Any rematch is going to be different the second time around, and in a season filled with craziness, it’s no surprise that Bellingham and Meridian’s sequel was nothing like the original.
The host Bayhawks took advantage of the short-handed Trojans to notch a 67-30 Northwest Conference victory on Monday night, Jan. 17. The win came a month and a half after their season-opening contest at Meridian, which Bellingham won in much closer fashion, 58-54.
“You have to be resilient,” said Meridian coach Shane Stacy, whose team was missing four varsity players including three starters from the first game. “Everybody’s missing guys. I guess we could have not played and watched ‘The Office’ reruns at home.”
The victory raised Bellingham’s record to 4-7 overall and 3-6 in NWC play. Meridian fell to 3-7 overall and 1-7 in league.
“You want to play your best ball at the end (of the season),” said Bellingham coach Brad McKay, whose team was also missing its starting point guard. “Tonight was a step in the right direction. We got a lot of contributions from guys who are still trying to figure out their roles.”
Making the biggest contribution for the Bayhawks was their biggest player, 6-foot-8 Henry Sheldrup. The senior post dominated inside, finishing with a game-high 18 points. Eight of his points came in the first period when the Bayhawks jumped to a 15-5 lead and never looked back.
But Sheldrup got a lot of help. Sophomore Wyatt Stephan had 14 points, senior Jacob Lawson had 12, and sophomore Ian O’Roarty and junior Grayson Stone had 8 points each.
McKay praised the play of his reserves for being the “next guys to step up,” including Lawson and senior Alex Breeding, who took over as starting point guard.
Bellingham got its running game going in the second half and wore down the Trojans, outscoring them 38-15 after intermission.
Stacy got a chance to play his reserves some of whom were junior varsity players seeing their first varsity action. It showed the most on offense, naturally, where the lack of practices the past month and lack of playing together made running plays difficult.
“A lot of guys are getting some experience,” said Stacy looking at the positives. “Our last practice was last Tuesday (because of COVID restrictions) and it was our best practice. We need to pick it up from there. And get some guys back.”
Junior Hunter Jones led Meridian with 12 points, but no other Trojan had more than four points.
Meridian is in action again on Tuesday when the Trojans host La Conner in a non-league contest. Bellingham is off until Saturday afternoon when the Bayhawks travel to Squalicum.
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.