The Sehome and Lynden boys basketball teams became the first Whatcom County squads to qualify for state, and afterward, they only had one thing on their minds.
The Mariners and Lions toughed out victories in the Class 2A District 1 semifinals on Monday, Feb. 14, and will square off for the district title Friday night at Mount Vernon High School.
“We want Lynden,” said Sehome junior Grant Kepley after the second-seeded Mariners’ 72-56 victory over third-seed Burlington-Edison.
“We want to win every game,” said Lynden sophomore Anthony Canales after the top-seeded Lions’ victory over fourth-seed Lakewood. “And Sehome is in our way.”
Squalicum made it a 3-for-3 night for Whatcom County and kept its state dreams alive with a 70-68 overtime victory over Anacortes.
Here’s a look at Monday’s playoff action involving our Class 2A teams.
Sehome Strikes Early, Holds Off Burlington
The Mariners jumped out to a 20-4 first-quarter lead only to see the Tigers claw back to within seven early in the fourth quarter. But just when it looked like Burlington might steal the momentum, Isaac Lawrence came up big.
The Sehome junior hit two straight corner 3s and when senior Gavin Ortega added an inside bucket, the Mariners’ lead was back up to 15 with just over six minutes left.
Sehome then made 10 of 13 free throws in the final quarter to seal the deal and make reservations for the Class 2A state tournament for the first time since 2015.
“We got lucky to get hot early,” said Sehome coach Skyler Gillispie, whose squad raised its record to 15-5. “In the fourth quarter, I told them to play to win. And they really turned it on. It was a good team win.”
Lawrence was Mr. Offense off the bench, hitting six 3-pointers including four in the fourth quarter when he had half of Sehome 28 points. He finished with 20 points to lead the Mariners.
“When he’s open in the corner, I don’t even bother going in for the rebound,” said Kepley, who had 15 points himself.
Junior Mathew Storms had 17 points, including a clutch 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the final period; Ortega, the team’s only senior, had 11 points; and junior Grey Garrison added 9 points.
And even though almost none of the Mariners had playoff experience before this week, reaching state never seemed out of their reach, according to Lawrence.
“It was our goal from the first day,” he said. “This is what we’ve worked for every day. And now it’s on to the next game. We’re not done.”
After Friday’s district championship game against Lynden, Sehome will play in one of the state regionals on either Feb. 25 or 26. Depending on their state RPI ranking and the outcome of the regional games, they could make it to the Yakima SunDome for the state tournament, which runs March 2-5.
Burlington-Edison, which fell to 12-7, was led by Connor Anderson’s 22 points. The Tigers must win two consolation games to reach the state regionals.
Sehome 72, Burlington-Edison 56
Burlington-Edison 7 14 14 21—56
Sehome 20 11 13 28—72
Burlington-Edison: Connor Anderson 22, Blaine Granberg 10, Zach Watson 11, Rex Wilson 2, Bennett Howe 11, Clayton O’Larey, Iver Light.
Sehome: Isaac Lawrence 20, Grey Garrison 9, Austin McKay, Mathew Storms 17, Gavin Ortega 11, Dane Dominguez, Grant Kepley 15.
Lynden Passes Test, Knocks Off Lakewood
Things did not look good for the Lions with three minutes left in the third quarter. The double-digit lead they’d held since the first period was whittled down to three and Lakewood had the ball. To make matters worse, Lynden’s top two scorers were on the bench with four fouls.
For another team, it might have been panic time. For the top-ranked and proud Lions, it was their time.
“We’ve really focused on how we deal with adversity,” said junior Coston Parcher. “We want to have positive attitudes and come together.”
Parcher hit a 3-pointer and put in a rebound to help the Lions build the lead back to nine by the end of the third period. Canales and senior Dawson Adams took it from there, with the sophomore scoring 8 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter and Adams hitting two big 3-pointers in the final period.
“One of the hardest things in basketball is to lose a big lead and come back,” said Lynden coach Brian Roper, whose team raised its record to 18-2. “It was an emotional game and it’s not easy to stay positive. But we’ve got competitive guys, and we stayed the course.”
Adams finished with a team-high 18 points on six 3-pointers, senior Kaleo Jandoc added 8 points, Parcher had 7 points and 4 assists; and senior Jordan Medcalf, despite the foul trouble, had 6 points and 8 rebounds. Canales helped the Lions to a 41-22 edge on the boards with 9 rebounds.
