First-year Tahoma boys basketball coach Brian Davis knows how good the Lynden program is from his four years as an assistant at Squalicum.
Davis made sure his players were aware of how good it is, too.
Tahoma forced the top-ranked Lions into their first loss since Feb. 14 last season as the Bears rallied behind Coleman Wooten’s 21 points and 13 rebounds for a 57-43 victory Saturday at the ShoWare Center.
“I have a ton of respect for coach (Brian) Roper and the whole Lynden program after having to coach against them for four years,” Davis said. “That is a darn good team, and a good win for us against a great program.”
“Coach prepared us really well,” Wooten said. “He knows their system pretty well, so it was a good matchup for us.”
Lynden’s last loss came in a Northwest Conference game against, coincidentally, Squalicum last season. The Lions since went on to win the Class 2A State Championship and held the top ranking and a 12-game winning streak that started last season.
But the Bears (5-2) bothered Lynden (6-1) with their length inside – with 6-foot-5 Wooten and 6-foot-11 Paul Loranger. Lynden shot 29 percent from the floor compared to Tahoma’s 54 percent and was outrebounded 40-26.
“I think anytime you have a team like Lynden you have to make them work for their shots,” Davis said. “We really focused on stopping their inside game, forcing them into tough shots and controlling the boards.”
Lynden trailed 27-18 at halftime, but Tahoma pulled away in the third quarter when it held the Lions to five points, taking an 18-point lead into the final period.
Lynden’s only player to score in double figures was Josh Kraght, who finished with 11.
“I didn’t think it was possible for us to shoot that poorly and be that inefficient offensively,” Roper said. “Tahoma is a good team, but at some point we needed to hit some shots.
“We were exposed tonight on some areas we need to improve on. We just weren’t sharp.”
The Lions came in averaging 62 points per game but were held to a season-low 43 in their first game against a team from outside the 2A-level.
“It’s tough for us since we aren’t used to losing,” Lynden’s Dak Shagren said. “But it’s good for us to get out here and play these good, physical teams to get us ready for postseason and for stretches in our league when we start playing some of the better teams.”
Lynden found some rhythm and made it interesting in the fourth quarter when Shagren hit a pair of 3-pointers on consecutive possessions and Zach Vis added another to cut Tahoma’s lead to 12 with a minute and a half to play.
Wooten put the game away with a basket and some free throws down the stretch to secure the Bears’ third straight win since suffering back-to-back losses against Mount Rainier and Kent-Meridian this month.
DeShon Williams, who came in averaging 16 points a game, scored all 10 of his points in the second half to go with seven rebounds. Ethan McCormack added 10 points.
Tahoma, after, earning a statement victory against a team that hadn’t lost in more than 10 months, now turns to the South Puget Sound League, looking to make what splashes it can.
“This is an exciting, big win for us and gets us back on track,” Wooten said. “I think the sky is the limit for us and what we can do this year with the depth and pieces we have.
“Lynden was a really enjoyable test for us. It’s a good confidence boost to get a win like this.”
MOUNT RAINIER 52, WHITE RIVER 37
Brittany McPhee had 22 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, powering the Rams to a victory over White River.
McPhee, last season’s Washington Girls Basketball Gatorade Player of the Year, faced different looks from the White River defense throughout the game, including 2-3 zone, man-to-man and box-and-one.
“No matter what you do, you can’t really guard her,” said White River coach Chris Gibson. “We tried to focus our efforts on her, but you really have to be aware of where their other kids are, especially since she does a really good job of passing the ball.
White River (7-1) came into the game as the top-ranked 2A team .
But the Hornets hadn’t played a team like Mount Rainier (10-0) – ranked No. 2 in 4A – or a player like McPhee, who was averaging 29.2 points per game.
“Brittany is always tough to stop, no matter what defense you have,” said Mount Rainer coach Bob Bolam. “They held her for a while, but that should happen against a tough team. They should be tough on us and make us use other options.”
Two of those options were Aqueelah Williams and Emily Fiso. Williams scored a season-best 14 points and Fiso added 10.
Mount Rainier had trouble figuring out White River’s defense, but the Rams found a groove late in the first quarter with two straight baskets from Williams before McPhee hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to go into the second quarter up 18-8.
The run didn’t stop. Mount Rainier outscored the Hornets 11-2 from the end of the first quarter until midway through the second to push its lead to 19 points. The Rams went into halftime with more points (29) than White River had allowed to any of its previous five opponents in entire games.
But, slowly, White River worked its way back and cut the lead to 41-34 following a 3-pointer from Amanda Lance with about four minutes to go in the game.
“I think we just got out of sync,” Bolam said. “We were standing around and weren’t really focused on what we were doing.”
The Rams clamped down on the defensive end and outscored White River 11-3 the rest of the way to secure the win.
Though the Hornets didn’t knock off one of the top-ranked teams in the state, they showed how dominant their defense can be, becoming the first team to hold Mount Rainier to fewer than 63 points in a game this season.
“I know they looked at it as a learning experience to play us from 4A, but they are better than a lot of teams we have seen so far,” Bolam said. “It was a learning experience for us, too.”