The Sehome boys concluded a great day of basketball for four Whatcom County teams and the Mariners provided the best ending … in two ways.
First of all, Northwest Conference rivals Sehome and Lakewood had one of the most exciting games that went down to the last second in the last game of the night.
Second, the Mariners won the Class 2A opening-round, loser-out contest, 42-40, giving the county one victory in the three games in the Yakima SunDome on Wednesday, March 2. (Lummi Nation gave the county its other triumph in the Class 1B boys state tourney in Spokane.)
Best of all for Sehome, the victory not only improved its season record to 16-7 but it puts the Mariners into the quarterfinals and one step closer to earning the Gold Ball state championship trophy. It also guarantees them at least two more games and needing only one more victory to trophy.
Standing in Sehome’s way is arch-nemesis Lynden. The eighth-seeded Mariners will square off with the second-seeded Lions in Thursday’s nightcap at 9 p.m. with the winner advancing to the semifinals and earning a top-five trophy.
For more of Will Rice’s great photos from state, visit sehomeathletics.com or VVNPhotos.com.
Wednesday’s game was a defensive struggle and was close throughout.
“Our guys followed our defensive game plan extremely well, and we were able to get big stops when we needed them,” said Sehome coach Skyler Gillispie.
The biggest stops came at the end.
Clinging to a one-point lead with less than a minute to go, the Mariners got a short jumper from junior Mathew Storms and a free throw from junior Grey Garrison to make it a four-point game. But the Cougars’ Blake Conyers hit his fifth 3-pointer of the game with 15 seconds left.
Gavin Ortega then hit another free throw to make the cushion a slim two points with 10 seconds left. Lakewood managed to fire up two 3-point attempts in those final 10 seconds but both only hit iron, and Sehome had held on and moved on.
Storms led Sehome with 14 points, Garrison had 13 points, and Ortega added 9 points.
With both teams shooting under 40 percent from the field, rebounds were key and the Mariners dominated the boards, 37-27. Juniors Grant Kepley and Isaac Lawrence had 10 rebounds each, Ortega had 6, and Garrison had 5.
“It was one of Grey’s better performances,” praised Gillispie. “He and Gavin were anchors for us in the paint when shots weren’t falling.”
Lakewood, which because of a COVID cancellation didn’t play Sehome during the regular season, finished its season at 15-7. Conyers finished with a game-high 25 points.
“It’s too bad we had to play Lakewood in a loser-out game,” said Gillispie. “We have nothing but respect for their team It was a hard-fought game that should make the NWC proud.”
Sehome 42, Lakewood 40
Lakewood 8 7 12 13—40
Sehome 9 12 8 13—42
Lakewood: Andrew Molloy 6, Justice Taylor 7, Evan Stacey, Mason Weller, Blake Conyers 25, Ben Rucker, Dillon Willson 2.
Sehome: Isaac Lawrence 3, Grey Garrison 13, Mathew Storms 14, Gavin Ortega 9, Dane Dominguez, Grant Kepley 3.
Class 2A boys state tournament
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2
Prosser 72, White River 67 (loser out)
Port Angeles 63, Franklin Pierce (18-6), 5:30 p.m. (loser out)
Tumwater 66, Grandview 47 (loser out)
Sehome 42, Lakewood 40 (loser out)
THURSDAY, MARCH 3
Prosser (15-10) vs. Pullman (21-2), 3:45 p.m.
Port Angeles (19-6) vs. North Kitsap (22-3), 5:30 p.m.
Tumwater (20-5) vs. R.A. Long (20-2), 7:15 p.m.
Sehome (16-7) vs. Lynden (20-2), 9 p.m.
FRIDAY, MARCH 4
Consolation game, 12:15 p.m. (loser out)
Consolation game, 2 p.m. (loser out)
SATURDAY, MARCH 5
Consolation game, 9:30 a.m. (winner fourth, loser sixth)
Consolation final, 1 p.m. (winner third, loser fifth)
Championship game, 3 p.m. (winner first, loser second)
Jim Carberry is a former Bellingham Herald sports editor and author of several books on Whatcom County prep basketball. Follow him on Twitter @whatcomhoops and visit the Whatcom Hoops Facebook page.