With only one senior, it’s not surprising the Lummi Nation girls basketball team is playing its best at the end of the season. What’s surprising is that with six sophomores, freshmen and, yes, even eighth-graders, the Lady Blackhawks ended up in the Class 1B state tournament.
The 11th-seed Lummi Nation girls (16-9) accomplished their mission of returning to state for the first time since 2012, and will start with a regional-round game against 14th-seed Columbia Adventist Academy (10-9) on Saturday, Feb. 29, at 8 p.m. at Mount Vernon High School.
“We’re young, but even our ninth-graders had experience playing last year, and that’s paid dividends this year,” said first-year Lummi Nation coach Michael Wade, whose squad qualified by placing fifth in the Tri-District 1/2/3 tournament last week. “They weren’t overwhelmed by the big moments.”
The Solomon sisters — junior center Alayla and freshman guard Raven — have provided the biggest moments for the Blackhawks, especially during Lummi Nation’s playoff run.
But the team’s strength is its pressing defense and deep bench.
“We know we’re going to wear teams down,” said Wade. “We want to apply pressure defense the entire game. Our defensive identity is finally starting to really click.”
As young as the Blackhawks are, they won’t be the youngest team on the court Saturday. Columbia Adventist Academy from Battle Ground has only one senior and one junior on the team, and the Kodiaks will be looking to earn a state trophy for the first time in school history.
Saturday’s game is a loser-out contest. The winner will advance to the Spokane Arena and play on Wednesday, March 4, at 3:45 p.m. against the loser of the regional game between No.3 Oakesdale and No.6 Yakama Nation Tribal.
“We won’t be overmatched physically,” said Wade of Saturday’s matchup. “It’s all about doing our job. We feel we can shock some people and win a game or two.”
LUMMI NATION LADY BLACKHAWKS
State seeding: #11, No.5 seed out of Tri-District 1/2/3
Starters: Aliesha Solomon, G, Fr., 5-6; Ashtin McElderry, G, Sr., 5-5; Rian Greene, G, Jr., 5-4; Raven Solomon, G, Fr., 5-9; Alayla Solomon, C, Jr., 5-9.
Reserves: Shaylynn Jojola, G, Jr., 5-4; Aiyona Morris, G, So., 5-3; Shandeara Julius, C, Jr., 6-0; Keyonee Morris, G, 8G, 5-2; Serena Pantalia, F, 8G, 5-5; Vanessa BearPaw, F, Fr., 5-6.
CLASS 1B GIRLS STATE TOURNAMENT
Friday, Feb. 28
#9 Clallam Bay vs. #16 Riverside Christian, 6 p.m., at Mount Tahoma HS in Tacoma
#10 Muckleshoot Tribal School vs. #15 Naselle, 6 p.m., at Auburn Mountainside
Saturday, Feb. 29
#4 Neah Bay vs. #5 Mount Vernon Christian, noon, at Mount Tahoma HS in Tacoma
#1 Pomeroy vs. #8 Wellpinit, 2 p.m., at Richland
#3 Oakesdale vs. #6 Yakama Nation Tribal, 2 p.m., at West Valley (Spokane)
#12 Moses Lake Christian Academy/Covenant Christian vs. #13 Taholah, 2 p.m., at Big Bend CC in Moses Lake
#2 Inchelium vs. #7 Curlew, 8 p.m., at West Valley (Spokane)
#11 Lummi Nation vs. #14 Columbia Adventist, 8 p.m., at Mount Vernon