Ferndale Boys Edge Sehome In Final Minute

Chalk one up for the student — actually for the student’s team.

Coach Luke DuChesne’s Ferndale boys basketball team edged Sehome, coached by DuChesne’s mentor and friend Brad Jackson, 58-55, in an important Northwest Conference contest on Monday night, Jan. 22.

“It was a unique and awesome experience,” said DuChesne, who was a Sehome assistant under Jackson last year. “He’s a great guy and a great coach who I’ve learned so much from. But once the game started…”

Well, once the game started, the two squads battled like heavyweights down to the final buzzer. Ferndale came out strong and led by as much as 13 early in the second quarter, but the visiting Mariners fought back to take their first lead with four minutes left.

Sophomore Cole Turrell’s three-point play off a nifty feed from senior Mason McLin gave Sehome a 53-48 lead and it appeared the Mariners would complete the comeback win. But the final three minutes belonged to the Golden Eagles.

Junior Lincoln Thomas banked in a 3-pointer and senior Bishop Ootsey’s steal and fastbreak layup tied it with two minutes left. The Mariners then missed four straight free throws allowing Ferndale to retake the lead on senior Bhavnoor Grewal’s short jumper with 42 seconds left.

After a Sehome turnover, sophomore Mantaj Singh hit one of two free throws to make it a three-point Ferndale lead. Sophomore Nolan Wright drove in for a Sehome bucket, but Ootsey sank two free throws with 12 seconds left to keep the lead at three.

Sehome tried a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer but Ootsey’s deflection made sure it didn’t reach the basket, giving the Golden Eagles the hard-fought victory.

“We put everything we had into this game,” said Grewal, who certainly did his part with a game-high 26 points. “This was a big game. We fed off the crowd. Everybody wanted to win this one.”

There was a playoff atmosphere complete with big crowd for both sides, the Ferndale band, and even an extra 50 or so mini-cheerleaders. And it was a big game for both teams.

The victory improved Ferndale’s record to 5-5 in the Northwest Conference and 6-9 overall. More importantly, the five league victories were needed in the complicated RPI formula for the Golden Eagles to qualify for the Class 3A District 1 playoffs. They sit in the 10th seed of the 12-team tournament.

“In the big picture, we needed a couple of wins if we wanted to play after the regular season,” said DuChesne, who took over a team that won only one game last season. “We’ve been on the other end (of close games), and they could’ve thrown in the towel. But these guys are bringing it. They’re playing as a team. I’m proud of them.”

Grewal had three 3-pointers among his 26 points; Singh finished with 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals; and Ootsey and junior Jonah Brillowsky had 9 points each for the Golden Eagles with Brillowsky adding 10 rebounds.

“I know they’re young and inexperienced,” said Jackson of his team, which returned only three reserves from last year’s state squad. “But we’ve played almost a whole season now. We had an opportunity to go up five or six but then we missed all those free throws.”

Ah, yes, free throws. Wright would make 5 of 8 from the foul line but the rest of the Mariners were 3 for 17. Combine that with only three 3-pointers in 12 tries and 22 turnovers and it’s not the usual recipe for victory.

Wright would finish with a team-high 16 points, 11 of them in the crucial fourth quarter, as well as 7 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals. Turrell had 12 points, senior Braddock Duckworth had 9 points, and senior Austin McKay added 7 points for the Mariners.

Things don’t get easier for either team. Ferndale’s next game is at Mount Vernon on Wednesday, and Sehome is off until Saturday when the Mariners host Lynden.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A big thank you to Tyler Anderson of Whatcom Preps for the extra stats.

Ferndale 58, Sehome 55

Sehome              7       19       11      18—55

Ferndale           16       13       11      18—58

Sehome: Wright 16, McLin 2, Fleming 2, McAfee 5, McKay 7, B. Duckworth 9, Tanovan 2, C. Duckworth, Turrell 12.

Ferndale: Singh 11, Brillowsky 9, Thomas 3, Ootsey 9, Woods, Grewal 26, Vincent.

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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