Kara Bajema, each of the four seasons she’s played for Lynden Christian’s varsity basketball team, has absorbed a different role.
She came off the bench as a freshman. Sophomore year she started for the first time and was crucial in helping LC win a state championship during Curt De Haan’s final season. Junior year required an increased role in scoring during Brady Bomber’s first season at the helm.
As a senior, Bajema developed into the total package.
“Being a leader and role model to the younger ones was the biggest thing this year,” Bajema said, “and leaving as a senior on a good note.”
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Bajema led, offered the Lyncs a consistent, go-to scorer and flashed her versatility all season long while capping her career with a second state championship.
The 6-foot-2 senior forward, who will play volleyball for the University of Washington next year, has been selected The Bellingham Herald’s All-Whatcom Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year. Bomber, who guided LC to a share of the NWC title, a Class 1A state championship and a 25-2 record, has been selected Coach of the Year.
“I think the best part was our team was so close,” Bajema said. “Our goal at the beginning was to go to state and see what we could do from there. The best way to end is winning a state championship, so I’m very blessed to be a part of a program like LC.”
Bajema averaged 14.9 points per game and was good for plenty of rebounds, assists and blocked shots each night. She served as a role model for talented up-and-comers Sam Van Loo, Avery Dykstra, Riley Van Hulzen, Isabela Hernandez and Torina Hommes and seemed to always rise up when LC needed it most.
Since I was little I was always a shooter and would get the last-minute 3-point shot, and I loved that. I was worried that would go away, but the coaches saw that (ability) in me too. I was able to be that outside player, not just inside.
Lynden Christian’s Kara Bajema
Bajema’s ability to play her best in the biggest moments has been well documented. Two years ago, during what Bajema described as the favorite game of her career, drilled three fourth-quarter 3s during a state semifinal win against Cashmere.
This year, when LC was reeling against King’s in the 1A title game, Bajema, with the help of Dykstra, stepped up once more.
She scored six fourth-quarter points and had three blocks during the final eight minutes, leading an impressive rally to help end her career with a second state title.
“Not going to lie, there were times where I was like, ‘Oh, my,’ when we were down eight or so,” Bajema said. “‘It will take a lot to get back in the game.’ They were a really good team, but Avery Dykstra came up clutch the whole game and everybody came together. ... The team counts on me to score. When we needed some buckets, I had the size and I’d take those opportunities.”
Bajema’s length played a large role in her success, but it didn’t define her. While most 6-2 forwards solely post up under the basket and grab rebounds, Bajema possessed a strong outside shot and thrived along the perimeter, too.
“Since I was little I was always a shooter and would get the last-minute 3-point shot, and I loved that,” Bajema said. “I was worried that would go away, but the coaches saw that (ability) in me too. I was able to be that outside player, not just inside.”
All-Whatcom County Players of the Year
The Bellingham Herald is proud to honor the student-athletes of the winter sports season for an 11th straight year. Here is a look back at the winners of the All-Whatcom County Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year award:
2005-06: Megan Bush, Sehome
2006-07: Brianne Ryan, Lynden Christian
2007-08: Courtney VanBrocklin, Mount Baker
2008-09: Kenzie De Boer, Lynden Christian
2009-10: Taylor Ulrich, Squalicum
2010-11: Jasmine Hommes, Lynden Christian
2011-12: Jasmine Hommes, Lynden Christian
2012-13: Rachel Albert, Sehome
2013-14: Kara Bajema, Lynden Christian
2014-15: Emily Yost, Mount Baker
2015-16: Kara Bajema, Lynden Christian