Six times in the past seven Class 1A girls basketball state tournaments a Whatcom County team has reached the state championship game. Five times, our teams have claimed the state title.
While history doesn’t win you games at state, don’t count out Lynden Christian and Nooksack Valley, which will head to the Yakima next week as the top two seeds.
But before they reach the SunDome, the Lyncs and Pioneers will open state play in the regional round on Saturday, Feb. 26, in the familiar confines of Mount Vernon High School.
Check out Whatcom Hoops for previews of the Class 1B, Class 1A boys, and Class 2A boys and girls state regionals.
No.2 seed Nooksack Valley will start the action against No.7 Colville in a 2 p.m. contest, and No.1 seed Lynden Christian will square off with No.8 Seattle Academy at 6 p.m.
All four teams are guaranteed spots in the state tournament in Yakima, but the winners will advance to next Thursday’s quarterfinals and the losers will have to play loser-out games on Wednesday.
And for those checking the record books (or the WIAA website), it’s been 31 years since the Lyncs defeated Lynden for the 1A state title in 1991, the only time two Whatcom County girls team have played each other in the championship game.
Here’s a look at both our teams and the 1A girls state tournament:
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN LYNCS
Record: 18-4 (#1 seed)
Starters: Libby Stump, G., Sr., 5-9; Demi Dykstra, G, Jr., 5-8; Lexi Kaptein, F, Sr., 5-11; Charley Dykstra, G, Sr., 5-8; Reganne Arnold, F, Jr., 5-11.
Reserves: Taryn Herwerden, F, Jr., 5-9; Alexie Hagen, G, Jr., 5-6; Katrin Fay, G, Jr., 5-5; Daisy Poag, G, Jr., 5-7; Grace Hintz, G, Fr., 5-8; Andi Anderson, G, Fr., 5-9; Alli Van Kooten, F, Sr., 6-0.
Team preview: The Lyncs play one of the toughest schedules in the state with one purpose — to prepare them for the playoffs. They needed that experience since Stump is the only player with competitive state playing time although both Dykstras and Kaptein also were on the 2020 state championship team. Stump is a legitimate all-stater and freshman Hintz has been a big surprise, but the Lyncs are built around athleticism, teamwork and depth. It will take all that, however, to replace injured senior post Alli Van Kooten, the team’s top inside player.
State outlook: Because of its history and record, Lynden Christian will be a favorite along with Nooksack Valley, Cashmere, and Montesano. But this is an entirely new Lyncs team with five new starters and little experience under the bright lights of the SunDome. Still, there’s nobody in the tournament better than the teams LC has already played, so don’t be surprised if it comes down to a third battle with rival Nooksack Valley for the gold ball.
Coach Brady Bomber: “We are excited to be back playing in the state tournament. Our team has worked hard to reach this point. We hope to enjoy every moment together.”
NOOKSACK VALLEY PIONEERS
Record: 18-3 (#2 seed)
Starters: Tehya Moore, G, Sr., 5-3; Devin Coppinger, G, So., 5-10; Hallie Kamphouse, G, Jr., 5-9; McKenna Wichers, P/G, Sr., 5-10; Taylor Lentz, P, 6-0; Jr.
Reserves: Lainey Kimball, G/P, So., 5-10; Ellie Van Berkum, G, Sr., 5-5; Renae Hoekema, G/P, Sr., 5-8; Tana Hoekma, P, So., 6-0; Kaylee Anderson, G, So., 5-8; Ella Perry, P, Jr., 5-11.
Team preview: Nooksack Valley has been preparing for this moment ever since last year when the Pioneers only lost one game but because of COVID were unable to compete in any playoffs. Super sophomore Coppinger gets the publicity, and rightfully so as one of the best players in the state, but this is not a one-girl team. They have strong post players in Wichers and Lentz, one of the top 3-point shooters in the league in Kamphouse, quickness with Moore, and a strong bench.
State outlook: The Pioneers have been either No.1 or No.2 all year and will share the favorite role with rival Lynden Christian. Nothing is guaranteed at state, and once-beaten Montesano and Cashmere lead a group of contenders with impressive resumes. But no teams have faced the competition that the Pioneers and Lyncs have — Nooksack’s three losses were to the No.1 teams in 2B, 1A, and 2A — and it could come down to the two of them playing Saturday night.
Coach Shane Wichers: “Our goal every game is to play our best as a team and not have any regrets while living in the moment. The girls are focused and understand what a great opportunity it is to be playing right now. They understand that the best team on the court that day will win, and they want to be that team. They all understand that you can’t overlook anyone and have to take it one game at a time.”
CLASS 1A STATE REGIONALS
Friday, Feb. 25
#10 Annie Wright (16-2) vs. #15 La Center (15-7) at Mount Tahoma HS, 6 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#12 Tenino (17-6) vs. #13 Toppenish (16-7) at W.F. West HS, 6 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#3 Cashmere (18-1) vs. #6 Freeman (15-4) at Wenatchee HS, 8 p.m. (both to state tournament)
#9 Wapato (18-4) vs. #16 Overlake (11-10) at Davis HS, 8 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#11 King’s (16-8) vs. #14 Bellevue Christian (15-7) at Jackson HS, 8 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
Saturday, Feb. 26
#2 Nooksack Valley (18-3) vs. #7 Colville (16-3) at Mount Vernon HS, 2 p.m. (both to state tournament)
#4 Montesano (19-1) vs. #5 Zillah (16-3) at W.F. West HS, 2 p.m. (both to state tournament)
#1 Lynden Christian (18-4) vs. #8 Seattle Academy (18-3) at Mount Vernon HS, 6 p.m. (both to state tournament)
At Yakima SunDome
Wednesday-Saturday, March 2-5
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.