On a night when Ferndale High School was honoring its “old-timers,” it was the veterans of Meridian who stole the show and defeated the Golden Eagles, 48-42, in a Northwest Conference boys basketball game Monday night, Dec. 12.
“Our experience helped a lot,” said Meridian senior Hunter Jones, who had a game-high 14 points. “We worked hard, and we keep fighting. Right now our confidence is high.”
The victory raised the Trojans’ record to 3-2 overall and 1-2 in league and came on the heels of last Thursday’s near-upset of undefeated Sehome.
“We came out and picked up where we were at Sehome,” said Meridian coach Shane Stacy. “I like these guys. They’re a great group. We’ve got great leaders and a good culture.”
For a quarter, it looked like the Trojans were an undefeated team as they used their fullcourt press to hold Ferndale to seven points and led by 11 early in the second period.
But the Golden Eagles cut the margin to five by halftime and then got two buckets from junior Bhavnoor Grewal and two free throws from senior Mathias Johnson to give Ferndale its first lead of the night.
“There’s no giving up in this group,” said Ferndale coach Jason Owens, whose squad fell to 0-5 overall and 0-3 in league. “They were fighting to the end.”
But in the end, it was the Meridian experience in pressure situations that made the difference.
With 3:50 to go and the Trojans clinging to a 37-35 lead, veterans Jones and sophomore Jaeger Fyfe made shots to boost the lead to six, and Meridian nailed down the win by sinking 9 of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter.
While disappointed with the loss — especially on a night when the Ferndale community was invited to attend an “open house” at the old high school, which will be closed when the new high school opens after the winter break — Owens looked at the positives.
“We held a team that dumped 65 (points) on Sehome to 48,” said Owens noting that 11 of his 12 players were seeing their first varsity action this season. “We’ve got inexperienced kids who are wide-eyed. They are slowly learning that every possession matters. I want them to see what I see (in them).”
While going 3-for-23 on 3-pointers and having 22 turnovers were too much for Ferndale to overcome, at least one Golden Eagle wasn’t letting the loss bring him down.
“There’s a lot of us playing our first time on varsity,” said Johnson. “We’re improving and learning what we can do. We’ll be a problem (for other teams) when we hit those shots.”
Joining Jones in double figures for Meridian was sophomore Talon Jenkins with 11 points. Fyfe added 9 points, and senior Tyrel Brooks had 6.
Senior Lucas Mills led Ferndale with 10 points and a pair of 3-pointers, Grewal had 9 points, and junior Kevin Woods had 7 points.
Meridian returns home on Friday to take on defending Class 2A state champion Lynden. Ferndale travels to Glacier Peak on Friday for a non-league game and then is at Mount Baker on Saturday for another NWC contest.
Meridian 48, Ferndale 42
Meridian 14 11 10 13—48
Ferndale 7 13 9 13—42
Meridian: Jenkins 11, Fuller 2, Fyfe 9, Nagra 3, Anderson, Burks 3, Jones 14, Brooks 6, James.
Ferndale: Smith 5, Toney 3, Johnson 4, Thomas, Ootsey 4, Woods 7, Grewal 9, Mills 10.
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.