Baker Boys, Meridian Girls Move Into Semis; Squalicum Boys Fall In OT

They are called play-in games and for the Mount Baker boys and Meridian girls, victories in the opening round of their Class 1A district tournaments on Monday, Feb. 5, means the Mounties and Trojans will be playing in the semifinals.

Unfortunately, they also are loser-out games, which means that the Blaine boys and Mount Baker girls had their seasons come to an abrupt end on Monday night.

And while any ending is hard, you can’t help but feel for the Squalicum boys, who had a comeback for the ages only to lose in overtime, 55-52, to Archbishop Murphy in the Class 2A play-in round Monday. With the loss, the Storm also wrapped up its season.

NEXT UP TUESDAY: The Class 1B district tournaments continue and the 2A girls and 3A boys open their district play. Lummi Nation hosts the 1B semifinals with the Lummi boys playing Orcas Island at 5 p.m. and the Lady Blackhawks playing Darrington at 6:30 p.m. Meanwhile, the Bellingham girls are at Lakewood in a 2A district play-in game at 7 p.m.  For all the action, check out Whatcom Hoops.

Meanwhile, the Baker boys and Meridian girls will move on to the double-elimination part of the 1A district tourneys. The road will not get easier as both will hit the road to face the top seeds — the Lynden Christian boys and the Nooksack Valley girls on Wednesday.

Here are the results from Monday’s games:

2A Boys: Storm Rallies From 23 Down, Loses Heart-Breaker, 55-52

When you’re down by 23 points going into the fourth quarter, it’s time to pack up the equipment and start getting ready for next season. But not for the gutsy Squalicum boys.

After a frigid three quarters that saw the Storm only score 21 points, their shooters — and especially junior Fabian Singh — started to warm up. With Singh sinking three 3-pointers and 12 points, Squalicum outscored Archbishop Murphy, 25-2, in the fourth quarter.

And it was Singh who hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

But there would be no joy in the Squalicum gym as the Wildcats outscored the Storm, 9-6, in the extra period to eliminate the Storm, 55-52. 

“We were down 44-21 going into the fourth quarter but finished on a 23-1 run,” said Squalicum coach Tyler Hannigan. “We went into a 2-3 zone and got a lot of our points in transition along with four 3s. We just couldn’t pull it out in OT.”

Singh would lead the Storm with 16 points, all coming in the fourth period and overtime. Junior Marcus Nixon and freshman Hunter Calloway added 13 points each for Squalicum. 

With the loss, the seventh-seeded Storm finish the season at 9-12. But if there is any team looking forward to next season, it is Squalicum since the Storm will not be graduating any seniors.

Tenth-seeded Archbishop Murphy will advance to play Cedarcrest in the quarterfinals. In Monday’s other play-in contest, Burlington-Edison edged Sedro-Woolley, 66-64. The Tigers will now move on to play top seed Lynden in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Archbishop Murphy 55, Squalicum 52

Archbishop Murphy        11      14      19        2       9—55          

Squalicum                        4       10        7       25       6—52

Archbishop Murphy: Belleza, Usui 9, Ir. Smith 11, Blanchard 4, Blackwell, Sears 17, Schnarre 8, Rife 6.

Squalicum: Watt, Nichols, Fagaautau 5, Calloway 13, Nixon 13, Smith, Burke 2, Hoffman, Hofer 3, Singh 16.


Monday, Feb. 5

Play-in games

Archbishop Murphy 55,  Squalicum 52, OT (loser out)

Burlington-Edison 66, Sedro-Woolley 64 (loser out)

Wednesday, Feb. 7

First round

#8 Burlington-Edison at #1 Lynden, 7 p.m.

#10 Archbishop Murphy at #2 Cedarcrest, 6 p.m.

#6 Sehome at #3 Anacortes, 7 p.m.

#5 Bellingham at #4 Lakewood, 7 p.m.

1A Boys: Mount Baker Turns It Around To Beat Blaine, 65-54

Talk about your turnaround. The Mount Baker boys ended an 11-game losing streak that included an 18-point loss to Blaine by beating the Borderites in the game that meant the most, 65-54.

With the victory, the fifth-seeded Mounties improved to 4-17 and will move on to the semifinals against Lynden Christian on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

“We executed our offense really well and rebounded the ball,” said Mount Baker coach Tony Clark. “Defensively, we were a complete team and played as a unity.”

An 18-point first quarter put Mount Baker in command and even though it was close the whole way, the Mounties made sure there would be no Blaine comeback by putting up another 19 points in the fourth period.

