Boys Preview: New Season Brings New Look For Teams

Whatcom County boys and girls basketball teams are kicking off the 2021 season, and Whatcom Hoops wants to prepare our fans to watch their favorite teams … and all the local teams.

Here’s a look at our 11 boys teams. Check out tomorrow for our girls preview. 

Aidan Bartlett


Coach: Brad McKay

Last season: 3-16 overall, 1-12 in the Northwest Conference (14th)

Top returnees: Trevor Johnson (Sr.), Aiden Bartlett (Jr.), Thomas Mathews (Jr.)

Top newcomers: Sam Reece (Sr.), Marcus McColl (Sr.), Lucas Hugo (Sr.), Manny Depalma (Sr.), Riley Knies (Sr.), Kyle McColl (Sr.)

Outlook: Having graduated seven seniors, Bellingham will have lots of new pieces with very little time together so the Red Raiders have more questions than answers heading into the season. What they do have is a deep senior class led by returning starters Johnson and Bartlett that plays hard and is excited to see how the Raiders stack up to the rest of the NWC.

Coach’s quote: “This is a great group of young men, and I am excited to spend time with them in the gym. It is a blessing to be able to get this opportunity and experience.”

Josh Russ


Coach: Brett Farrar

Last season: 11-11 overall, 5-8 in NWC (tied for eighth), reached Class 2A district tournament

Top returnees: Kyle Turnberg (Sr.), Josh Russ (Sr.), Bailey Bleazard (Sr.), William McKinney (Sr.), Scott Baldwin (Jr.), Cole Thomas (Jr.), Jaxon Kortlever (Jr.), Ethan Koreski (Soph.)

Top newcomers: Avery Dohner (Jr.), Carson Lehnert (Soph.), Lucas Smith (Soph.)

Outlook: Blaine will have a good mix of returning experience to blend with newcomers to the varsity level. With returning starters Turnberg and all-NWC guard Russ leading the way, the Borderites had high hopes of competing in the Class 1A ranks. Despite no playoffs, they are excited to be back on the court playing together and as a group one final season. The team’s goal will be to get better each day, and the extended time off due to the pandemic has given many of the younger players the opportunity to play and improve on their own.

Coach’s quote: “We’re really excited to be back in the gym with our players. They are wonderful young men, who deserve to enjoy playing with each other one final time. Our seniors have put in so much time and have been great representatives of our school and community, and we are looking forward to spending their final season with them. We are also pumped about some of the work put in by our underclassmen during the pandemic. They have greatly improved and we are excited to see where they fit this year.”

Jazen Guillory


Coach: Jason Owens

Last season: 10-11 overall, 5-8 in NWC (tied for eighth), reached Class 3A district tournament 

Top returnees: Jazen Guillory (Jr.), Andrew Monks (Sr.),  Mark Schlichting (Jr.), Jesse Saap (Jr.), Isaiah Carlson (Soph.)

Top newcomers: Luke Wells (Jr.), Conner Walcker (Fr.), James Pearson (Sr.)

Outlook: Ferndale returns its entire starting lineup, including all-NWC guard Guillory. They won’t be tall and they are still young with Monks the only senior starter, but the Golden Eagles will be athletic and will have dangerous shooters at each position. Consistency will be the key for the young and exciting squad, which will be challenging the best of the competitive NWC.

Coach’s quote: “We have a talented group of players that has unlimited potential to take the Ferndale program to the next level. Our desire and passion to be disciplined, hard-working and focused on each other is all we are about this season. We are going to enjoy the ride and be grateful for every opportunity we get this season.”

Jaie Leighton


Coach: Jerome Toby

Last season: 23-5 overall, 14-0 in Northwest 1B League (first), Class 1B fifth-place state finisher

Top returnees: Tyran Lane (Sr.), Jaie Leighton (Sr.), William Hetland (Sr.), Duncan Toby (Jr.), Richard Wilson (Soph.), Franklin Whiteman (Sr.), Moses Seymour (Sr.)

Top newcomers: Jordan Jackson (Sr.), Tobias Francis (Fr.)

Outlook: Lummi Nation graduated the Class 1B state player of the year, but returns the rest of a talented starting lineup and a deep bench. Lane and Leighton give the Blackhawks inside strength, Hetland and Toby provide outside shooting, but what makes Lummi Nation one of the top small schools in the state is its relentless pressure defense.

Coach’s quote: “We just want to play all our games and represent Blackhawk Nation well. Athletics brings our community together. We want to be sure we’re playing for them.”

Liam Hanenburg


Coach: Brian Roper

Last season: 24-3 overall, 12-1 in NWC (second), Class 2A third-place state finisher

Top returnees: Liam Hanenburg (Sr.), Clay Kochuten (Sr.), Jordan Medcalf (Jr.), Koby Whitman (Sr.)

Top newcomers: Baylor Ayres (Sr.), Ian Jacob (Sr.), Dawson Adams (Jr.), Coston Parcher (Soph.), Anthony Canales (Fr.)

Outlook: Lynden returns several experienced players off last season’s district championship squad, including starters Kochuten, Medcalf and all-NWC center Hanenburg. Because there are no playoffs this season, the Lions will be unable to add to their incredible string of five straight Class 2A top-three state finishes. But that won’t keep the players and coaches from striving for excellence in everything that they do this season.

Coach’s quote: “We are grateful for the chance to have a season together. We don’t compare to what could have been had there been a post-season; we choose to compare to what could have been had there been no season. And with that in mind we are thrilled to lace them up together and play basketball representing our school and town.”

