With COVID, snow, and even the lack of bus drivers cancelling almost all the Week 5 games and tournaments involving Whatcom County boys basketball teams, maybe it’s a good time to take a look at where each squad is at the halfway point of the regular season.
Because letter grades are way too subjective and pass/fail infers that some teams aren’t giving their best (which is not true), Whatcom Hoops is going with the simple elementary 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. 27-Jan. 1):
Lynden Christian (7-0 overall, 4-0, tied for first in the Northwest Conference): The Lyncs remain the county’s only unbeaten team and you can’t get any better than undefeated. They also have one signature win already with the victory over Class 1A power Seattle Academy. If the young and inexperienced players keep improving, LC will be back in the state title hunt once again.
Sehome (6-1, 4-1, fourth place in NWC): The Mariners have all the pieces to make their first trip to state since 2015 and were playing at a state-caliber level until stumbling against Mount Vernon just before the break. How Sehome bounces back in a crucial four-game stretch starting at Lynden on Monday may determine where the Mariners stand as they prepare for the district playoffs and beyond.
Lummi Nation (5-1, 3-0, first place in the Northwest 1B League): The Blackhawks have won five straight games against 1B or 2B opponents by an average score of 69-30. With the league being weaker than usual, Lummi Nation won’t be challenged much until the district and tri-district tournaments. But if the younger players keep getting better, this could be another Blackhawks team that makes a deep state run.
Lynden (5-1, 3-1, tied for fifth in NWC): For any other school, a five-game winning streak to start the season — especially after a slow start because of the football state championship — would be cause for celebration. But the bar is always high at Jake Maberry Gym. The new-look Lions are lurking right behind the NWC leaders, but the big tests lie ahead starting Monday against Sehome.
Squalicum (4-2, 3-2, tied for seventh in NWC): The Storm’s four-game winning streak makes them one of the league’s hottest teams and pushed them into the sixth spot in the district RPI standings. This week could determine if Squalicum deserves to be among the leaders as the Storm travels to Mount Vernon on Monday and hosts Lynden on Friday.
Blaine (3-4, 2-3, tied for 10th in NWC): After closes losses to Burlington-Edison and Mount Vernon, the Borderites finally broke through with their historic victory over Lynden and appear to be one of those dangerous teams no one wants to play. They also have the advantage of having faced many of the NWC’s top teams early in the season so look for their stock — and place in the standings — to rise in future weeks.
Meridian (3-4, 2-3, tied for 10th in NWC): The Trojans find themselves in the exact same place in the standings as Blaine except that Meridian faces its gauntlet at the end of the regular season, including a key game against the Borderites. With only two possible state berths available to our Class 1A schools, Meridian will be shooting for the best seeding in the league tournament.
Ferndale (1-7, 1-4 12th in NWC): It’s hard to be critical of the Golden Eagles, who lost one starter to an injury before the season, another to an illness before the break, not to mention close losses to NWC leaders Lakewood and Lynden Christian. But this proud senior-laden team will need a second-half surge to catch at least seventh-place Oak Harbor and qualify for the Class 3A district tournament.
Bellingham (2-4, 0-4, tied for 14th in NWC): The Bayhawks want a more favorable position in the top six in the Class 2A district playoffs (they are tied for eighth right now), but it’ll be hard to move up this week when they face NWC leaders Lakewood and Lynden Christian. The rest of the schedule is more favorable, but the key will be improving as they prepare for a run in the postseason.
Mount Baker (0-7, 0-5, 16th in NWC): The Mounties’ record is deceiving with four of their losses coming by five or fewer points. And since all five Class 1A schools automatically qualify for the league tournament, Mount Baker can save the best for last. So the Mounties will be seeking to improve enough to win those close ones as they, too, shoot for a last-season run.
Nooksack Valley (2-5, 0-3, 13th in NWC): It might be easy to dismiss the young Pioneers except for two things. First, their two victories were over a strong Lummi Nation squad and last Tuesday’s 68-43 win that snapped Mount Vernon Christian’s six-game winning streak. (Joey Brown and Caden Heutink had 11 points each, and Colton Lentz added 10 points in Nooksack’s victory, the only game all week involving a county boys team.) The second thing is that the young Pioneers are, well, really young, so they figure to get better. So we will wait and see before we judge.
Now that we’re halfway through the regular season, there are going to be big games and key showdowns almost every week. This week’s is Monday when Sehome travels to Lynden in a contest that pits two of the top Class 2A teams in the district and possibly the state.
Monday, Jan. 3: Blaine at Anacortes, Sehome at Lynden, Lynden Christian at Burlington-Edison, Squalicum at Mount Vernon
Tuesday, Jan. 4: Lakewood at Bellingham, Sedro-Woolley at Ferndale, Meridian at Oak Harbor, Mount Baker at Nooksack Valley, Lummi Nation at Shoreline Christian
Wednesday, Jan. 5: Anacortes at Sehome
Thursday, Jan. 6: Bellingham at Lynden Christian, Lakewood at Blaine, Ferndale at Mount Baker, Lummi Nation at Tulalip Heritage
Friday, Jan. 7: Lynden at Squalicum, Nooksack Valley at Meridian
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.