-46 three weeks ago during the district title game.
We told our girls for the first 20 seconds let’s try to attack the rim and get layups. We got the ball inside, and Kara and Sam finished.
Lynden Christian coach Brady Bomber
LC (24-2) will play for the championship for the fifth time in the last 11 years.
Kara Bajema scored a game-high 18 points against Granger, Sam Van Loo added 14 and Avery Dykstra scored nine points and had four assists. Lynden Christian outrebounded Granger 49-18, and five Lyncs (Dykstra, Shaye Brandsma, Haley Hollander, Van Loo and Riley Van Hulzen) had six or more boards.
Sixteen of Bajema’s points came during the first half, and despite playing a diamond-and-1 zone defense against the senior post, the Spartans couldn’t slow her down.
Lynden Christian knew Granger would pack its defense in and try to force the Lyncs to settle for perimeter shots, but LC stayed patient and, more often than not, worked the ball to Bajema or Van Loo in the paint where they seemed automatic from close range.
31 Lynden Christian’s rebounding differential against Granger
“We told our girls for the first 20 seconds let’s try to attack the rim and get layups,” Bomber said. “We got the ball inside, and Kara and Sam finished.”
Lynden Christian opened up a 27-5 lead and held Granger to 13 percent shooting during the first half, essentially putting the game away before the final 16 minutes.
But Granger battled back, cutting the deficit to 33-20 with 3:00 to go in the third quarter before the Lyncs opened the game back up late, extending their lead to 46-24 with 4:55 to play in the fourth.
“We had a timeout, and the girls really locked in and focused,” Bomber said. “We said, ‘We got to make sure we get great shots every time and make sure we hedge on ball screens together.’ It was kind of a refocusing moment for us, and the girls saw the finish line and wanted to finish strong.”
Lynden Christian 53, Granger 30
Granger: Sierra Heitzman 3, Diana Solorio 0, Naya Roettger 1, Laynie Brien 0, Sophie Blodgett 6, Alexis Castro 8, Lindsey Carpenter 11, Lily Stewart 0, Jay Vasquez 1, Emma Stewart 0, Vanessa Vasquez 0.
Lynden Christian: Isabela Hernandez 0, Haley Hollander 2, Shaye Brandsma 3, Kara Bajema 18, Sam Van Loo 14, Riley Van Hulzen 4, Avery Dykstra 9, Josie Bocci 3, Ellie Vander Veen 0, Emmalee Bailey 0, Kiya Levien 0.