As a junior, Hernandez averaged 7.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game while shooting 47.6 percent from the field in a season that ended with a state championship for the Lyncs. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)

She connected with the people and mindset at perennial NAIA contender 

LYNDEN ­— From one winning program to another. 

With her commitment to The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, California, Lynden Christian senior Lexi Hernandez will go from one of the best high school programs in the state to one of the top NAIA programs in the country. 

There were plenty of things about The Master’s University that were appealing to Hernandez.

The opportunity to continue a Christian education was one, but the close-knit community that comes with a private school was another. It reminded her of where she’s at now. 

“It’s like a big, huge family over there, like the Lynden community,” Hernandez said. “Overall, I just really connected with the coaches and liked the private, Christian university.”

The Mustangs’ women’s basketball program has made the national tournament the last eight years and, like many who go through the Lynden Christian program, Hernandez absorbed its winning mindset.

“Winning isn’t everything, but I definitely like to win,” Hernandez said. “It’s a bonus to be going to such a successful and hard-working program.”

Hernandez had been talking with coaches and the school for a couple of months prior to her visit in August and she even received an offer before she made the trip down to take a look at the school.

On her visit, Hernandez spent time with coaches and some of the players, and she found she connected with them instantly.

Among those players was 2020 Lynden High School graduate Liv Tjoelker. Instead of hitting the same court as opponents, Hernandez and Tjoelker will wear the same uniform next year. 

“She’s really cool and I’m really excited I’ll be able to play with her,” Hernandez said of Tjoelker. “We’ve been rivals all our lives basically and now I get to play with her. It’s nice to have someone over there that I know.”

Hernandez will have more than one person she knows once she makes the move to California next year. She’ll have the benefit of family members living within 45 minutes of the campus. 

She’ll also be about two and a half hours away from her older sister, Isabela, who’s currently on the roster of the women’s basketball team at San Diego State University. 

Finding a school to commit to before she heads into her final season at Lynden Christian takes a load of pressure off, Hernandez said. 

“I can just play and have fun and just enjoy every moment playing my last year of high school,” she said. 

Like many prep athletes in the state and across the country, Hernandez had to navigate a recruitment process significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Since it was out of her control, she said, she just took it day-by-day.

“I was just trusting the process and knew that everything would happen the way it’s supposed to,” Hernandez said. “I’m super thankful I could commit right now before the season. It’s a huge relief to know my next step after high school.”

Hernandez has been busy preparing for the upcoming prep season. Currently, the high school basketball season is scheduled to begin with practices allowed at the end of December.