1A District: Nooksack Girls, LC Teams Roll; Meridian Boys Advance 

The heavy favorites rolled in three of the four Class 1A District 1 semifinals, but the fourth semi provided not only the most excitement but a little bit of an upset.

The No.1 ranked and defending state champion Nooksack Valley girls outmuscled Meridian, 83-32; the seventh-ranked Lynden Christian girls overpowered Blaine, 74-21; and the second-ranked and two-time defending state champion Lynden Christian boys swept past Mount Baker, 78-35, on Wednesday night, Feb. 7.

In the other semifinal, the Meridian boys avenged an earlier loss to Nooksack Valley by beating the Pioneers, 67-62.

NEXT UP THURSDAY: Lummi Nation will host the Class 1B district championship games with the Lady Blackhawks taking on Mount Vernon Christian at 6:45 p.m. and the Lummi boys meeting Tulalip Heritage at 8:30 p.m. The 2A girls quarterfinals will see Sedro-Woolley at Lynden at 6 p.m. and Squalicum at Sehome at 7 p.m. In the 3A tourney, Ferndale will host Monroe in a first-round contest at 7 p.m. For all the action, check out Whatcom Hoops.

The Nooksack Valley and Lynden Christian girls will continue their rivalry when they square off in the district championship game Saturday at 4:45 p.m. with a state berth going to the winner. Meridian and Blaine will play a loser-out consolation game Saturday at 1:45 p.m..

In the boys championship game, Lynden Christian will take on Meridian at 3:30 p.m., again with a state berth at stake. Nooksack Valley and Mount Baker will meet in the consolation game at noon.

All four games will be played at Lynden High School.

Here are the results from Wednesday night’s playoff action:

Whatcom Hoops February-8-2024
The Pioneers can only watch as Meridian’s Cohen Fuller runs out the clock.


Lyncs’ Defense Stifles Mount Baker, 78-35 

What started as a shootout with the teams putting up 41 points in the first quarter turned into a blowout when the Lynden Christian defense held Mount Baker to 21 points in the final three quarters of the 78-35 victory.

“It’s about energy and effort,” said Lynden Christian coach Tim Zylstra, whose team improved to 20-2. “We’re just trying to get better each game.”

The Lyncs had the better of the Mounties mainly by dominating inside. Senior posts Jeremiah Wright and Kayden Stuit had 20 and 16 points, respectively, and helped hold Mount Baker’s talented freshman center, Kell Reardon, to 2 points.

Senior Dawson Bouma added 17 points and five 3-pointers for the Lyncs and junior Gannon Dykstra had 16 points and four 3s.

“LC is a well-oiled machine,” said Mount Baker coach Tony Clark, whose squad fell to 4-18. “We learned a lot from a really good team. But our guys were still diving on the floor and still battling to the end. That’s all you ask.”

Junior Darius Gilstrap led Mount Baker with 13 points and a pair of 3-pointers, sophomore Carter Hall had 7 points, and junior Christopher Armbright had 6 points.

Lynden Christian 78, Mount Baker 35

Mount Baker            14         6         9         6—35

Lynden Christian      27       22       20       17—78

Mount Baker: Smith 2, Bailey 2, Bruland, Ross 3, Lukes, Abitia, Hill 7, Armbright 6, Scott, Reardon 2, Gilstrap 13.

Lynden Christian: Hintz 5, Bouma 17, Maberry, Dykstra 16, Blair 2, Howell, Veldman, Bosman, Wright 20, Stuit 16, Bouwman 2.

Meridian Avenges Earlier Loss, Beats Nooksack, 67-62 

Three weeks ago in the same gym, Nooksack Valley defeated the visiting Trojans by 12 points, which was a big reason the Pioneers earned the second seed and relegated Meridian to the third seed. But this time Meridian was ready.

Matching the Pioneers physicality, Meridian took an early lead and then held off every Nooksack Valley comeback to win the semifinal, 67-62.

