With his young team coming off a difficult loss, it might be tempting for Lummi Nation boys basketball coach Jerome Toby to reevaluate everything as the Blackhawks prepare for their biggest game of the season.
Then again, why mess with what’s worked all year?
“We’ve been successful with the way we’ve been playing,” said Toby as Lummi Nation prepared for its Wednesday showdown with Riverside Christian in the Class 1B state tournament in Spokane. “We’re going to just go out and be the Blackhawks.”
And being the Blackhawks means playing a pressing fullcourt defense, pushing the ball upcourt, and winning … a lot. Until Saturday’s loss to Yakama Nation Tribal School in the state regionals, Lummi Nation had won 20 games in a row and still owns an impressive 22-2 record.
For previews of the 1B state tournament and all the state tournaments involving our Whatcom County teams, be sure to keep checking www.whatcomhoops.com.
The loss, however, dropped the second-seeded Blackhawks into a loser-out game at 3:45 p.m. against the 11th-seeded Crusaders from Yakima, but it didn’t end Lummi’s dreams of a state trophy. The winner of Wednesday’s game will move into Thursday’s quarterfinals against Muckleshoot Tribal School.
But first the Blackhawks will need to take care of Riverside Christian. Here’s a look at both teams:
Riverside Christian scouting report: The Crusaders (17-5) struggled early in the season but have now won their last nine in a row, including a regional victory over Taholah. They are young with only one senior — shooting guard Reagan Haas — and have little state tradition having only qualified twice and never having won a state game.
Sophomore Justin Vickers at 6-3 is their big man inside and is capable of a double-double any night. Their strength is their defense; they’ve held eight of their last nine opponents under 42 points.
Lummi Nation scouting report: The Blackhawks are led by their veteran guard, junior Caleb Revey, who not only is their leading scorer but their emotional leader. Senior Jermaine Toby provides 3-point offense, freshman point guard Duncan Toby runs the show, and freshman center Tyran Lane and sophomore forward Ja’ie Leighton give Lummi an inside game. The Blackhawks may be young, but their pressure defense and fastbreak offense will keep them in every game.
Lummi Nation coach Jerome Toby: “For the young guys, this (the state tournament) is all a new learning experience that they went through. There are going to be tough moments, but they’ve responded. We’ll take it one step at a time. We believe in ourselves.”
Game outlook: Saturday was the first state experience for all but two of the Blackhawks, so it would be easy to use youth as an excuse. But Riverside Christian is just as inexperienced. And the truth is the young Blackhawks have played like veterans all year long, so there’s no reason to believe they won’t get back on track. Unless they make a lot of uncharacteristic turnovers, Lummi Nation should be moving on to Thursday’s quarterfinals.
CLASS 1B BOYS STATE TOURNAMENT
(With RPI seedings)
Regionals (Friday, Feb. 22)
#11 Riverside Christian 54, #14 Taholah 52
#7 Almira-Coulee-Hartline 60, #2 Odessa-Harrington 52
Regionals (Saturday, Feb. 23)
#6 Yakama Nation Tribal School 57, #3 Lummi Nation 48
#9 Garfield-Palouse 69, #16 Lopez 38 (loser out)
#1 Sunnyside Christian 57, #8 Naselle 39
#5 Muckleshoot Tribal 76, #4 Tulalip Heritage 65
#10 Neah Bay 80, #15 Pateros 58 (loser out)
#12 Oakesdale 51, #13 Concordia Christian Academy 41 (loser out)
At Spokane Arena
State play-in games (Wednesday, Feb. 27)
Lummi Nation (22-2) vs. Riverside Christian (17-5), 3:45 p.m. (loser out)
Odessa (22-2) vs. Neah Bay (16-6), 5:30 p.m. (loser out)
Tulalip Heritage (20-5) vs. Oakesdale (17-7), 7:15 p.m. (loser out)
Naselle (17-6) vs. Garfield-Palouse (17-8), 9 p.m. (loser out)
Quarterfinals (Thursday, Feb. 28)
Muckleshoot Tribal School (23-3) vs. winner of Lummi Nation vs. Riverside Christian, 3:45 p.m.
Sunnyside Christian (23-1) vs. winner of Odessa vs. Neah Bay, 5:30 p.m.
Yakama Nation Tribal (17-8) vs. winner of Tulalip Heritage vs. Oakesdale, 7:15 p.m.
Almira-Coulee-Hartline (19-4) vs. winner of Naselle vs. Garfield-Palouse, 9 p.m.
Consolation semifinals (Friday, March 1)
12:15 p.m. (loser out)
2 p.m. (loser out)
Semifinals (Friday, March 1)
Fourth-sixth place game (Saturday, March 2)
9:30 a.m. (winner fourth, loser sixth)
Consolation final (Saturday, March 2)
1 p.m. (winner third, loser fifth)
Championship game (Saturday, March 2)
5 p.m. (winner first, loser second)
(Full schedule and bracket at nwcathletics.com)
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.