Happy New Year! Believe it or not, we just wrapped up Week 5, which means we’re halfway through the boys basketball regular season.
So instead of our weekly Whatcom Hoops recap, we’re going to look at each team and where they stand at the halfway point of their seasons. (And if you want to check on how your teams did in holiday tournaments last week, check out each day’s roundup at Whatcom Hoops roundups.)
Like we did last year, we’ve come up with midseason report cards for each team using the following elementary school grading system:
Outstanding: Teams that have reached their high goals so far this season or that have done better than expected.
Satisfactory: Teams that are about where they were expected to be after the first half of the season and have a chance to do even better.
Needs improvement: Teams that will need to up their game in the second half of the season to reach their preseason goals.
Incomplete: Teams that are difficult to judge because of early-season scheduling, injuries, and other circumstances.
For a look at the midseason report cards for our county girls teams, check out Whatcom Hoops girls midseason grades.
Here’s where our boys teams stand after Week 5 (Dec. 26-30):
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN LYNCS
Overall record: 11-0
Northwest Conference record: 5-0, second place
Week 5 results: Defeated North Creek, 61-52, and Mountlake Terrace in overtime, 66-64, in the Mountlake Terrace Holiday Tournament; defeated Bellevue Christian, 79-40, in the Trojan Storm Winter Classic
Why outstanding: Despite graduating three starters, the two-time defending Class 1A state champions haven’t lost a beat. With their size, athleticism, and depth, they’ve dominated weaker squads and have beaten larger schools, including previously unbeaten Mountlake Terrace on Friday. The bigger NWC tests lie ahead starting with Anacortes on Jan. 8, but the Lyncs appear on track to be 1A favorites heading to Yakima in March.
LUMMI NATION BLACKHAWKS
Overall record: 8-1
Northwest 1B League record: 5-0, first place
Week 5 results: Defeated Mossyrock, 73-53; Adna, 57-44; and Wahkiakum, 65-55, to win the Mount Vernon Christian Holiday Tournament
Why outstanding: The Blackhawks had a flock of returnees this season but were missing the all-state players they’ve had in the past so expectations weren’t as high as the last couple of seasons. But this group has done it by spreading around the offense and, of course, playing intense defense. They’ve run roughshod over the NW1B and convincing wins over three solid opponents last week shows they will be ready to take on the best in the 1Bs.
Overall record: 7-3
NWC record: 5-1, third place
Week 5 results: On Friday lost to Marysville-Getchell, 73-51 (Kincade VanHouten 14 points, Jesse Harward 11), and on Saturday defeated Sequim, 69-57 (Elias Togagae 16, Gabe Van Hofwegen and VanHouten 11 each, Wyatt Stephan 10)
Why outstanding: The Bayhawks shouldn’t be a surprise with the core of last year’s squad returning, but big wins over Sehome, Nooksack Valley, and Ferndale have thrust them in the conversation for the Northwest District’s two state berths. When their 3-pointers are going down they are dangerous, which opens it up for their solid inside game. They’ll get their chance to prove they can play with the big boys starting on Thursday at Lynden.
Overall record: 8-3
NWC record: 6-0, first place
Week 5 results: Lost to Zillah, 70-65, and defeated Mark Morris, 68-48, at the Wilbur-Ellis Sundome Shootout
Why satisfactory: How can the two-time defending Class 2A state champs be in first place yet only “satisfactory”? Because having lost so many veterans the past two seasons, the biggest question mark was how the new group would handle itself in big games. And so far, the Lions are still working on closing out close games. But to be honest, what does it matter how they look at midseason? The past decade, Lynden has always played its best ball at the end of the season and you can expect that again in 2024.
NOOKSACK VALLEY PIONEERS
Overall record: 7-3
NWC record: 4-2, tied for sixth place
Week 5 results: Defeated Toppenish, 59-37, and lost to Quincy, 62-48, in the Wilbur-Ellis Sundome Shootout
Why satisfactory: The Pioneers are young but experienced, which means expectations are mixed, which has how the season has gone so far. Nooksack has beaten teams with losing records and lost to teams with winning marks. The schedule will get more difficult, but the key to success won’t be the Pioneers’ record but how much they improve heading into the league playoffs.