Logan Dykstra


Coach: Tim Zylstra

Last season: 22-6 overall, 11-2 in NWC (third), Class 1A state runner-up

Top returnees: Logan Dykstra (Sr.), Shale Whittern (Sr.), Cole Moorlag (Sr.), Andrew Hommes (Jr.), Tyler Sipma (Soph.), William Colwell (Jr.), Jamison Hintz (Jr.), Crew Bosman (Jr).

Top newcomers: Eli Bootsma (Jr.), Griffin Dykstra (Soph.), Jeremiah Wright (Fr.)

Outlook: After graduating four seniors who helped LC to its winningest four-year stretch in school history, the Lyncs will “rebuild” around lone returning starter Dykstra and four returning reserves nicknamed the “energy guys” after last year’s playoff heroics. Having coached in the system the past nine years, new head coach Zylstra won’t have any trouble re-installing the team’s core values and teaching the players what it takes to be their best.

Coach’s quote: “As a coaching staff, we can’t wait to get back in the gym. We love our guys and can’t wait to see the smiles on there faces once we tip off.  It makes it all worthwhile. We start over every year and we don’t get to carry over last year’s wins or losses, which is what makes this a new challenge. We have to work hard and prove it every day going forward. I love it; it’s going to be a fun year.”

Ethan Brooks


Coach: Shane Stacy

Last season: 20-10 overall, 7-6 in NWC (tied for fifth), reached Class 1A state quarterfinals

Top returnees: Ethan Brooks (Sr.), Trey Naidu (Sr.), Eli Hayrynen (Sr.)

Top newcomers: TJ Nagra (Sr.), Wes Kurz (Sr.), Andrew Kuljis (Sr.)

Outlook: After graduating an outstanding senior class that set a school record for victories, Meridian is looking to rebuild behind another deep group of seniors. Expect some growing pains as the new-look Trojans get experience on the fly.

Coach’s quote: “We look forward to and are hopeful that we will get a full season in. We encourage our community and the surrounding communities to take the steps necessary to help us give our seniors the season they deserve.”

Braedan Hart


Coach: Ben Zakheim

Last season: 6-17 overall, 2-11 in NWC (13th), reached Class 1A district tournament

Top returnees: Aidan Corning (Sr.), Braedan Hart (Sr.), Mason Jacoby (Sr.), Ayden Rodriguez (Sr.), Garrett Smith (Sr.)

Top newcomers: Caleb Horsmon (Jr.), Ethan Larson (Soph.), Jeremiah Lee (Sr.)

Outlook: Mount Baker returns five seniors with plenty of varsity experience. Like most schools, the biggest challenge for the Mounties will be finding their rhythm in basketball after more than a year off.

Coach’s quote: “We return a bunch of good kids and talented athletes. I’m so thankful to get a season to work with these guys one more time and give them an opportunity to compete.”

Cody Coppinger


Coach: Rich Skillman

Last season: 12-14 overall, 3-10 in NWC (12th), reached Class 1A district tournament

Top returnees: Cody Coppinger (Sr.)

Top newcomers: Dawson Kimball (Jr.), Ayden Roper (Soph.), Wayne Silves (Fr.)

Outlook: After graduating all but one player, Nooksack Valley will have the biggest rebuilding job in the NWC. The one returnee, however, is Coppinger, who is expected to be one of the league’s top players. The rest of the team will be young but hungry for its opportunity to make an impact on varsity.

Coach’s quote: “We have a lot of young talent that is excited to get its chance to play.”

Elliot Tannovan


Coach: Skyler Gillispie

Last season: 8-13 overall, 5-8 in NWC (tied for eighth), reached Class 2A district tournament

Top returnees: Elliott Tannovan (Sr.), Micah Daheim (Sr.), Jake Ortega (Sr.), Gavin Ortega (Jr.)

Top newcomers: Dane Dominguez (Soph.), Grey Garrison (Soph.), Mathew Storms (Soph.)

Outlook: Sehome returns starters Tannovan, Daheim and the Ortega brothers and the core group looks to continue on the success the Mariners had the second half of last season. The key will be becoming a legitimate offensive threat, while continue to add to their strong defense.

Coach’s quote: “This season will be a great opportunity for the Mariners to reward their upperclassmen while building toward the future.”

Leland Zender


Coach: Tyler Hannigan

Last season: 10-12 overall, 7-6 in NWC (tied for fifth), reached Class 3A district tournament

Top returnees: Leland Zender (Sr.), Reed Richardson (Jr.), Aiden Aune (Sr.), Mason Binning (Sr.), Steven Owens (Sr.)

Top newcomers: Kai Posey (Jr.), Jordan Voigt (Jr.), Trevor Keeley (Jr.), Kaleb Hawkinson (Jr.)

Outlook: The Storm graduated two all-NWC players, but have a strong senior group led by returning starter Zender, three-sport athlete Binning, floor general Aune and the physical Owens, who was injured all of last year. The dynamic junior class led by Richardson and Posey will bolster the offense, while newcomers Keeley, Voigt and Hawkinson bring grit and competitiveness. It will be up to the seniors to lead a team that is hungry to grow and compete, but the juniors will have their opportunities to contribute in this COVID season.

Coach’s quote: “I’m fortunate to have such a great group of players and coaches in my first year leading the Squalicum Storm. The competitive nature of the players on this team makes them a lot of fun to coach. These guys know how to get after it in practice, and I’m looking forward to seeing their growth this year, even in a short season like this one.”

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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