Lynden Christian senior Cole Bajema (L) and Lynden senior Clayton Whitman (R) will square off Friday at The Jake. PHOTOS: Doug Lange
Lyncs vs. Lions: Clash of the Titans
January 25, 2019
The buzz has been building all season long and tonight is the night. It's the boys basketball game of the year in the Northwest Conference, complete with a battle for city bragging rights. It's Lynden Christian versus Lynden.
Amid the backdrop of "Coaches versus Cancer", a packed house and a special hall of fame induction at halftime, the Lyncs and Lions will clash at Jake Maberry Gymnasium.
Both teams come in undefeated with matching records of 17-0 overall and 10-0 in NWC play. Both are top ranked in their classifications and both are defending state champs after going back-to-back with title game victories at the SunDome in Yakima last March.
"It's been fun, there's a lot of excitement around school," said Lynden head coach Brian Roper. "We try to balance embracing that, but at the same time remember that as coaches and players our job is to prepare to play a good game."
Lynden Christian head coach Roger DeBoer said the crazy and chaotic nature of the a game this big hit him earlier in the week after meeting with Lynden Athletic Director Mike McKee and watching him getting ready for gamed.
"The extra security, all the extra behind the scene things he was involved in. I had to take a deep breath when I climbed in my car and just understand that this isn't maybe your ordinary high school basketball game, said DeBoer. "There's a lot of excitement and at the same time a lot of extra responsibilities on everybody's shoulders."
So just how popular is this match-up?
The game is sold out. If you don’t already have a ticket for the game you won't be able to buy one at the gate. According to the Lynden Schools Twitter feed It's the first sell-out of the 3,200-seat Jake Maberry Gymnasium since 2007.
The contest will also feature the biggest gathering of fans in the Northwest Conference for one of the Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser games this week. The late Curt Kramme will be honored at halftime with induction into the Lynden Athletics Hall of Fame. The 7-time state champion football coach died of cancer in 2017.
As for the game itself, it's a hoops junkie dream match-up. Since both teams won their state titles last March, they have been on this collision course.
The Lions, who score 74.4 points per contest, have rolled over their opponents by an average of 30 points per game. their closest game was a 19-point victory over Eastlake to open up the year back on December 8th. Along the way the Lions have carved up powerhouse programs like O'Dea, Selah and Zillah.
Lynden is led by 2017-28 All-Staters in forward Clayton Whitman and guard Christian Zamora. The Seattle Pacific University bound Whitman averages 19.3 points per game while Zamora averages 18.1 points and tops the squad in rebounds at 5.1 per contest.
Lynden Christian is the highest scoring team out of the NWC with a 75.4 points per game average. Their margin of victory is 22.9 points per outing. The Lyncs have posted some huge wins getting past 3A Wilson and 4A Glacier peak as well as outlasting a very good Anacortes team by 2 points last week.
Lynden Christian is paced by Cole Bajema, last years 1A state Player of the Year. The small forward averages 23 points per game, is ranked 3rd overall in the state of Washington by 247sports.com and has committed to Michigan. The Lyncs also feature 3-point sharpshooter Andrew DeVries and big man Cristian Colwell who both average 12 points per outing.
As good as their own squads are, the coaches seem mighty impressed by their opponents.
"I had a chance to grow up in this town and have seen a lot of great Lynden teams,"said DeBoer. I know there's probably a few people that will argue with me, but this has to be one of the, if not the best Lynden team in the history of the school."
Not to be outdone in the mutual admiration society, Roper had high praise for LC's long range shooting and their leader.
"This team is perhaps the best 3-point shooting team as a group that I've seen in the 14 years I've been in this conference," said Roper. "They've got coach Deboer, the hall of fame coach with 500 wins and that's got to be worth 10 or 15 points right there."
This is the arguably the most impactful meeting between the two squads since they met back in 2013 after both teams had won state championships. Lynden took that game 53-48 and the Lions have won 2 of the last 3 contests, with each game decided by just 3 points.
Tonight's game tips-off at 7:15pm. You can hear the game on The Doug Lange Network right here with coverage beginning at 6:45pm.
- Doug Lange
Lynden Christian coach Roger DeBoer (L) & Lynden coach Brian Roper (R). PHOTOS: Doug Lange
The Lynden and Lynden Christian boys basketball teams pose for a joint photo after winning 2018 state championships in the Yakima SunDome. PHOTO: Ted House