The Sehome, Lynden, and Lummi Nation boys all will be going to their respective state playoffs, but they had different emotions after their games on Saturday, Feb. 18.
For the Mariners, it was disappointment as their last-ditch comeback came up short, and they lost the Class 2A District 1 championship game to Anacortes, 55-45, at Mount Vernon High School.
For the Lions, there was joy — and relief — as they manhandled Lakewood, 68-51, to take the district’s third and final state berth.
And for the Blackhawks, who had already earned their state berth, there was celebration as they defeated Neah Bay, 67-59, to win the Class 1B District 1/2/3 championship at Mount Vernon Christian High School.
All three teams will have to wait until Sunday to hear who, when, and where they will be playing next. State regionals are played at local sites on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24 and 25, using a format determined by seeding.
The top four teams host the fifth through eighth seeds (1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, etc.) with both teams advancing to the state tournament in Yakima (2A) and Spokane (1B). The winners, however, advance directly to the March 2 quarterfinals and the double-elimination portion while the losers must play a first-round, loser-out contest on March 1.
Teams seeded ninth through 16 in the regionals face off in loser-out games (9 vs. 16, 10 vs. 15, etc.) with only the winner advancing to the first-round, loser-out contests on March 1.
While a committee will do the official seeding on Sunday, the state’s RPI rankings are somewhat helpful. As of Saturday, here are our teams’ rankings in their respective classifications: Lynden #5, Sehome #6, and Lummi Nation #11.
Sehome Drops District Final To Anacortes, 55-45
The Mariners started cold and by the time they heated up in the fourth quarter it was too late as the Seahawks won the District 1 championship game.
Anacortes, which won the Northwest Conference title and improved to 21-2, came out hot, hitting five 3-pointers and taking a 21-5 lead to start the game.
“They hit some shots and we shot poorly and turned the ball over,” said Sehome coach Brad Jackson, whose team fell to 19-4. “We didn’t play well tonight.”
The Mariners cut the lead to six in the second quarter but missed two layups and then again in the third quarter but gave up two Anacortes layups.
It wasn’t until the fourth period that Sehome’s offense turned on as senior Isaac Lawrence hit a 3-pointer and senior Grant Kepley put in a layup to finally cut the margin to 44-39 with three minutes to go. They had two chances to make it a two-point game but missed 3-pointers.
And when forced to foul, the Mariners could only watch as Anacortes made six free throws in the final 67 seconds to end the Sehome rally.
“I was proud we were able to make a comeback,” said Kepley, who finished with a team-high 11 points. When asked if he could remember the Mariners shooting so poorly, he shook his head. “Not this season. They’re a great team, and you can’t do that.”
Lawrence had 10 points and a pair of 3-pointers, and senior Grey Garrison had 9 points, seven coming in a row to spark the third-quarter rally.
Is this a game, the Mariners want to forget? Not according to Kepley. “We’ve got to remember and learn from it,” he said. “Then we move on.”
Jackson was looking to the future, too.
“These kids are fighters and they’ll fight (in regionals),” said Jackson. “Obviously, you want to win the district championship, but everything we’ve worked for is still on the table.”
Anacortes 55, Sehome 45
Sehome 7 11 9 18—45
Anacortes 21 8 7 19—55
Sehome: Lawrence 10, Garrison 9, Duckworth 4, Storms 6, Dominguez 5, Wright, Kepley 11.
Anacortes: Bra. Beaner 20, Fogle 16, Bro. Beaner, Barton 3, Von Hagel 8, Schafer 1, Hayes 7, Eilertsen.
Lynden Beats Lakewood For State Spot, 68-51
The Lions had to qualify for state the hard way — through the losers’ bracket — but they made it look easy by wearing down Lakewood to take third place and earn their 11th straight state appearance.
After withstanding a flurry of Lakewood 3-pointers — the Cougars would make 11 from beyond the arc and only seven 2-point field goals for the game — the Lions turned a nine-point halftime advantage into a 22-point lead thanks to a 24-point third-quarter blitz.
Doing most of the blitzing was junior all-stater Anthony Canales, who had 16 of his game-high 24 points in the third period. The highlight was when he skied to block a Lakewood 3-point attempt, picked up the loose ball for a fastbreak, and did a spinning layup with nine seconds left.
“We tried to start the game hot knowing this could be our last game,” said Canales, who was named the state tournament MVP last year when the Lions won the Class 2A state crown. “(Assistant) Coach (Mike) Elsner keeps telling me to let the game come to me. Today I felt it.”
In the first half, it was Kobe Baar who felt it. With Lakewood’s defense focusing on Canales and senior Coston Parcher, Baar lit up the Cougars for 17 first-half points.
“They decided to cover Bubba (Parcher) and Anthony and we took advantage of it,” said Baar, who finished with 20 points. “We wanted to focus on having fun out there.”
And was it fun? “Oh yeah,” said Baar, who also had 8 assists. “I’m just glad to keep playing with my brothers.”
Lynden coach Brian Roper, whose team improved to 20-4, praised the shorter Cougars (13-12) for their hustle and outside shooting.
