It’s been their dream all season, and now it has come true.
The Lummi Nation Lady Blackhawks earned their first trip in eight years to the Class 1B girls basketball state tournament in Spokane after rallying to defeat the Columbia Adventist Kodiaks in tregionals, 59-38, on Saturday, Feb. 29, at Mount Vernon High School.
“Our girls just fought,” said Lummi Nation coach Michael Wade. “We constantly use resiliency as a rallying cry for our team, and they (the Blackhawks) showed it tonight. I couldn’t be more proud of them. To see their excitement and joy for each other on the bench was incredible.”
Lummi Nation (17-9) will play Wednesday, March 4, at 3:45 p.m. against third-seed Oakesdale, which lost to Yakama Nation Tribal in the regionals Saturday.
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With a career-high 20 points, freshman guard Aliesha Solomon helped rally the Blackhawks from a 10-point first-quarter deficit, draining four 3-pointers and four 2-pointers by the end of the night.
“At first, when we were losing, I was a little worried,” Solomon said. “But I got my head out of there. The first quarter, we were tired from sitting around, but then we started to play how we usually play.”
Ashtin McElderry, who is the Blackhawks’ only senior, said the boost in energy during the 21-point second quarter was in part due to their coach.
“Our coach yelled at us, and he never yells at us,” said McElderry. “So we were like, ‘Oh, he’s serious.’ We’ve got to get serious.”
Kicking up their defense with a full-court press and half-court traps, the Blackhawks stole the ball time and time again to earn a number of fastbreak layups that helped build their lead.
But it was a team effort that secured the win for the Blackhawks.
“Ashtin (McElderry) struggled early and then found her rhythm and when she did, she took off,” Wade said in reference to the senior’s 9 points in the second quarter.
“She was the catalyst, but there were three bench players that came in — Vanessa Bearpaw, Serena Pantalia, and Shaylynn Jojola — who all played a big part in that six-minute run.”
McElderry finished with 11 points overall, Pantalia had 9, and Jojola put up 4. Another freshman guard, Raven Solomon, also added 6 for the Blackhawks.
And with so many young players in the game, Wade relied on Aliesha Solomon to keep everyone grounded.
“Solomon ran the offense with the younger folks out on the floor in the fourth quarter and continued to be aggressive,” Wade said. “Hopefully, we’ll see that build into Spokane.”
Of the trip to Spokane, McElderry said, “It happened so fast. I’m just really excited. We worked hard.”
Lummi Nation 59, Columbia Adventist 38
Columbia Adventist 12 4 12 10—38
Lummi Nation 6 21 20 12—59
Columbia Adventist: Ryle Strubelt 3, Brenna Sherrill 4, Tatum Darbin 1, Maddie Dietrich 18, Emma Heinrich 5, Leah Pearson 2 Victoria Westcott 2, Lauren Wegner 3.
Lummi Nation: Aliesha Solomon 20, Raven Solomon 6, Rian Greene, Shaylynn Jojola 4, Aiyona Morris 2, Ashtin McElderry 11, Shandeara Julius 2, Serena Pantalia 9, Vanessa Bearpaw, Alayla Solomon 1, Keyonne Morris 2.
CLASS 1B GIRLS STATE TOURNAMENT
Friday, Feb. 28
Clallam Bay 57, Riverside Christian 51 (loser out)
Nacelle 43, Muckleshoot Tribal School 39 (loser out)
Saturday, Feb. 29
Neah Bay 52, Mount Vernon Christian 44
Pomeroy 61, Wellpinit 39
Yakama Nation Tribal 51, Oakesdale 33
Moses Lake Christian Academy/Covenant Christian 46, Taholah 43 (loser out)
Inchelium 30, Curlew 20
Lummi Nation 59, Columbia Adventist 38 (loser out)