The Lummi Nation boys basketball team knew what it was like to play top-ranked teams and lose close games. But enough is enough.
The seventh-seeded Blackhawks “upset” fourth-seed Willapa Valley in an exciting, come-from-behind 65-59 victory in a loser-out game at the Class 1B state tournament Friday morning, March 4, at the Spokane Arena.
With the victory, Lummi Nation improved to 17-4 and guaranteed itself a trophy. The Blackhawks wind up their tournament on Saturday at 8 a.m., when they take on sixth-seed Moses Lake Christian/Covenant Christian (23-3). The winner will take fourth place, the loser sixth.
Be sure to visit WhatcomHoops.com for stories and photos from the other state games.
“The game was a battle and the boys stepped up today,” said Lummi Nation coach Jerome Toby. “They rebounded from a tough loss to Almira-Coulee-Hartline (Thursday’s quarterfinals).”
After losing to the top three 1B teams during the playoffs — all by eight points or less — the Blackhawks found themselves down by three to the Vikings (20-5) going into the final period.
But Lummi clamped down on defense, only allowing the Vikings 10 points in the fourth quarter. And with the game — and the season — on the line, the Blackhawks won it at the line, sinking their free throws and pulling out the victory.
As always, this group of Blackhawks was led by its two all-star seniors.
Point guard Duncan Toby led Lummi Nation with 22 points and made his bid for a triple-double with 10 rebounds and 5 assists. Post Tyran Lane had his usual double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds, and he added 4 blocks for good measure.
“The senior boys didn’t want to go home (with the loss) and stepped up to make sure the Blackhawks brought home a trophy to Lummi Nation,” said coach Toby.
Eighth-grade sensation Jerome Toby Jr., who led the Blackhawks in scoring in their first two state games, had an off-shooting night from the field, but even in the biggest game of his still-young career, he made 9 of 10 free throws.
In fact, the Blackhawks proved the free throw can be mightier than the 3-pointer — at least in this game.
While Lummi Nation was a chilly 3 of 18 from the 3-point line, they were 24 of 29 from the free-throw line. The Vikings, meanwhile, made 11 from beyond the arch, but only cashed in on 6 of 9 free throws.
Jerome Toby finished with 12 points, and freshman Tony Abrams pitched in with 7 rebounds.
Guard Riley Pearson did the most damage for Willapa Valley with 29 points and 9 3-pointers. The junior guard and his teammates, however, were eliminated Friday.
Willapa Valley does have one claim to fame and it came way back in 1936.
The school from Menlo, which was then known as Valley High, remains the only “small” school (think Class 1B to 1A) to win the Washington boys basketball state tournament when it was open to all schools and always won by big schools (think Class 4A and 3A).
Lummi Nation 65, Willapa Valley 59
Willapa Valley 14 18 17 10—59
Lummi Nation 15 23 8 19—65
Willapa Valley: Kolten Fluke 8, Tyler Adkins 5, Riley Pearson 29, Gavin Hampton 4, Derek Fluke 3, Wil Clements, Grady Christen 8, Garrett 2.
Lummi Nation: Jerome Toby 12, Tobias Francis 4, Duncan Toby 22, Desmond Bailey 2, Richard Wilson, Tony Abrams 3, Tyran Lane 20, Mathias Johnson 2, Adam Bello, James Williams, Frank Solomon.
Class 1B state tournament
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2
Northwest Yeshiva 60, Naselle 48 (loser out)
Lummi Nation 69, Mount Vernon Christian 27 (loser out)
Sunnyside Christian 59, Crosspoint 49 (loser out)
DeSales 75, Wellpinit 53 (loser out)
THURSDAY, MARCH 3
Northwest Yeshiva 50, Willapa Valley 40
Almira-Coulee-Hartline 52, Lummi Nation 44
Sunnyside Christian 39, Moses Lake Christian/Covenant Christian 36
Cusick 74, DeSales 65
FRIDAY, MARCH 4
Lummi Nation 65, Willapa Valley 59 (loser out)
Moses Lake Christian/Covenant Christian 55, DeSales 41 (loser out)
Almira-Coulee-Hartline (19-3) vs. Northwest Yeshiva (18-3), 2 p.m.
Sunnyside Christian (19-6) vs. Cusick (21-1), 5:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, MARCH 5
Lummi Nation (17-4) vs. Moses Lake Christian/Covenant Christian (23-3), 8 a.m. (winner fourth, loser sixth)
Consolation final, 11:15 a.m. (winner third, loser fifth)
Championship final, 7 p.m. (winner first, loser second)