Junior Anna VanderYacht drives against a Sehome defender early in the Lions' win Thursday night. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)

Lions pick up 12th win of the season behind strong defensive play

BELLINGHAM — Lynden girls basketball stayed undefeated on the season Thursday night as it coasted to a 58-24 win over Sehome.

The top-ranked Lions (12-0, 5-0 NWC) played tough defense all night holding the Mariners (9-3, 4-1 NWC) to single figures in scoring across all four quarters, handing Sehome its first league loss. 

Lynden coach Rob Adams said shutting down Sehome junior Aspen Garrison was a big part of that. 

“A lot of their stuff starts on the interior. Aspen is a really tough out for everybody,” Adams said. “She’s a really good player and I thought we did an exceptional job on her. Every shot she did make was contested and tough. Once we were able to nullify that, it allowed us to get out and pressure the ball a little more which led to some transition baskets.”

The Lions were in control from the start going on a 9-0 run to get the game going and led 13-5 after the first quarter. 

There was no letting up from Lynden in the next quarter and the Lions took a 26-9 lead into the break. Lynden held a comfortable lead and had the momentum for most of the game, but it wasn’t always pretty for the Lions. 

As a team, Lynden shot 44 percent from the field and was 2-for-17 from the 3-point line. Despite not having the sharpest shooting on the night, Adams said he was happy with how the team played in other aspects of the game. 

“I was really happy with the energy we played with,” he said. “In the past this season, if we missed shots like that we would slow down and I don’t think we slowed down. We just kind of kept playing and were able to get easier baskets.”

Senior Keylie Hershey led the charge for the Lions with 18 points to go with five steals. Junior Madison Canales scored eight and pulled down five boards. Junior Faith Baar added seven points and three steals. 

Adams said each game the Lions have played this season has been unique in the way they’ve found ways to win. 

“We’ve had to win a lot of games this year differently,” he said. “We’ve had several overtime games and games where we’ve had to come from behind. Every game has been different, which is encouraging as a coach because we’ve managed to win in different ways.”

The Lions are currently sitting atop the Class 2A RPI rankings and the Northwest Conference. The Lions lead Lynden Christian in the conference by a half game with the Lyncs playing Friday night.

Moving forward with conference play, Adams said the team has to figure out their problems at the free throw line. The Lions went to the charity stripe 26 times against the Mariners, but made only eight of their shots.

“That’s been our nemesis now all season,” Adams said. “For as good of a shooting team we are, we are very poor from the free throw line and we need to address that.” 

Up next for the Lions is another Northwest Conference matchup Monday, Jan. 13, against Meridian (5-5, 2-2 NWC) in Laurel. Sehome will travel to play Nooksack Valley (10-2, 4-1 NWC) also on Monday. 

Scores from around the league

Nooksack Valley girls 66, Anacortes 51

The Pioneers (10-2, 4-1 NWC) picked up another win in the conference, their seventh in a row after dropping back-to-back games in mid-December. Maya Galley scored a game-high 19 points, Koral Larsen added 14 and Hallie Kamphouse tallied 11 in the win.

Bellingham 57, Squalicum 41

The Red Raiders (7-5, 1-4 NWC) bounced back from a loss to Lynden earlier this week and notched their first win in the conference over Squalicum. Junior forward Alexa Mee scored a team-high 17 points for Bellingham. 

Mount Baker 49, Lakewood 27

Freshman Madison Barter led the Mounties with 12 points as Mount Baker won its second-straight.