YAKIMA, Wash. — After a pair of improbable shots fell for Lynden Christian, the pressure appeared to be focused squarely on La Salle in Saturday’s 1A state championship game.
But the Lightning defense just kept working, and it was the Lyncs who faltered while La Salle’s Kamryn Fiscus started to heat up from outside. The senior guard provided the spark as the Lightning surged past Lynden Christian for a 56-49 win, ending the game on a 17-1 run to capture the school’s third state title.
“I think we were pretty consistent with our energy level and our effort,” coach Alyssa Goins said. “It just finally took that long before we were able to wear them down.”
Fiscus and forward Trista Hull acknowledged feeling some frustration after Riley Dykstra hit a 3-pointer from about 25 feet out at the third quarter buzzer, then Liv Mellema scored her only points of the game on her team’s seventh 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter with a second left on the shot clock to put the Lyncs ahead 48-39.
Coaches told players not to panic, and Fiscus said they expected No. 3 seed Lynden Christian to hit some difficult shots. Still, they needed to find some offense quickly against a 2-3 zone full of size ready to challenge every shot inside.
So La Salle turned to a play Goins said the team recently put in to combat those obstacles. Forward Natalie Newman dribbled in from the left wing to find an opening and then hit a pull-up jumper, forcing the defense to adjust.
That left Fiscus open on the wing the next time Newman attacked, and the senior guard who scored the game-tying goal in the state soccer championship La Salle went on to win came through again. She sank all three attempts on virtually the same play to tie the game with three minutes left and then put the Lightning ahead after a shot clock violation by the Lyncs.
“They weren’t falling at first, so it was a little frustrating,” Fiscus said. “But then they started falling and I just had to be confident and keep shooting.”
Each trey gave more energy to La Salle’s sizeable home crowd, and Fiscus could sense Lynden Christian getting rattled as she added a steal. Hull sealed the win by sinking all four free throw attempts to cap off another double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, earning a spot on the 1A all-tournament team.
She led the Lightning with six points and five rebounds in the first half while battling hard inside against three Lyncs starters 5-11 or taller. Hull even stepped outside and made a rare 3-pointer to end a long La Salle field goal drought during which Lynden Christian went on a 15-2 run.
“That was really exciting,” Hull said. “That kind of hyped me up. I think that got us going, too.”
Fiscus’ first 3-pointer of the game cut what had been a ten-point deficit to six at half. It marked a stark contrast to La Salle’s last three games, during which it outscored opponents by a combined 51-11 in the opening quarter and then never trailed again.
The Lightning (27-0) faced the toughest possible road at the SunDome, according to the RPI. A 41-35 win over No. 4 Cashmere followed a 61-21 rout of No. 2 Bellevue Christian to set up the showdown with the No. 3 Lyncs, who won last year’s title game.
“My teammates and I, we had one goal this season — to get back to the dome,” said Fiscus, who also hit a critical 3-pointer to begin a rally in last year’s third-place game win over Medical Lake. “I think our road at the Dome was probably the toughest and I couldn’t have asked for it to be better.”
She’s one of six seniors on the roster, including fellow guard Tatiana White, who scored four points and played a pivotal role in forcing 18 Lynden Christian turnovers. Hull said the chance to send that group out on top made Saturday’s win even more special, and Goins noted all of them contributed to the Lightning’s remarkable run of success.
“That’s the greatest thing about this basketball team,” Goins said. “Even the kids that didn’t get on the court are some of the best basketball players in the state and they work hard and push each other every single day in practice.”
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN — Isabela Hernandez 13, Riley Dykstra 11, L. Mellema 3, E, Mellema 4, Sterk 8, Stump 5, Bocci 3, Roetcisoender 0, Wiersma 0, L. Hernandez 2. Totals 17-39 10-17 49.
LA SALLE — Kamryn Fiscus 15, White 4, Stohr 2, Trista Hill 19, Newman 9, Martin 0, Ashby 3, McGree 4. Totals 18-51 13-18 56.
Lynden Christian 19 11 15 4 — 49
La Salle 16 8 13 19 — 56
Highlights: I. Hernandez (LC) 7 rebs; Dykstra (LC) 5 rebs; Emily Mellema (LC) 3 rebs, 3 assts; Grace Sterk (LC) 5 rebs; Fiscus (LS) 3 assts, 4 stls; Hull (LS) 10 rebs, 2 blks; Natalie Newman (LS) 3 rebs, 5 assts, 2 stls.