The Lummi Nation boys basketball team is going to find out quickly if it is ready to face the best of the Class 1B state tournament. That’s because the Blackhawks could be playing the best in their first game.
Seventh-seed Lummi Nation will get an early trip to Spokane when the Blackhawks take on Cusick in the state regionals at University High School on Saturday, Feb. 26, at noon.
Win or lose, both teams will be returning to Spokane the following weekend for the state tournament in the Spokane Arena. The winner of Saturday’s regional game will advance to Thursday’s state quarterfinals. The loser Saturday will play a loser-out contest on Wednesday.
Check out Whatcom Hoops for previews of the Class 1A boys and girls, and the Class 2A boys and girls state regionals.
The Panthers were the consensus No.1 team all season long as they won their first 19 games. But a two-point loss in the Northeast district finals to rival Almira-Coulee-Hartline left the Panthers (19-1) as the state’s second seed after the Warriors jumped to the top seed.
The Blackhawks (15-2) won’t be intimidated by flashy records, however. They had a 14-game winning streak themselves until stumbling in the District 1 semifinals, and in their last game, knocked off Crosspoint, another state qualifier that had won 16 of 17 during the season.
And while Cusick will be making its first state appearance since 2015, Lummi Nation has two starters and several reserves back from the 2020 state squad that placed fifth.
Here’s a look at Lummi Nation and the 1B boys state tournament:
LUMMI NATION BLACKHAWKS
Record: 15-2 (#7 seed)
Starters: Tobias Francis, G, So., 5-7; Duncan Toby, G, Sr., 6-0; Richard Wilson, F, Jr. 6-3; Tony Abrams, F, Fr., 6-1; Tyran Lane, C, Sr., 6-5.
Reserves: Jerome Toby, G, 8, 5-7; Mathias Johnson, G, So., 5-8; Adam Bello, G, Sr., 5-7; James Williams, F, Sr., 6-1 Desmond Bailey, F, So., 5-9; Frank Solomon, F, Jr., 5-10; Peyton Brockie, F, Jr., 5-8.
Team preview: Lummi Nation is led by its senior starters — post Tyran Lane and point guard Duncan Toby — but its top six are all capable of big nights. If Lane can continue to dominate the lane and the Blackhawks can continue to unleash their pressure fullcourt defense, this team can do even better than fifth place.
State outlook: There are no clear-cut favorites like the undefeated Odessa team in 2020 or the Sunnyside Christian powerhouses that took three straight state titles before that. All of the top eight teams have impressive records or impressive victories or both. One team to watch out for is fourth-seed Willapa Valley, which dropped down from Class 2B.
Coach Jerome Toby: “Our goal is to be healthy and focused all week as we prepare for a tough Cusick ball club. We know we are going to be in for a battle Saturday.”
CLASS 1B STATE REGIONALS
Saturday, Feb. 26
#10 Mount Vernon Christian (16-6) vs. #15 Riverside Christian (16-5) at Mount Vernon HS, 10 a.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#1 Almira-Coulee-Hartline (17-3) vs. #8 DeSales (19-4) at Eastmont HS, noon (both to state tournament)
#2 Cusick (19-1) vs. #7 Lummi Nation (15-2) at University HS, noon (both to state tournament)
#11 Naselle (13-8) vs. #14 Neah Bay (10-5) at Mark Morris HS, noon (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#9 Wellpinit (14-4) vs. #16 Orcas Island (10-9) at Central Valley HS, 2 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#12 Crosspoint (17-6) vs. #13 Oakville (16-7) at Mount Tahoma HS, 2 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#4 Willapa Valley (19-3) vs. #5 Sunnyside Christian (17-5) at W.F. West HS, 4 p.m. (both to state tournament)
#3 Northwest Yeshiva (16-2) vs. #6 Moses Lake Christian/Covenant Christian (21-2) at Bellevue CC, 8 p.m. (both to state tournament)
At Spokane Arena
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.