Every Whatcom County basketball fan knows the names of our high school boys programs. There’s the old guard, schools that have been around for 60-plus years — Bellingham, Blaine, Ferndale, Lynden, Meridian, Mount Baker, and Nooksack Valley.
Then there are the “new-comers” who have been added as our county has grown — Lynden Christian (1961), Sehome (1966), Squalicum (1998) and Lummi Nation (2004).
But what about the high schools that played basketball in Whatcom County before 1958, schools that no longer exist, at least with the same name?
Here they are, ranked by their boy’s basketball success (and remember: there wasn’t any varsity girl basketball until the 1970s).
1. Whatcom High School: The city of Bellingham was incorporated in 1903 by combining the towns of Bellingham, Sehome, Whatcom and Fairhaven. Up until then, each town had its own school. The combined Bellingham High School soon became a state power, claiming the unofficial Western Washington championship in 1909 and the state championship in 1910 and 1912. But in 1914, the school split back into Whatcom and Fairhaven high schools. Briefly called North Side High, Whatcom found success once the official state tournament began in 1923. The Redskins qualified for state six times, placing fourth in 1925, sixth in 1931, and eighth in 1934. They also qualified but did not earn a trophy in 1930, 1932 and 1935. Whatcom and Fairhaven reunited in 1936 to make the new Bellingham High. The old Whatcom High School is now Whatcom Middle School.
2. Fairhaven High School: Originally South Side High after Bellingham High split in 1914, Fairhaven had its own run of state success. The Grizzlies brought home eighth-place trophies in 1926 and 1930 (when their two losses were by one point each) and qualified in 1934 but lost their only two games and did not place. The school would burn down in the infamous New Year’s Eve fire of 1935, and was rebuilt on the same site to become what is now Fairhaven Middle School. In 1936, Fairhaven would rejoin Whatcom to again become Bellingham High School
3. Sumas-Nooksack High School: Originally two different schools, Sumas High and Nooksack High played against each other and the other smaller county schools until the two combined in 1930. As Sumas-Nooksack, the Pioneers qualified for the Class B state tournament in 1932 but lost both games. In 1941, the school was renamed Nooksack Valley and would qualify once for the big-school tournament (Class AAA) in 1949 before beginning its incredible run of Class A success in the 1960s and 1970s.
4. Harmony High School: The boys of Harmony High would never reach the state tournament because there wasn’t one until 1923, the same year Harmony became Mount Baker. However, the Mountaineers (or Mounties) would find success even in the big school tournament, placing fifth in 1931 and fourth in 1932 and then having another great run by qualifying for state in 1946 and ’47 and placing sixth in 1948. And, of course, the Mounties secured a place in county history by winning the 1958 Class A state title, our county’s first basketball state championship.
5. Laurel High School: The boys of Laurel High were playing basketball by 1912 and within six years would became Meridian High School. Their first state appearance would have to wait for the 1977 Class A state tournament and their first state trophy would be 20 years later when the Trojans took eighth in 1997.