Overall record: 6-4
NWC record: 3-2, tied for seventh place
Week 5 results: Defeated Prairie, 74-73, and lost to Inglemoor, 59-49, in the Mountlake Terrace Holiday Tournament
Why satisfactory: What a difference a year makes. Last year’s veteran team had state title aspirations; this year’s inexperienced squad is still learning about itself. While the Mariners haven’t made the big step to district contenders yet, they’ve notched solid wins against Squalicum and Meridian. You could put Sehome in the “incomplete” category since their story has yet to be written, but they’ve definitely reached early-season expectations.
Overall record: 4-7
NWC record: 2-3, tied for eighth place
Week 5 results: Defeated Bellevue Christian in OT, 66-59, and Centralia, 52-38, and lost to Meridian, 49-35, in the Trojan Storm Winter Classic
Why needs improvement: The Storm are another young team without any seniors, so it would be easy to look at this as a “growing” year. Yet they’ve been athletic enough to set their expectations higher than that. What the Storm needs is a statement win over a good team and they’ll have their chance with some of the NWC’s best coming up in the second half.
FERNDALE GOLDEN EAGLES
Overall record: 2-8
NWC record: 2-4, 11th place
Week 5 results: Lost to Cascade (Everett), 63-62, on Thursday (Mantaj Singh 23 points, Jason Brillowsky 13, Lincoln Thomas 11)
Why needs improvement: While the Golden Eagles’ record doesn’t show it, they’ve definitely improved and been in most of their games until the end. And like many of the teams in the conference, Ferndale is all but guaranteed a playoff spot so at this point improving is most important. But the playoffs are different in the Class 3A ranks, where all the Western Conference teams will be big and athletic so the Golden Eagles will need to take a big step forward if they want to advance. Of course, one only needs to remember the 2022 Ferndale team that started 1-7 and reached the state tournament … so you never know.
MOUNT BAKER MOUNTIES
Overall record: 3-7
NWC record: 1-4, tied for 13th place
Week 5 results: The Mounties took the Christmas break off.
Why needs improvement: Mount Baker is another of the NWC’s young teams with three sophomores and a freshman starting. They’ve taken their lumps, but it’s hard not to be impressed with their gritty style. Still, like the other three 1A NWC teams chasing powerhouse Lynden Christian, the Mounties will need to grow up fast and start giving the lumps against their rivals if they want to make a difference in the playoffs and have a chance to reach Yakima.
Overall record: 3-8
NWC record: 1-5, 15th place
Week 5 results: Defeated Mount Vernon Christian, 51-47, and lost to Wahkiakum, 65-55, and Adna, 58-42, in the Mount Vernon Christian Holiday Tournament
Why needs improvement: Maybe a roller coaster ride is to be expected when a team only returns one starter, but the Borderites have been the epitome of an up-and-down season. They’ve led at halftime of at least six games but couldn’t put away opponents, including Squalicum and Nooksack Valley, who beat Blaine by a total of three points. The good news is a bucket or two a game would put them in the 1A running and there’s still a lot of season to go.
Overall record: 6-4
NWC record: 1-3, tied for eighth place
Week 5 results: Lost to Nathan Hale, 78-47, and defeated Steilacoom, 59-34, and Squalicum, 49-35, to win the Trojan Storm Winter Classic
Why incomplete: While every team could receive an “incomplete” with five weeks left in the regular season, the Trojans definitely deserve the grade. Injuries, sickness, and other issues have prevented them from fielding their full team until last week when they played two strong games. When they are at full strength, they have the shooters and size to cause any team problems. So like with the other 10 teams, it’s just wait and see for the Trojans.
Thursday and Friday are big days for deciding the Class 2A and 1A races in the Northwest Conference and first place in the Northwest 1B League. Bellingham is at Lynden on Thursday in a battle between two of the top 2A teams, Lynden Christian is at Nooksack Valley on Friday in a key 1A showdown, and Lummi Nation is at Tulalip Heritage on Thursday with the winner sitting atop the 1B standings.
Tuesday, Jan. 2: Burlington-Edison at Meridian, Mount Vernon at Squalicum
Wednesday, Jan. 3: Ferndale at Foster, Mount Baker at Lynden Christian, Sehome at Oak Harbor, Friday Harbor at Nooksack Valley
Thursday, Jan. 4: Bellingham at Lynden, Meridian at Mount Vernon, Sedro-Woolley at Blaine, Squalicum at Anacortes, Lummi Nation at Tulalip Heritage
Friday, Jan. 5: Oak Harbor at Ferndale, Lynden Christian at Nooksack Valley, Lakewood at Sehome, Friday Harbor at Lummi Nation
Saturday, Jan. 6: Meridian at Anacortes, Mount Baker at Burlington-Edison