YAKIMA — Chris Gibson put it simply enough — Lynden High School is tough, physical and strong.
The Lions got out to an early lead and never let it go on Thursday night at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
Lynden opened up the score in the third quarter and coasted to a 64-42 win over White River to advance to the Class 2A state semifinals.
“They punched us in the face and we didn’t respond,” Gibson said. “Their physicality, we’re not used to that where we’re at. We’re just not used to that kind of basketball.
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“Give them credit, the Northwest (Conference) up there, they play that way. They’re tough.”
Lynden came out firing on all cylinders.
The Lions shot 43.3 percent from the floor and 46.7 percent from the 3-point line to bury the Hornets.
“I thought the way they shot the ball got us on our heels a little bit,” Gibson said.
Elisa Kooimen scored a game-high 16 points for Lynden, which had four players in double figures.
Jasmyne Neria — who was 3 of 4 from beyond the perimeter — added 12 points. Sierra Smith pitched in 11 and Faith Dut, a 6-foot-4 sophomore forward, had 10 points and eight rebounds.
“They’ve got a good shot at moving on, no doubt,” Gibson said.
Meanwhile, White River struggled to piece together its offense, finishing 30.2 percent from the floor — though the Hornets did hit six 3-pointers.
Lynden’s physicality sent White River star Kendall Bird to the bench multiple times in foul trouble. She picked up her fourth foul less than three minutes into the second half.
With Bird on the bench, the Hornets tend to become more disjointed.
“The plan gets blown up, honestly,” Gibson said. “Other kids have to step up. We’ve got to make shots.
“I thought their physicality took us out of what we wanted to do offensively.”
Lee Audrey Norris finished with a team-high 12 points for White River. Bird still contributed 10 and eight rebounds despite playing only 18 minutes.
“We didn’t play well,” Gibson said. “My best players have to play well. … We’ve got kids that work hard and get after it, but once it started going downhill, it’s tough.”
White River (24-3) plays Archbishop Murphy (19-5) in a loser-out game at 2 p.m. Friday.
Gibson said, historically, the Hornets have bounced back well after drawing tough teams — like Mark Morris twice during its prime — in its opening game.
“They have to decide what they want to do,” he said. “Do they want to be done (Friday), or do they want to get up and go?
“We’ve been here before, and been very successful at bouncing back. … Our kids have a lot of character. I trust them. We’ll wrap up strong and give it our best shot.”
Lynden 12 19 22 11_64
White River 9 11 10 12_42
L – Neria 12, Smith 11, Kooiman 16, VanderHaak 6, Amos 2, Zwiers 4, Dut 10, Hershey 3
WR – Rasmussen 6, G. Lavinder 3, Bird 10, S. Lavinder 4, Narolski 3, Robbins 4, Norris 12