Essential Fans Guide: Class 1A Girls State Tournament

When you speak of the best of the best in Class 1A girls basketball, the discussion pretty much begins and ends with Whatcom County teams.

This year, as they have the past two state tournaments, Nooksack Valley and Lynden Christian will be looking to square up again in the state championship game. The Lyncs won two years ago — as they have five of the past nine state tournaments — and the Pioneers brought home the school’s first state title last year.

Nooksack Valley, unbeaten against Washington state teams, comes in as the favorite with most of its key players returning, including tournament MVP and Washington signee Devin Coppinger. The Pioneers will open play in the quarterfinals Thursday against the winner of the Seattle Academy-Bellevue Christian contest.

The Lyncs, who are in the state quarterfinals for an unbelievable 17th straight time but who have almost an entirely new team, will be tested right away against the winner of the King’s-Eatonville contest. Unless there is an upset, next up would be unbeaten Deer Park.

Here’s a look at both teams, the rest of the field, and the tournament schedule:

Whatcom Hoops February-26-2024
Nooksack coach Shane Wichers is looking forward to Yakima.


Record: 23-1 (#1 seed)

First game: Thursday, 5:30 p.m., against Wednesday’s Seattle Academy-Bellevue Christian winner

Starters: Lainey Kimball, P/G, Sr., 5-10; Kate Shintaffer, G, Jr., 5-7; Devin Coppinger, G, Sr., 5-11; Tana Hoekema, P, Sr., 6-1; Kaylee Anderson, G, Sr., 5-8

Reserves: Payton Bartl, G, So., 5-6; Chayleigh Davis, G, So., 5-6; Alexis Larson, G, So., 5-3; Raegan Burke, G, Fr., 5-9; Alayna Dykstra, P, Jr., 5-7; Grace DeHoog, P, So., 6-1

Team preview: The Pioneers are loaded, focused, and ready to etch their names in the history books. Even without Coppinger, they might be among the tournament favorites. With her, they are among the best teams in the state regardless of classification. Yes, they still have to play the games and anything can happen, but the Pioneers’ size, quickness, depth, and unselfishness pose difficult matchups at every position and in any style of game.

State outlook: It’s easy to award Nooksack Valley the state title on paper, but it won’t be easy to win it on the court. Contenders abound and would like nothing better than to upset the mighty Pioneers. Deer Park is undefeated, Wapato has shooters galore and Yakima-style pressure defense, and Lynden Christian is, well, Lynden Christian. Toss in King’s for good measure, and the Pioneers will have to be playing their best. 

Coach Shane Wichers: “Any time you get to play basketball in Yakima, it is special. We are excited to go compete and give our best effort.”

Whatcom Hoops February-26-2024
Coach Brady Bomber has the young Lyncs back at state.


Record: 18-7 (#3 seed)

First game: Thursday, 7:15 p.m., against Wednesday’s King’s-Eatonville winner

Starters: Danya Dykstra, G., Jr., 5-10; Ella Fritts, G, So., 5-10; Grace Hintz, G, Jr., 5-9; Tabitha DeJong, F, Sr., 6-1; Allison Shumate, F, Jr., 6-0

Reserves: Estela Hernandez, G, So., 5-9; Kortnee Tolsma, G, Fr., 5-4; Gracelyn Russell, G, Fr., 5-5; Kayla Yun, G, So., 5-3; Sara Van Loo, F, So., 5-9; Ellie Pierce, G, Fr., 5-4; Makalie Tveter, G, Jr., 5-9; Jocelyn Eshuis, F, Fr., 6-1

Team preview: Who else can return only three players with significant varsity experience, lose one of them for most of the season to an injury, and have only one senior on your squad — and still earn the third seed? LC, of course. Expectations are high because of the name, but this is as young and inexperienced a squad as the Lyncs have had in a long while. Still, if they keep improving and find the offensive support for all-state guard Grace Hintz, this squad might add to the Lyncs’ storied history.

State outlook: Tradition only gets you so far, but the Lyncs will be in the mix of contenders with Deer Park, Wapato, King’s and possibly a dark horse like Bellevue Christian or Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls). The key will be how well the inexperienced players adjust to the spotlight, something LC prepares for all season by scheduling some of the best teams in the state.

Coach Brady Bomber: “Our team is encouraged by the improvements we have made both individually and collectively throughout the season. Many of our girls have been waiting a long time to finally compete at the state tournament, so we are going to make the most of it and enjoy each moment. There are a lot of strong teams on our side of the bracket so we know that we will need to play our best basketball to give ourselves a chance. Nooksack is in a class of its own, but there’s a lot of parity amongst the rest of the field.”


Friday, Feb. 23

Seattle Academy 55, Annie Wright 53 (winner to state tournament, loser out)

Eatonville 40, Seton Catholic 36 (winner to state tournament, loser out)

Saturday, Feb. 24

Lynden Christian 59, Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) 51 (both to state tournament)

Montesano 41, Cascade Christian 25 (winner to state tournament, loser out)

Wapato 63, King’s 58 (both to state tournament)

Nooksack Valley 75, Toppenish 36 (both to state tournament)

Deer Park 41, Bellevue Christian 35 (both to state tournament)

Cashmere 43, Cedar Park Christian (Bothell) 24 (winner to state tournament, loser out)


At Yakima SunDome

Wednesday, Feb. 28

#11 Montesano (16-9) vs. #6 Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) (19-5), 3:45 p.m. (loser out)

#10 Seattle Academy (15-9) vs. #7 Bellevue Christian (22-2), 5:30 p.m. (loser out)

#13 Eatonville vs. #4 King’s (16-10), 7:15 p.m. (loser out)

#9 Cashmere (19-5) vs. #8 Toppenish (16-9), 9 p.m. (loser out)

Thursday, Feb. 29

Montesano-Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) winner vs. #5 Wapato (22-4), 3:45 p.m. 

Seattle Academy-Bellevue Christian vs. #1 Nooksack Valley (23-1), 5:30 p.m.

Eatonville-King’s winner vs. #3 Lynden Christian (18-7), 7:15 p.m.

Cashmere-Toppenish winner vs. #2 Deer Park (24-0), 9 p.m.

Friday, March 1

Consolation game, 12:15 p.m. (loser out)

Consolation game, 2 p.m. (loser out)

Semifinal, 7:15 p.m.

Semifinal, 9 p.m.

Saturday, March 2

Consolation game, 9:30 a.m. (winner fourth, loser sixth)

Consolation final, 1 p.m. (winner third, loser fifth)

Championship game, 9 p.m. (winner first, loser second)

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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