“That failure we had up here was quite a blessing,” said Meridian coach Shane Stacy, whose team improved to 11-10.

Making the biggest turnaround was Meridian guard Talon Jenkins, who was held to 4 points because of foul trouble in the earlier meeting. This time the junior fired in 25 points, including four 3-pointers.

The Trojans also got a big lift from their bench, particularly senior guard Jacob Amundson, who scored 12 points on four 3-pointers.

“We know he can do what he did tonight,” said Stacy. “It was nice to see it come to fruition. It’s important to keep them (the reserves) going this time of year.”

“Their role players stepped up and did a great job,” said Nooksack Valley coach Jason Heutink, whose team fell to 11-11 on the year.

Joining Jenkins and Amundson in double figures for Meridian were junior Jaeger Fyfe with 12 points and senior Taran Burks with 10.

The Pioneers were led by junior Brady Ackerman with 12 points. Sophomore Cole Coppinger had 11 points, senior Wayne Silves and junior Colton Lentz had 9 points each, junior Cory Olney had 8 points, and junior Caden Heutink had 7 points.

Despite the loss, Heutink was far from discouraged especially since the Pioneers can still clinch a state berth with two victories.

“The playoff system is crazy,” he said. “But we’ll be ready for Baker.”

Meridian 67, Nooksack Valley 62

Meridian                    23       14       14       16—67

Nooksack Valley       19       15       13       15—62

Meridian: Jenkins 24, Fuller 2, Fyfe 12, Amundson 12, Short, James, Burks 10, Clawson 4, Brzozowski, Hedahl 3.

Nooksack Valley: Coppinger 11, Olney 8, Lentz 9, Heutink 7, Brown 3, Silves 9, D. Ackerman 3, B. Ackerman. 12


Monday, Feb. 5

Play-in game

Mount Baker 65, Blaine 54 (loser out)

Wednesday, Feb. 7


Meridian  67, Nooksack Valley 62

Lynden Christian 78, Mount Baker 35

Saturday, Feb. 10

At Lynden High

Consolation round

Nooksack Valley vs. Mount Baker, noon (loser out)

Championship game

Lynden Christian vs. Meridian, 3:30 p.m. (winner to state)

Friday, Feb. 16

At Lynden High

Consolation final

5:30 p.m. (winner to state, loser out)


Pioneers Dominate Smaller Trojans, 83-32

Nooksack Valley took advantage of its height and strength to dominate the Trojans, 83-32, and win the semifinal contest before a boisterous home crowd.

The Pioneers broke away from a 5-all tie and used a 16-2 run to get rolling. Holding the Trojans to three points in the third quarter put the lead over 40 and got the running clock started.

“We’re still looking at getting better,” said Nooksack Valley coach Shane Wichers, whose squad improved to 22-1. “We know we can’t play the perfect game, but we’re trying to get as close to that standard. I don’t think we’ve peaked yet.”

Maybe not, but Nooksack Valley looked ready for another playoff run. The Pioneers made 36 of 65 field goals attempts and pulled down 33 rebounds, 21 on the offensive end. 

Not surprisingly, the Nooksack seniors shined in their final home game. All-state guard Devin Coppinger had 25 points, two 3-pointers, and 8 rebounds; post Tana Hoekema had 15 points and 12 rebounds; wing Lainey Kimball had 13 points, 6 assists, 5 steals, and 5 rebounds; and guard Kaylee Anderson had 8 points including a pair of 3s.

The Pioneers also got a spark from a trio of sophomores off the bench. Post Grace DeHoog had 8 points, and guards Payton Bartl and Chayleigh Davis had 6 points each.

While the score wasn’t close, both coach agreed that it wasn’t because of the lack of effort by Meridian. Despite giving up 3 to 6 inches at every position and only having seven players because their two senior posts suffered season-ending injuries earlier, the Trojans scrapped until the end, only being outscored 8-6 in the fourth period.