“They’re like a 6-foot and under team that fires the 3 with confidence,” said Roper. “But we talked about making it a 32-minute game. And we saw that in the third quarter.”
The Lions ended up outrebounding the Cougars, 34-20. Senior Trey Smiley collected 8 boards and had 4 assists, and Canales pulling down 6 rebounds to go with 4 steals.
“Anthony was patient early and when it opened up, he makes plays you can’t coach,” said Roper. “He was terrific. And he has become a great leader for us.”
Now the defending state champs will await their seeding. But Roper likes where his team is.
“We hang our hat on defense and rebounding and tonight we brought good focus and energy,” he said. “We’re playing our best basketball of the year right now.”
Lynden 68, Lakewood 51
Lakewood 21 16 24 9—68
Lynden 14 14 11 12—51
Lakewood: Rucker 3, Weller 8, Smith 8, Parks, Stacey 3, Lydon, Irvin, Stoddard 15, Greenland 14.
Lynden: Elsner 3, Parcher 5, Petersen 2, Matthews, Hanenburg 4, Van Dalen, Smiley 6, Canales 24, Heppner 4, Baar 20.
DISTRICT 1 TOURNAMENT
Thursday, Feb. 9
#7 Squalicum 56, #10 Sedro-Woolley 44 (loser out)
#8 Archbishop Murphy 56, #9 Bellingham 41 (loser out)
Saturday, Feb. 11
#2 Lynden 64, Squalicum 35
#3 Sehome 60, #6 Burlington-Edison 47
#4 Lakewood 68, #5 Cedarcrest 64
#1 Anacortes 79, Archbishop Murphy 48
Tuesday, Feb. 14
Squalicum 60, Burlington-Edison 56 (loser out)
Archbishop Murphy 63, Cedarcrest 61 (loser out)
At Mount Vernon
Sehome 46, Lynden 44
Anacortes 52, Lakewood 49
Thursday, Feb. 16
At Mount Vernon
Lakewood 55, Squalicum 50 (loser out)
Lynden 65, Archbishop Murphy 25 (loser out)
Saturday, Feb. 18
At Mount Vernon
Lynden 68, Lakewood 51 (winner third, to state regionals, loser out)
Anacortes 55, Sehome 45 (winner first, loser second, both to state regionals)
Lummi Nation Sinks Neah Bay To Win Title, 67-59
The Blackhawks flew out to a big lead and then hit their free throws down the stretch to hold off the Red Devils and win the tri-district championship for the second time in three years.
“I was proud of the boys,” said Lummi Nation coach Jerome Toby, whose fourth-seeded team improved to 19-7 with the victory. “They battled and held off a big rally from a good Neah Bay team. It was a hard-fought battle for the Blackhawks.”
Lummi Nation was led by freshman Jerome Toby Jr., who had 24 points and helped the Blackhawks take a 19-6 lead with eight first-quarter points. Lummi Nation stretched the lead to 19 points at halftime thanks to junior Tobias Francis, who hit five 3-pointers and all 17 of his points in the second quarter.
But Neah Bay, which came in seeded third and had knocked off District 1 champion Mount Vernon Christian in the semifinals, rallied with a 23-point third quarter.
That’s when the Blackhawks showed their toughness. Senior Richard Wilson had six of his 9 points and junior Mathias Johnson had all five of his points in the fourth quarter, and the Blackhawks hit nine of 12 free throws to seal the win.
Lummi Nation 67, Neah Bay 59
Lummi Nation 19 22 8 18—67
Neah Bay 6 16 23 14—59
Lummi Nation: Toby 24, Perkins 3, Francis 17, Johnson 5, Abrams 3, Edward 2, Wilson 9, Scott 2, Bailey 2.
Neah Bay: Wimberly 2, Halttunen 8, Carrick 22, Chambers 7, Aguirre 13, Swan 7.
TRI-DISTRICT 1/2/3 TOURNAMENT
Saturday, Feb. 11
#6 Orcas Island 88, #11 Tulalip Heritage 71 (loser out)
#7 Muckleshoot Tribal 73, #10 Grace Academy 47 (loser out)
#12 Crescent 50, #5 Evergreen Lutheran 48 (loser out)
#9 Summit Classical 60, #8 Puget Sound Adventist 48 (loser out)
Tuesday, Feb. 14
#3 Neah Bay 81, Orcas Island 67
#2 Mount Vernon Christian 59, Muckleshoot Tribal 50
#4 Lummi Nation 81, Crescent 26
Summit Classical 56, #1 Sound Christian Academy 53
Friday, Feb. 17
Orcas Island 70, Muckleshoot Tribal 38
Sound Christian Academy 68, Crescent 43
Neah Bay 60, Mount Vernon Christian 42
Lummi Nation 61, Summit Classical Christian 37
Saturday, Feb. 18
At Mount Vernon Christian
Muckleshoot Tribal 49, Crescent 40 (both out)
Sound Christian Academy 56, Orcas Island 49 (winner fifth, loser sixth, both to state regionals)
Mount Vernon Christian 56, Summit Classical Christian 32 (winner third, loser fourth, both to state regionals)
Lummi Nation 68, Neah Bay 59 (winner first, loser second, both to state regionals)
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.