The Nooksack girls basketball team had just won the biggest game of their careers and accomplished what only one other team in school history has done.
Yet all they wanted to talk about was the next game.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Pioneers coach Shane Wichers after his team clobbered Cashmere in the Class 1A state semifinals, 60-38, on Friday night, March 4, at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
That’s because Saturday night will be the game every girls basketball fan in Whatcom County knew was coming — and was looking forward to: the third showdown between No.1 Lynden Christian and No.2 Nooksack Valley.
This time it won’t be for a league championship (the Pioneers won that one) or for a district championship (the Lyncs won that one). It’ll be for the state championship, something Nooksack Valley has never won.
Be sure to visit WhatcomHoops.com for stories and photos from the other state games.
“This team has been making history,” said Wichers of only the second Nooksack Vallery squad to reach the state title game (the other was in 1985). “Why stop now?”
There was no stopping the Pioneers on Friday as they raised their record to 21-3 by clobbering Cashmere.
OK, this was not the Hailey Van Lith Cashmere team that had made three of the past four state finals. But the Bulldogs were seeded third behind the two Whatcom County power and had an impressive 20-1 record.
And for a half, the game was competitive. In fact, Cashmere led, 19-16, with just under two minutes left in the second period.
But before you can say “it’s Valley time” … junior Hallie Kamphouse and sophomore Lainey Kimball hit 3-pointers, and sophomore Devin Coppinger made a three-point play, two free throws, and a jumper.
Just like that, Nooksack Valley had an eight-point lead at intermission, and Cashmere was starting to unravel. The Bulldogs hit a 3-pointer to draw within five a minute into the second half and then — KABOOM! — the Pioneers scored the next 16 points and it was all but over.
As she has all season, Coppinger was the engine that powered the Pioneer express. She had 24 points on offense and 5 steals on defense.
Kimball came off the bench to light a fire under her team and burned the Bulldogs for a couple of 3-pointers and 10 points, Kamphouse hit three 3s to account for her nine points, and sophomore Kaylee Anderson added 6 points.
Defensively, the Pioneers held Cashmere to its second-lowest point total of the season by forcing the Bulldogs into 21 turnovers.
“We got some stops starting at the end of the first half, rebounded, and got out to run,” said Wichers. “And when Devin gets running, whose going to stop her?”
Coppinger was quick to deflect the praise onto her teammates.
“Everybody stepped up,” she said. “Hallie kept Riley (Johnson, Cashmere’s top scorer) to six points, Ellie (Van Berkum) and Kaylee and all the bench were huge. And Lainey had a stellar game. She’s a firecracker and that’s just what we needed. That’s what I needed.”
The firecracker was ready to put her stellar game behind her and talk about Saturday’s game.
“It feels good to see LC at state,” said Kimball. “We wanted this matchup.”
Wichers was looking forward to it too.
“It’s been a great ride,” he said. “Our kids are playing great. So are theirs. It’s going to be a great game.”
Nooksack Valley 60, Cashmere 38
Cashmere 12 9 5 12—38
Nooksack Valley 12 17 18 13—60
Cashmere: Gennevieve Ledesma, Ella Burts 5, Riley Johnson 6, Maddie Hammond, Katilyn Bjorklund 7, Zoe Brown 4, Katie Piepel, Brianna Talley, Cameron Phillips 2 Ellie Bessonette 2, Leah Kunz 10, Allie McKenna 2.
Nooksack Valley: Lainey Kimball 10, Tehya Moore, Devin Coppinger 24, Hallie Kamphouse 9, McKenna Wichers 2, Ellie Van Berkum 5, Kaylee Anderson 6, Ella Perry, Taylor Lentz, Renae Hoekema, Tana Hoekema 4.
Class 1A state tournament
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2
Freeman 43, King’s 40 (loser out)
Colville 39, La Center 26 (loser out)
Zillah 57, Toppenish 41 (loser out)
Wapato 68, Seattle Academy 58 (loser out)
THURSDAY, MARCH 3
Montesano 40, Freeman 26
Lynden Christian 44, Colville 34
Cashmere 50, Zillah 45
Nooksack Valley 50, Wapato 37
FRIDAY, MARCH 4
Freeman 46, Colville 39 (loser out)
Wapato 54, Zillah 42 (loser out)
Lynden Christian 57, Montesano 32
Nooksack Valley 60, Cashmere 38
SATURDAY, MARCH 5
Freeman (17-6) vs. Wapato (21-5), 9:30 a.m. (winner fourth, loser sixth)
Montesano (21-2) vs. Cashmere (20-2), 1 p.m. (winner third, loser fifth)
Lynden Christian (21-4) vs. Nooksack Valley (21-3) 9 p.m. (winner first, loser second)