The Lummi Nation girls basketball team is going to the Class 1B state tournament thanks to a career game by Alayla Solomon.
The junior center had a career-high 24 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to lead the Lady Blackhawks to an exciting 46-42 victory over Tacoma Baptist and a fifth-place finish in the 1B Tri-District 1/2/3 tournament on Saturday, Feb. 22, at Mount Vernon Christian High School.
Next up for Lummi Nation (16-9) is the regional round of the state playoffs. The 19th-ranked Blackhawks will probably be on the road either Friday or next Saturday, Feb. 29. The regional schedule will be finalized and released sometime Sunday.
Saturday, however, was all about celebrating the team’s return to state for the first time since 2012. That and Solomon’s big game.
“Alayla Solomon had a huge game,” said Lummi Nation coach Michael Wade. “She’s been a bright spot on the defensive glass all year. She puts in work every day, and it’s really starting to show. I’m so happy to see her have success.”
And what a time to have it.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, Solomon grabbed an offensive rebound and layed up two points to put the Blackhawks ahead for the first time since early in the game. After the Crusaders hit a foul shot to tie it at 39, Solomon answered with another basket on her next trip down the court.
“This game mattered a lot; not just to me, but to my team,” Solomon said. “We were fighting this whole game. We never gave up.”
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Lummi Nation kept the lead for the rest of the game, hitting their foul shots in the final minutes to hold off 14th-ranked Tacoma Baptist (18-6). But it wasn’t until the final 30 seconds that Solomon and the Blackhawks knew they were going to state.
“It was not a pretty basketball game,” Wade said. “We ended up with 38 turnovers, but they (the Blackhawks) fought through and continued to find a way. And that’s in them. We’re not coaching that out of them. They’re fighting. I’m just so proud of these girls.”
Solomon’s sister, freshman guard Raven Solomon, contributed 9 points in the low-scoring contest. The Crusaders, who were eliminated with the loss, were led by the 24 points of Jersey McGehee.
While all the girls were excited about qualifying for state, no one could have appreciated this win more than Lummi Nation’s sole senior, Ashtin McElderry.
“I’m excited (to go to state), and so proud of these girls,” said McElderry. “They’ve done a lot for their freshman, sophomore and junior years. I’m a proud senior.”
Lummi Nation 46, Tacoma Baptist 42
Tacoma Baptist 14 9 9 10—46
Lummi Nation 10 11 8 17—42
Tacoma Baptist: Emara Henderson 5, Mikayla Stephenson, Meleah Jones 2, Addy Norman, Katie Tonsager 4, Marisa Greenwood, Josie Settle 5, Hannah Berry, Jersey McGehee 24, Stephanie Stone, Savannah McDaniel, Ella Berry.
Lummi Nation: Aliesha Solomon 3, Raven Solomon 9, Rian Greene 2, Shaylynn Jojola 2, Keyonee Morris, Ashtin McElderry 4, Shandeara Julius, Keyonee Morris, Serena Pantalia, Vanessa Bearpaw, Alayla Solomon 24.
CLASS 1B TRI-DISTRICT 1/2/3
Saturday, Feb. 15
Lummi Nation 54, Quilcene 33 (loser out)
Clallam Bay 59, Cedar Park Christian (Mountlake Terrace) 35 (loser out)
Puget Sound Advent 44, Grace Academy 39 (loser out)
Tulalip Heritage 57, Rainier Christian 45(loser out)
Tuesday, Feb. 18
Muckleshoot Tribal School 45, Lummi Nation 41
Clallam Bay 60, Tacoma Baptist 46
Mount Vernon Christian 43, Puget Sound Advent 30
Neah Bay 60, Tulalip Heritage 30
Thursday, Feb. 20
Tacoma Baptist 35, Puget Sound Advent 31 (loser out)
Lummi Nation 45, Tulalip Heritage 40 (loser out)
Mount Vernon Christian 58, Clallam Bay 50
Neah Bay 71, Muckleshoot Tribal School 25
Saturday, Feb. 22
Lummi Nation 46, Tacoma Baptist 42 (winner fifth, to regionals; loser out)
Clallam Bay 47, Muckleshoot Tribal School 30 (winner third, loser fourth; both to regionals)
Neah Bay 73, Mount Vernon Christian 31 (winner first, loser second; both to regionals)
Kelli Terpsma is a recent graduate of Western Washington University and former Whatcom County athlete who is interning with Whatcom Hoops this winter. Look for her on the sidelines and don’t be afraid to say, “Hi!”