“We showed a lot of heart and could have given up,” said Meridian coach Bree Joy, whose 6-16 squad still has a shot at reaching state. “Nooksack is a juggernaut. But we still have an opportunity to play. If we play with the same heart, we’ll be happy.”

If there was an award for toughness, it would have to go to 5-foot-4 guard Brooklyn Fuller. Despite being hounded by the 5-10 Coppinger and being taken out after a nasty collision in the third quarter, the Meridian junior not only returned minutes later but led the team with 12 points.

“When you think she’s down for the count, she’ll get back up,” said Joy. “She’ll give her heart and soul.”

Freshman Eden Bernardy added 9 points for the Trojans and senior Malia McCauley had 5 points.

“They never give up,” said Wichers of the Trojans. “They only had seven kids and are super young. They could have folded but they scrapped to the last second. That’s a testament to what Bree and (assistant coach) Chris Scrimsher are doing there.”

Nooksack Valley 83, Meridian 32

Meridian                  12       11         3       6—32

Nooksack Valley     27       23       25       8—83

Meridian: Fuller 12, McCauley 5, Bernardy 9, Neal, K. Storgaard 2, Swanson, Benson 4.

Nooksack Valley: Kimball 13, Shintaffer, Bartl 6, Davis 6, Parson, Burke, Coppinger 25, Hoekema 15, Anderson 8, Dykstra 2, DeHoog 8.

Lyncs Too Much For Hurting Borderites, 74-21

Blaine knew it was the heavy underdog to perennial state power Lynden Christian, but the Borderites’ task turned from improbable to impossible when leading scorer Jordyn Vezzetti went out with an injury early in the game.

After that the Lyncs’ defense shut down the Borderites in winning, 74-21.

Eleven Lyncs got in the scoring column led by junior Danya Dykstra, who had 16 points. Ten of her points and both her 3-pointers came in the second quarter when LC outscored Mount Baker, 25-6, to go up by 30 at the half.

Junior Grace Hintz and sophomore Ella Fritts had 9 points each for Lynden Christian, junior Allison Shumate and freshman Jocelyn Eshuis had 8 points each, sophomore Estela Hernandez had 7 points, and senior Tabby DeJong had 6 points in her last home game.

Bomber complimented the Borderites on their effort in the face of adversity. “Blaine did a good job keeping us off balance with their defense especially early,” he said. “After Vezzetti got hurt … that made it hard for Blaine. She’s a good player.”

Senior Deja Dube finished with 10 points and two 3-pointers to lead Blaine, and her freshman sister, Teia Dube, had 5 points. Vezzetti wound up with 4 points before leaving the game. 

Lynden Christian 74, Blaine 21

Blaine                       4         6         5         6—21

Lynden Christian    15       25       24       10—74

Blaine: Ritter Von Trautmann, Vezzetti 4, Berkeley 2, Ball, Bring, D. Dube 10, Berentzen, T. Dube 5.

Lynden Christian: Dykstra 16, Tveter 4, Hernandez 7, Fritts 9, Hintz 9, Russell 3, DeJong 6, Yun 1, Van Loo 3, Shumate 8, Eshuis 8.


Monday, Feb. 5

Play-in game

Meridian 38, Mount Baker 25 (loser out)

Wednesday, Feb. 7


Lynden Christian 74, Blaine 21

Nooksack Valley 83, Meridian 32

Saturday, Feb. 10

At Lynden High

Consolation round

Blaine vs. Meridian, 1:45 p.m. (loser out)

Championship game

Nooksack Valley vs. Lynden Christian, 4:45 p.m. (winner to state regionals)

Friday, Feb. 16

At Lynden High

Consolation final

7:15 p.m. (winner to state regionals, loser out)

Jim Carberry of Whatcom Hoops

Jim Carberry is a former Bellingham Herald sports editor and author of several books on Whatcom County prep basketball. Follow him on Twitter @whatcomhoops and visit the Whatcom Hoops Facebook page.

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