YAKIMA — Lynden Christian defeated Kings for the second straight year to win the 1A boy's state championship game.
The Lyncs are back-to-back champions for the first time in program history after the 57-47 victory on Saturday, March 4. It is the eighth state championship title that LC has won since they started playing in the tournament in 1965.
LC head coach Tim Zylstra said he is thankful to have the opportunity to coach these kids to another championship victory.
It is the third straight championship game that featured LC and Kings. In 2020, Kings squeaked by LC by three points. There was no title game in 2021 due to COVID-19, so their next matchup did not come until 2022. The Lyncs got revenge on Kings in their second bout and returned the favor by winning by three.
This third game served as the tiebreaker between the two 1A superpowers and at the beginning of the game, Kings was in the driver's seat. The Knights ripped off a 13-0 run in the first quarter and were up 21-8 against LC going into the second.
LC senior Tyler Sipma said that despite being down 13 points early in the game, their coach told them they have been here before and they know how to comeback.
“Tim just kinda smiled at us and said ‘guys we are fine relax,’” Sipma said. “With that mentality running through everyones brain it lets us really play free and get our work done.”
Sipma was electric in the tournament. He was the perfect floor general throughout their three games and continually created offense for himself and for his teammates. Sipma finished the game championship game with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists. He was also placed on the All-Tournament second team.
Junior Jeremiah Wright was named the 1A tournament Most Valuable Player. Wright was incessant on the boards and contributed multiple second-chance points for the Lyncs. Wright had 15 points and a ridiculous 14 rebounds to help lead the Lyncs to the championship win.
Following the rough first quarter, LC broke out of their funk and stormed back as they rode the hot hand of senior Lane Dykstra. He hit two threes at the beginning of the second quarter to shoot life back into the Lyncs.
Zylstra said he is proud of how they shared the ball throughout the night.
“We are so much harder to guard when other people are hitting shots, it spreads things out. I give all the credit to the boys, they work their tail off in practice and that is where it starts,” Zylstra said.
LC outscored Kings 14-6 in the second quarter but went into halftime trailing 27-22. The Lyncs opened the second half on a heater. They tore off an 8-0 run to start the third quarter and grabbed their first lead since the first quarter. Junior Dawson Bouma started to warm up with four points early in the third.
The Lyncs outscored the Knights 17-9 in the third quarter and did not look back after that. They went into the fourth with a 39-36 lead and did not relinquish it again.
With two and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter, Dykstra and Wright combined to close the game. Dykstra hit his third three-pointer of the night to give LC a six-point lead. On their next offensive possession, Sipma drove inside the paint and put up a shot that bounced off the rim and Wright snatched it with three King players around him. Wright dribbled back a step and put a shot off the glass to lunge the dagger into the Knight's championship hopes.
LC has been the model of consistency in the 1A division. They have not placed worse than fifth since before 2005 and have won three titles in the last five years.
“Each group that comes through, then you have special bonds with each one of those players. Just to see them love each other and bond together like that is better than the championship. It shows what you can do when you stay together,” Zylstra said.