Lynden had trouble stopping the Cougars’ top two scorers — Blake Conyers had 21 points and Justice Taylor had 16 — but they stopped everyone else. The rest of the Lakewood team only managed three made free throws. Lakewood, which fell to 12-6, will now have to go through the consolation bracket to reach state.
But for Lynden, it’s back to normal. Not including last year, when the state playoffs were canceled because of the pandemic, the Lions have now qualified for state 10 years in a row and placed in the top three at state nine of those years.
“It feels great,” said Roper. “But we never take it for granted. Most high school players never get to go to state. So we are humble and grateful.”
Like Sehome, Lynden will play in one of the state regionals on either Feb. 25 or 26. Depending on their state RPI ranking and the outcome of the regional games, they could make it to the Yakima SunDome for the state tournament, which runs March 2-5.
Lynden 57, Lakewood 41
Lakewood 10 12 11 8—41
Lynden 21 9 12 15—57
Lakewood: Andrew Molloy 3, Owen Rucker, Justice Taylor 16, Ben Rucker, Evan Stacey, Mason Weller 1, Blake Conyers 21.
Lynden: Kaleo Jandoc 8, Coston Parcher 7, Jordan Medcalf 6, Max Moore, Trey Smiley 2, Dawson Adams 18, Anthony Canales 14, Kobe Baar 2.
3-Point Storm Gives Squalicum OT Win
The Storm used its offense to storm back with a 21-point fourth quarter and send the game into overtime. Then Squalicum used its defense to hold Anacortes to four points in the extra period and earn the upset victory in the loser-out consolation game.
After trailing by 16 in the first quarter, Squalicum cut the margin to four in the final minute of regulation. Senior Leyton Smithson’s 3-pointer made it a one-point deficit and, after a Storm steal, Smithson hit a free throw to tie the game and send it into overtime.
Smithson and junior Ashton Engelhart led the Squalicum attack with 28 and 25 points, respectively, and each hit two 3s during the fourth-quarter comeback and one 3-pointer each in OT. Smithson finished with six 3-pointers and Engelhart had seven as the Storm hit 14 for the game.
The eighth-seeded Storm (8-12) will have to win a consolation game against Burlington-Edison on Wednesday and then the consolation final on Feb. 18. The Wednesday consolation games have changed venues and will now be played at Lynden High School because of a scheduling conflict at Mount Vernon.
The loss ended the season for fifth-seed Anacortes (9-9), which had beaten Squalicum by 19 points just two weeks ago.
Squalicum 70, Anacortes 68
Squalicum 9 20 14 21 6—70
Anacortes 23 14 11 16 4—68
Squalicum: Leyton Smithson 28, Kaleb Hawkinson, Dylan Jacobs 2, Nick Watt, Trevor Keeley 3, Kai Posey, Reed Richardson 4, Ashton Engelhart 25, Kyle Heaton 4, Peter Albert 4.
Anacortes: Braden Thomas 11, Eli Hankey 2, Jase Frydenlund 10, John-Fritz Von Hagel 19, Connor Barton 5, Gabe Eilertsen, Jacob Hayes 12, Brady Beamer 9.
CLASS 2A DISTRICT 1 TOURNAMENT
Wednesday, Feb. 9
#7 Cedarcrest 49, #10 Sedro-Woolley 46 (loser out)
#8 Squalicum 39, #9 Bellingham 38 (loser out)
Friday, Feb. 11
#2 Sehome 75, Cedarcrest 49
#3 Burlington-Edison 79, #6 Archbishop Murphy 69
#4 Lakewood 61, #5 Anacortes 50
#1 Lynden 64, Squalicum 50
Monday, Feb. 14
Squalicum 70, Anacortes 68 OT (loser out)
Archbishop Murphy 69, Cedarcrest 59 (loser out)
At Mount Vernon
Sehome 72, Burlington-Edison 56
Lynden 57, Lakewood 41
Wednesday, Feb. 16
At Mount Vernon
Archbishop Murphy vs. Lakewood, 5:30 p.m. (loser out)
Squalicum vs. Burlington-Edison, 7:15 p.m. (loser out)
Friday, Feb. 18
At Mount Vernon
Consolation games winners, 5:30 p.m. (winner to state regionals, loser out)
Lynden vs. Sehome, 7:15 p.m. (both to state regionals)