Lummi Nation might be Whatcom County’s smallest school, but when it comes to state tradition, its boys basketball team looms large.
The Blackhawks will get a chance to add to that legacy on Saturday, Feb. 25, at 4 p.m. when sixth-seeded Lummi Nation takes on third-seeded DeSales in a Class 1B state regional at Richland High School.
Win or lose, both teams will be headed to the Spokane Arena the following weekend for the state tournament. The winner of Saturday’s regional game will advance to the state quarterfinals on Thursday, March 2, at 7:15 p.m. The loser Saturday will play a loser-out contest on Wednesday, March 1, at 3:45 p.m.
Check out Whatcom Hoops for previews of the Class 1A boys, 1A girls, 2A boys, and 2A girls state regionals.
Playing in Spokane has been a habit for the Blackhawks. Last year, they placed fourth at state losing only to the two finalists, and in 2020 they were one shot away from reaching the championship game for the third time in the past eight tournaments.
Since reaching state for the first time in 2006, Lummi Nation has now made 13 appearances, earned five trophies, won a state title in 2015 and finished second in 2017.
“We have some boys that have seen the tradition and want to carry that on,” said coach Jerome Toby, who has been the constant during Lummi Nation’s success. “We’ve had some growing pains during the season that have forced us to grow up, but the guys are eager to step up.”
Having graduating two four-year starters and a strong senior class, it appeared this would be a rebuilding year. A four-game losing streak, seven total losses, and a second-place finish in the Northwest 1B League might have confirmed that.
But the losses were to 1B or 2B teams headed to state and to much larger 1A Nooksack Valley, all of which toughened the Blackhawks for a playoff run. They won seven of their last eight games and claimed the District 1/2/3 tournament championship.
Leading the way is senior forward Richard Wilson, who has become the scoring leader who can take over a game. Freshman point guard Jerome Toby Jr. is a steady influence on both offense and defense and can light it up from outside as can junior guard Tobias Francis.
“Our team is really jelling and peaking at the right time,” said coach Toby. “The boys still believe in themselves.”
Here’s a look at Lummi Nation and the 1B boys state tournament:
LUMMI NATION BLACKHAWKS
Record: 19-7 (#6 seed)
Starters: Tobias Francis, G, Jr., 5-7; Jerome Toby, G, Fr., 5-7; Richard Wilson, F, Sr. 6-2; Mathias Johnson, G, Jr., 5-8; Desmond Bailey, F, Sr., 5-9.
Reserves: Tony Abrams, F, So., 6-1; Frank Solomon, F, Sr., 5-10; Peyton Brockie, F, Sr., 5-9; Tracy Powell, C, Fr., 6-3; Raymond Perkins, G, Fr., 5-10, Landon Day, G, Jr., 5-11; Payton Scott, F, Sr., 6-0; Dyson Edwards, G, 8, 5-9.
Team preview: Lummi Nation has already exceeded expectations and a top-eight seeding is a compliment to what Toby and his staff have accomplished this year. But the Blackhawks have a tough road ahead — literally — having to travel all the way to Richland to face a 21-2 Irish squad from Walla Walla.
State outlook: There are no heavy favorites although 22-1 Wellpinit and DeSales come in with a glossy records and second-seeded Sunnyside Christian comes in with eight Class 1B state titles on its resume, including three in the past five tournaments. That also means any of the top 12 teams could be playing Saturday for trophies.
Coach Jerome Toby: “We feel like it’s a wide-open tournament this year. It’s anybody’s gold ball (the first-place trophy). We like our team. They’re not just happy to make it (to Spokane). They’re hungry for more.”
CLASS 1B BOYS
Tuesday, Feb. 21
#16 Orcas Island 63, #17 Inchelium 42 (winner to second round, loser out)
#15 Pomeroy 69, #18 Muckleshoot Tribal 62 (winner to second round, loser out)
#19 Columbia Adventist 52, #14 Summit Classical Christian 49 (winner to second round, loser out)
#13 Riverside Christian 71, #20 Mary Walker 58(winner to second round, loser out)
Saturday, Feb. 26
#1 Wellpinit (22-1) vs. #8 Oakville (17-4) at Cheney High, 2 p.m. (both to state tournament)
#2 Sunnyside Christian (19-4) vs. #7 Cusick (19-4) at Richland High, 2 p.m. (both to state tournament)
#3 DeSales (21-2) vs. #6 Lummi Nation (19-7) at Richland High, 4 p.m. (both to state tournament)
#4 Willapa Valley (18-5) vs. #5 Moses Lake Christian/Covenant Christian(18-3) at Tumwater High, 4 p.m.(both to state tournament)
Orcas Island (20-9) vs. #9 Neah Bay (14-6) at Tacoma CC, 6 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
Pomeroy (16-7) vs. #10 Mount Vernon Christian (20-6) at Mount Vernon High, noon (winner to state tournament, loser out)
Columbia Adventist (16-9) vs. #11 Mossyrock (18-6) at WF West High, 8 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
Riverside Christian (16-4) vs. #12 Sound Christian Academy (21-4) at Tacoma CC, 10 a.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
At Spokane Arena
Wednesday-Saturday, March 1-4