YAKIMA — Because the Cashmere and Lynden Christian boys basketball teams played each other on Dec. 27, it seemed clear that the team that could make better adjustments for the squads’ Thursday rematch in a 1A Hardwood Classic quarterfinal contest at the Yakima Valley SunDome would be the team that would prevail.
In the end, it was equally apparent that the Lyncs were able to make the changes that they needed to make, and the Bulldogs weren’t.
Cashmere was dubbed by some as the hottest team entering the round of eight based on its four convincing loser-out victories that earned it a second straight trip to the SunDome. However, Lynden Christian — the defending 1A champions — entered the game playing well also; the Lyncs had won six straight games, including victories over Seattle Academy and King’s, two squads that also advanced to the state quarterfinals.
The Bulldogs kept up with Lynden Christian early, but watched the Lyncs steadily pull away in the second half to post a 60-51 victory.
“(Lynden Christian) had a great defensive effort,” Cashmere coach Keith Boyd said. “At the same time, our kids never quit. They really battled. We kept getting some (small) runs here and there, but couldn’t catch up.”
Later in the evening, the Okanogan boys lost to Toledo 58-43. Both Bulldogs squads will play loser-out games today — Cashmere will play Granger, and Okanogan will play Seattle Academy.
Lynden Christian 60, Cashmere 51
In the teams’ December contest, a 71-68 Lyncs win, Cashmere point guard Dylan Boyd was perhaps the best player on the floor, scoring 23 points. Therefore, Lynden Christian knew coming into Thursday’s game that it had to find a way to shut him down.
The Lyncs threw a variety of box-and-one and diamond defenses at Boyd, and as a result the Caribou Trail League player of the year scored just four points on 1-of-14 shooting.
“The first time we played them, we had no idea how quick Boyd was,” said Lynden Christian forward Isaac Reimer. “This time, we knew his tendencies. We wanted to force him to go right — he doesn’t like to go to his right. We put some big, long bodies on him.”
The Lyncs opened up a 27-12 lead in the second quarter and never really let the Bulldogs back into the game; Cashmere got to within six points in the third quarter, but Lynden Christian held the advantage and sealed the victory by converting 17 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Reimer, last year’s 1A state tournament most valuable player, scored 18 points, and hit seven free throws during the game’s final 90 seconds.
“He took over the game,” said Lyncs coach Roger DeBoer. “We wanted to get the ball into his hands. He did a great job down the stretch and hit some big free throws for us.”
Cashmere out-rebounded Lynden Christian 38-34, but shot just 26 percent from the field and struggled to get consistent inside offense against a tall, physical Lyncs front line.
Jordan Christiansen led the Bulldogs with 19 points, but Coleman McElroy — who tallied 17 points on Dec. 27 — scored just eight Thursday and fouled out early in the fourth quarter.
“They didn’t make anything easy for us,” Keith Boyd said. “They ran some junk defenses to take Dylan out of the game. We just struggled to get good looks at the basket.”
Toledo 58, Okanogan 43
Justin Rivas jumped over the press table and crashed into a guard rail chasing after a loose ball late in the fourth quarter, then was taken out of the game. The Bulldogs were down by 20 at that point, and Rivas slumped into his seat and buried his head in a towel.
Rivas did everything he could do to ensure an Okanogan victory, but the Indians simply proved to be too tough for a young Bulldogs squad to overcome.
Up 42-38 entering the fourth quarter, Toledo went on on a dominating 16-0 run to pull away.
“We slowed down and didn’t get back on defense,” said Rivas, who tallied 23 points, 20 coming the first half. “(Toledo) was the most aggressive team we played all season, and we let them play their game. We had a lot of nerves. We knew coming in that (the Indians) were a tough team.”
Toledo totally shut down Okanogan’s potent inside game — Justin VanderWeide and Jim Townsend scored a combined seven points on a combined six shots.
“When you try to play as individuals, that doesn’t work at this level. Nobody’s good enough,” said Bulldogs coach Mike Carlquist. “We didn’t attack when we had opportunities in the first half, and in the second half we couldn’t get the ball into our posts.”
Toledo shot 47 percent from the field, out-rebounded Okanogan by eight and had four players score in double figures, led by Brennan Rakoz’s 16.
“In the second half, they couldn’t penetrate, and we controlled the boards,” said Toledo coach Scott Merzoian. “When we have our inside game working with our outside game, we believe we can play with anybody with the weapons we have.”