Mount Baker spread the scoring around with junior Luke Smith collecting 17 points, junior Darius Gilstrap and freshman Kell Reardon putting in 16 points each, and sophomore Carter Hill scoring 11 points and sinking a pair of 3s.

Clark praised all four: “Luke Smith played an awesome game hitting shots in the middle of their zone. Kell controlled the boards, Darius was aggressive and took it to the hoop, and Carter did great controlling the ball.”

For the Borderites, seniors Noah Tavis and sophomore Landon Melton had 9 points each, and seniors Jesse Deming and Justin Minjarez and junior Abdul-Fattah Kanagie all had 8 points.

The loss ended the fourth-seeded Borderites’ season at 4-17. Besides Tavis, Deming and Minjarez, Blaine loses to graduation senior Conner Dalry.

Mount Baker 65, Blaine 54

Mount Baker         18       13      15       19—65          

Blaine                    13       15      12       14—54

Mount Baker: Smith 17, Bailey 2, Abitia 3, Hill 11, Armbright, Gilstrap 16, Scott, Reardon 16, Rightmire.

Blaine: Nevarez 3, Kanagie 8, Minjarez 8, Melton 9, Dalry 4, Dohner 5, Deming 8, Tavis 9.


Monday, Feb. 5

Play-in game

Mount Baker 65, Blaine 54 (loser out)

Wednesday, Feb. 7


#3 Meridian at #2 Nooksack Valley, 5:30 p.m.

#5 Mount Baker at #1 Lynden Christian, 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 10

At Lynden High

Consolation round

Semifinal losers, noon (loser out)

Championship game

Semifinal winners, 3:30 p.m. (winner to state)

Friday, Feb. 16

At Lynden High

Consolation final

5:30 p.m. (winner to state, loser out)

1A Girls: Meridian Outlasts Mount Baker, 38-25

With both teams missing key players, it was the Meridian girls who outlasted the Mounties in a defensive struggle, 38-25.

For the fourth-seeded Trojans, the injury report included their two senior posts — Allie Richter and Savannah Storgaard — who had season-ending injuries a couple of weeks ago. For the fifth-seeded Mounties, leading scorer Natalie Van Liew sprained her ankle on Friday and was unable to play. 

“It was definitely a well-fought game, especially without Natalie,” said Mount Baker coach Tiffany Ramirez, whose team wrapped up its season at 3-18. “We hung around in the first half and fought without her. Our defense in the first half led our momentum, and we just couldn’t get that to stick in the second half.”

Part of the reason was the Trojans’ relentless pressing defense, which held the Mounties to 15 points over the final three quarters.

“I’m very proud of how our team battled and showed a lot of heart to grit this game out,” said Meridian coach Bree Joy, whose 6-15 team advances into the district semifinals at Nooksack Valley on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. 

“Our shots weren’t falling much in the first half, so we just had to buckle down on defense. I was impressed with how our younger girls stepped up tonight, especially (sophomore post) Taya Benson on the rebounds.”

Freshman Eden Bernardy continued to be an offensive spark and led the Trojans with 13 points. Junior Brooklyn Fuller had 8 points, and sophomore Kinsley Neal added 6 points.

Mount Baker countered with their own outstanding freshman, Violet Fox, who had 13 points. Senior Jenna Wineinger also returned after suffering a concussion in a recent game to inspire the team with 8 points. No other Mountie, however, had more than two points.

“It’s tough to win games when only a couple of kids are scoring,” said Ramirez. “We’ve struggled with that all season. It (the loss) was definitely a bummer, but I saw some good things from kids and the future is looking good. ”

Besides Wineinger, senior Rhonda Madera played her final game for Mount Baker.

Meridian 38, Mount Baker 25

Mount Baker         10        6       6         3—25          

Meridian                10       11      10         7—38

Mount Baker: Madera, Brown, Nutting, Evans, Wilson 2, Fox 13, Powell 2, Wineinger 8.

Meridian: Fuller 8, McCauley 2, Koning 3, Bernardy 13, Neal 6, K. Storgaard 2, Swanson 4, Benson.


Monday, Feb. 5

Play-in game

Meridian 38, Mount Baker 25 (loser out)

Wednesday, Feb. 7


#3 Blaine at #2 Lynden Christian, 7:30 p.m.

#4 Meridian at #1 Nooksack Valley, 7:15 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 10

At Lynden High

Consolation round

Semifinal losers, 1:45 p.m. (loser out)

Championship game

Semifinal winners, 4:45 p.m. (winner to state regionals)

Friday, Feb. 16

At Lynden High

Consolation final

7:15 p.m. (winner to state regionals, loser out)

Jim Carberry of Whatcom Hoops

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.

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