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Canales scores 32 as Lynden survives late LC push

Lions earn yearly bragging rights with 61-56 road win

By Connor J. Benintendi Sports Editor

LYNDEN — Senior Anthony Canales scored Lynden’s last 10 points and the Lions outlasted Lynden Christian, 61-56, on Saturday, Feb. 3 in front of a raucous, rivalry-charged crowd at Lynden Christian High School.

Canales, who finished with a game-high 32 points and pulled down seven rebounds, broke a 51-51 tie with around three minutes remaining in the game on a pull-up 3-pointer from the top of the arc.

Two possessions later, the 6-foot-4 guard threw down his second two-handed dunk of the game to give Lynden (17-4, 14-1 Northwest Conference) a 58-51 advantage, and LC (19-2, 13-2 NWC) was unable to crawl out of a deepening deficit. Canales scored 24 of Lynden’s 31 total points in the second half.

“When I get going, I just feel like I can hit every shot,” Canales said. “I can make big plays when my team needs them, and it just pushes me.”

Lynden head coach Brian Roper complimented his senior leader’s mental toughness in a game that the entire Lynden community has circled on its calendar each year. After losing to LC on their home floor last season, Canales and the Lions made a statement.

Lynden’s Anthony Canales holds up three fingers after sinking a 3-pointer. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

“He’s been in a lot of big games in his career,” Roper said, “and he’s a competitive kid who puts sweat in the bucket. So, we want the ball in his hands in those moments, and he delivered.”

LC was led by 23 points from junior guard Gannon Dykstra, while senior forward Jeremiah Wright (14 points) and senior guard Dawson Bouma (13) also scored in double figures.

Lyncs head coach Tim Zylstra said the difference was Lynden’s ability to win the rebounding battle and get on top of loose balls — a frequent occurrence as the game heated up.

“We knew it was going to come down to the wire,” Zylstra said. “They beat us on the glass. When we did get stops, they were sometimes getting second and third [chances] because they pursued it harder and just outworked us.”


A close first quarter gave way to Lynden’s offensive attack late in the period, as the Lions built up a 16-9 lead before heading into the second quarter leading 18-12.

Lynden Christian’s Gannon Dykstra sinks a wide-open 3-pointer. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

With under three minutes remaining in the first half, a combination of Canales, senior guard Charlie Ayres and junior forward Brant Heppner helped Lynden rebuild a 10-point lead at 27-17. The Lions took a 30-22 advantage into halftime.

Ayres made his money from behind the arc, finishing the game with nine points on three 3-pointers.

The second half was all Canales on Lynden’s side, while Bouma and Dykstra began to find a rhythm for LC. The Lyncs narrowed the deficit to 46-41 entering the fourth quarter, aided by Dykstra’s four 3-pointers.

“LC is a tough matchup with the two bigs inside and those dynamic guards,” Roper said. “I just felt like we were able to weather some of the runs — we knew they would go on them.”

Weather the runs they did. Wright galvanized the Lyncs with an and-one with 5:30 remaining in the game, making it 51-47, and two possessions later Bouma tied the game at 51-51.

Lynden’s Brady Elsner falls backwards while Lynden Christian’s Gannon Dykstra tries for a block. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

Canales then took over, and LC fouled to try and extend the game. Attempted miracle 3-pointers also didn’t fall, and Lynden ran out the clock.

“They made us work, you know, got to tip our cap to them,” Zylstra said. “They played how they had to play.”

Both teams will now head to their respective district tournaments. LC is the top seed into the 1A District 1 tournament, which begins Monday, Feb. 5. The Lyncs will face the winner of No. 5 Mount Baker and No. 4 Blaine at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 7 on their home court.

Lynden is also the No. 1 seed in the 2A District 1 tournament, which also begins Feb. 5. The Lions will play the winner of No. 9 Sedro-Woolley and No. 8 Burlington-Edison at 7 p.m. on Feb. 7 at Lynden High School.

Connor J. Benintendi is CDN’s sports editor; reach him at connorbenintendi@cascadiadaily.com; 360-922-3090 ext. 104.

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