sports

A shortened athletic year still brought two state championships to the city of Lynden with the Lynden and Lynden Christian girls basketball teams capturing state crowns in March. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)

Both Lynden girls basketball teams won it all

WHATCOM ­— The prep sports scene was ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. But if you can remember a distant 10 months ago, the SunDome in Yakima was filled with parents, fans and athletes for the high school state basketball tournament. 

A week later, most parts of the state and country were shutting down schools and their sports. 

Looking back, it was the last time things were functioning as normal. Word of the coronavirus was only starting to filter out and it was unknown just how much life was going to change for the long haul. 

The Lynden and Lynden Christian girls teams returned to town as state champions, while the LC boys came back with a second-place trophy and the Lynden boys finished third.

Here are the highlights of that climax of 2020 state basketball, as well as prep sports overall in an abnormal year. 

 

State Champions

 

Lynden girls basketball

Without much argument, the Lynden girls basketball team was ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 2A for the entire season and the Lions exited the SunDome with the hardware to prove it. 

And they did so in a dominating fashion. 

The Lions cruised through their side of the bracket, which included No. 2 Ellensburg in the quarterfinals and conference rival Burlington-Edison in the semifinals, to set up a clash with West Valley of Spokane in the title game. 

Having beat the Eagles just a week prior, the result was much of the same with Lynden pulling away in the second half for a 60-38 victory and the state crown. 

It was the third state championship in program history for Lynden. Senior Ruby VanderHaak was named all-tournament MVP. 

 

Lynden Christian girls basketball

The Lyncs spent the season ranked second behind Cashmere and the Bulldogs’ star Hailey Van Lith, but they wouldn’t let it finish that way. 

Lynden Christian also rolled through its side of the bracket, making easy work of Zillah in the quarterfinals and Freeman in the semifinals to set up the No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown every fan in the SunDome that weekend would have wanted to see.

And it turned out to be the kind of game every fan also expected from the top two teams in the state hitting the same court.

The Lyncs rallied in the fourth quarter from an 8-point deficit and pulled out a 58-55 win, snapping Cashmere’s perfect record in the championship game.

Lynden Christian head coach Brady Bomber said the atmosphere that night sticks out to him 10 months later. 

“We’ve been privileged to play in a few state championship games and with that one, the energy at the Dome was just a bit different than what we’ve experienced before,” Bomber said. “For our girls to play on that stage in front of that environment was really special. Watching a group of people come together and just compete with one goal in mind was something I’m really thankful to have been a part of.”

It was the 13th state title for the Lyncs program. 

 

State Finishes

 

Lynden boys basketball

It looked like the Lions were heading to their third straight state championship game appearance, but a fourth-quarter comeback by North Kitsap in the semifinals sent Lynden to the third/fifth-place game.

Senior Brock Heppner wrapped up an illustrious career as a Lion and Lynden beat Lindbergh 72-58 to place third. 

 

Lynden Christian boys basketball

In a season that many thought would be a down one for Lynden Christian, the Lyncs shocked everyone except themselves in Yakima.

It started with an overtime win over defending champion Zillah the week before the state tournament to propel the Lyncs straight into the quarterfinals. 

Wins over Meridian and LaSalle put Lynden Christian in the state title game against tournament favorite King’s.

The Lyncs saw a late fourth-quarter lead slip away in a 70-67 overtime loss to the Knights in the championship. 

 

Also Notable

 

Meridian boys basketball

The Trojans posted 20 wins and returned to the SunDome for the first time since 2010.

Meridian was led by seniors Jackson Short, Jordan Veenstra and Ryan Johnson. 

 

Medals winners at state Mat Classic

A total of 31 wrestlers from Whatcom County made the trip south to the Tacoma Dome for the state wrestling tournament and 11 of them came back with medals. 

Mount Baker juniors Nico Johnson (106) and Kilian Cronk (145) both placed seventh. Junior Ebonney Bowhay (125) also placed seventh.

Meridian junior Tenley Swope (145) placed fourth. 

Nooksack Valley seniors Cameron Bauman (195) and Levi Harlan (220) both placed third. 

Lynden’s Hailie Holestine (130) earned the lone medal for the Lions, placing third. 

Ferndale senior Jake Broselle (170) placed third while juniors Hope Jose-Day (100) placed seventh and Alex Brulotte (170) placed fourth. 

 

From the conclusion of winter sports in early March, the prep sports scene wa just starting to gear up for spring when COVID usurped everything, and no official competition has has been held since. 

There’s still uncertainty of what high school sports will look like in 2021, but coaches and players will continue to wait, and hope, for the word that they’ll be able to play some kind of abbreviated season. 

Although small, the memories athletes and coaches were able to make at the beginning of the year are still worth holding onto, Bomber said. 

“I don’t know that it eases the pain of missing opportunities, but I think there’s a certain value in having something to reflect on that’s meaningful at the same time.”