Luke Ridnour, former NBA and University of Oregon player, attends the state basketball tournament at the Yakima Valley SunDome in Yakima, Wash., Friday, March 2, 2018. (AMANDA RAY/Yakima Herald-Republic)

YAKIMA, Wash. -- A SunDome legend returned for the first time in 18 years to take in Friday’s semifinal and support his new hometown team.

Luke Ridnour dazzled a capacity crowd in 2000, leading Blaine back from a 10-point deficit to beat Wapato 60-56 in overtime. The former Pac-10 Player of the Year at Oregon and 12-year NBA veteran drafted 14th overall by Seattle in 2003 said he loved playing in front of the loud, largely hostile fans hoping to see the Wolves take down the defending champs.

“Even with all the levels I’ve been at, my fondest memories are still high school basketball,” he said.

Officials had to lock the doors and turn people away, something Ridnour didn’t know until he heard it from Kate Reome, a standout athlete for Lakeside who he met that week at a local rotary meeting. She created some SunDome memories of her own the next year, helping Lakeside (9 Mile Falls) beat Ephrata 63-61 in a 2A championship that featured 20-point leads for both teams.

“That was a really crazy game,” she recalled.

The two star athletes stayed in touch as Ridnour went to Oregon and Reome accepted a volleyball scholarship to Central Washington, where she became an All-American and got inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame last May. They eventually got married and now live with their five boys, ages 1-8, in Lynden, so they made the long drive to Yakima to support Lynden Christian in the first 1A boys semifinal.

Ridnour stays involved with basketball by sometimes helping coach his sons and he recently bought a court at the Whatcom County Fairgrounds. He occasionally trains a few Lynden Christian players, as well as Cashmere girls star Hailey Van Lith, and he also started a Special Olympics program.

SNEAK PREVIEW: When Zillah’s boys fell behind Freeman by 19 points in the third quarter but quickly rallied to within 59-57, Freeman junior Dylan Oja had seen it before.

“We watched film of their game against Selah,” Oja said. “We knew what they’re capable of.”

In a memorable nonleague game at Selah on Jan. 9, Zillah trailed the Vikings by 21 in the third quarter and came back to win 86-83.

“We had to keep pushing, keep the foot on the pedal,” said Oja, who scored three points in Freeman’s decisive 8-0 run in the final minutes. “We’ve got eight seniors and that’s a lot of experience. We needed that poise down the stretch.”


NEAR MISS: The Northwest School did everything it could to derail top-seeded Lynden Christian in Friday’s first boys semifinal, putting five players in double figures and hitting a dozen 3-pointers.

That included Isaiah Jeannot’s triple at the buzzer to tie the game at the end of regulation.

But ultimately there was just too much Cole Bajema, who scored six of his 27 points in the second overtime as the Lyncs finally subdued Northwest 73-69.

In two games here, LC’s 6-7 junior has scored 53 points on 18-for-31 shooting with 21 rebounds.

Bajema’s matchup with Freeman’s Michael Coumont will be the highlight of Saturday’s 1A championship game at 7 p.m.


SUNDOME REDEMPTION: Lynden Christian senior Avery Dykstra suffered disappointment on her last trip to the SunDome as the senior captain of the Lyncs’ volleyball team that fell to eventual champion King’s in the 1A semifinals. She enjoyed a little redemption on Friday, providing a team-high six assists in a 64-40 win over Medical Lake to send Lynden Christian to Saturday’s championship.

“It’s exciting,” Dykstra said. “Not every kid gets to come to state, so it’s cool that I get to have this experience for volleyball and basketball.”


TWO-SPORT STAR: Senior Demetrius Crosby, the SPSL 2A MVP who scored 23 points in Foss’ 53-50 semifinal setback to W.F. West on Friday, is looking at his future on the football field. The athletic defensive back visited Hawaii in November and also holds offers from Idaho, Montana State and Portland State with plans to make a decision near the end of March.