Lynden Invite hosts more than 70 teams for marquee tournament
LYNDEN — It may be June, but if you were bouncing between Lynden and Lynden Christian high schools and the Ridnour Athletic Complex over the weekend, you may have felt as if winter sports season was upon us.
More than 70 high school basketball teams from Washington and British Columbia took part in the Cloud 9 Sports Lynden Invite on Friday through Sunday.
In the girls bracket, the Class 1A Meridian girls outlasted 2A Lynden for the title. The boys tournament saw Class 2B power Kittitas take down 2A Selah 75-71 in overtime in the championship round. Teams from Mount Baker, Nooksack Valley, Lynden Christian and Ferndale also participated in the tourney, which included varsity and junior varsity brackets.
Saturday night provided two highlight matchups for local teams at Lynden High School, and the good crowd on hand made it feel like a regular night of prep season hoops.
First, the Lynden boys took on Selah in a battle of two of the best teams in Class 2A — the Lions won the state title while the Vikings finished fourth at the state tournament in Yakima in March.
Behind a hot shooting first half from incoming senior Christian Zamora, a first-team all-state selection in 2017-18, Lynden took a 16-5 lead to start the game. Later, incoming senior Clayton Whitman, another first-team all-state pick and the 2A state tournament MVP, stole the ball and went the other way for a dunk to give the Lions a 22-10 lead with about eight minutes gone in the first of two 20-minute halves.
Two more Zamora triples and a layup helped Lynden build a 35-25 edge with five minutes left in the half. Whitman then hit back-to-back shots, and incoming senior James Marsh connected on an inside shot to put the Lions up 41-32 at the half.
Behind Class 2A Player of the Year Elijah Pepper, Selah came out roaring in the second half and soon tied the game at 45-45. Whitman came back with consecutive threes to put Lynden up 51-46, but the Vikings came right back to tie things again at 53-53.
With Selah up 55-53, incoming junior Brock Heppner made his presence felt for the Lions. He snagged an offensive rebound and converted the shot to tie the score again. After four straight points for Selah and a three-point play from incoming Lynden senior James Marsh, the Vikings led 59-58 with less than three minutes to play.
Heppner scored four more points down the stretch, and Lynden trailed 65-64 in the final seconds when Marsh went to the free-throw line. Marsh missed both foul shots, and Selah made two free throws on the other end for a 67-64 advantage. Zamora attempted to get off a last-second three-pointer, but the Vikings’ defense didn’t allow a clean look.
The 1A state champion Lynden Christian boys took the court next to take on 2B champs Kittitas. The matchup featured Class 1A Player of the Year and incoming senior Cole Bajema for LC and incoming junior Brock Ravet for Kittitas, who is already committed to play for the great basketball program at Gonzaga.
It was all Kittitas in the first half as the Coyotes went on a 17-0 run to build a 28-13 lead with just over three minutes left in the first half. LC led 13-11 before going cold from the floor, missing a number of shots in a row.
Lynden Christian incoming junior Andrew DeVries, a second-team all-Northwest Conference pick last season, broke the Lyncs’ scoring drought with his third triple of the opening 20 minutes. The school-record holder for three-pointers made in a season, DeVries soon came back with another triple to cut the Coyotes’ lead to 28-19.
A three by LC incoming senior Luke Bos made it 30-22, but Ravet followed with a three for Kittitas as the Coyotes managed a 35-24 halftime lead.
Bajema began his explosive second half for the Lyncs with a three to make the score 35-27. Ravet responded with two consecutive threes for the Coyotes, and then Bajema buried another triple.
Yet another Kittitas three-point shot then put the Coyotes up 45-30. That’s when LC went on a 16-0 run to take the lead. Bajema and DeVries each came up with threes during the run, and incoming senior Cole Langstraat made his presence felt with five points.
With things tied at 46, five straight points for Kittitas made the score 51-46. Ravet’s passing and shooting helped the Coyotes pull away for a 67-57 lead before Bajema drilled his sixth three-pointer of the half in the final minute. It wasn’t enough as the Coyotes won 72-62 on their way to the tournament title.