Hannah Barlean and the Ferndale girls basketball team know how to go out with a bang.
The Golden Eagles senior hit her final shot — appropriately enough a 3-pointer — with a minute and a half remaining to put the finishing touches on Ferndale’s 63-27 Northwest Conference victory over Bellingham on a festive Tuesday night, Feb. 1.
“The atmosphere was amazing,” said Ferndale coach Terri Yost, whose squad raised its record to 9-6 overall and 8-5 in NWC play. “They were hyped up. It’s a really nice way to go out.”
And when Yost says “go out,” she means it literally.
The contest was billed as the final girls basketball game in the current gym — although technically it was the final regular-season home game and it’s possible the Golden Eagles could play a district playoff game at home next week.
Either way, once the season is over, the gym and much of the current school will be torn down and replaced with a new Ferndale High School, including a new gymnasium.
To commemorate the facility’s history, Yost and assistant Brenda Ellis invited back former players who were honored at halftime Tuesday. The game also was Senior Night, when Barlean, teammate Kaelee Bungard, and seven of the 10 cheerleaders were recognized. And to make the large crowd even more enthusiastic, it was Youth Night.
“We were enjoying it,” said Barlean, who only went back in in the fourth quarter so that she could get a well-deserved standing ovation when she was taken out after her final basket. “It’s always fun to win on Senior Night. And it was the last (girls) game in this gym. It was amazing.”
Both teams started slow offensively, but it didn’t take long for the Golden Eagles to get going. A 10-0 run to start the second quarter put them up by 18 and the lead was 30 at the end of three periods. Ferndale’s primary weapon was the 3-pointer as the Golden Eagles made 11 for the game.
Junior Madisyn Butenschoen led Ferndale with 14 points, including a pair of 3s, but it truly was a team effort. Junior Ashley Lang had 11 points and three 3s, Barlean had 10 points and two more 3s, sophomore Tia Gilday had 9 points, and Maleah Singson had 6 points.
The Bayhawks, meanwhile, never did get going against Ferndale’s tenacious man-to-man defense. They managed nine points in the first period but couldn’t reach that figure in any of the other quarters.
Junior Ellie Wolverton did her best with 15 points, including three 3-pointers, but Ferndale only allowed her two points after halftime. Senior Kaycee French added 7 points, but senior Mazy Wright, Bellingham’s leading scorer all season, was held to 4 points, about 10 below her average.
“We knew it would be a lot of fun tonight, but we didn’t respond,” said Bellingham coach James Wolverton, whose squad fell to 5-10 overall and 4-8 in league. “They (the Bayhawks) played hard, but they didn’t play well.”
Fortunately, the season isn’t over for either team. The Golden Eagles wrap up their regular season at Blaine on Thursday. The Bayhawks finish their regular season against Mount Vernon also on the road on Thursday.
Then come the playoffs, which both teams automatically qualified for. Bellingham will play in the Class 2A district tournament, which starts on Thursday, Feb. 10. Ferndale will open Class 3A district play on Monday, Feb. 7.
“We’re peaking at the right time,” said Yost. “We want to keep playing. We want to continue having fun.”