The two former teammates enjoyed the reunion … until the game started. That’s when Ferndale coach Terri Yost and Mount Baker coach Tiffany Ramirez got back to being the competitors that made them all-stars on the court.
When they met for the first time as head coaches on Friday night, Jan. 7, it was Yost’s Golden Eagles who got the better of Ramirez’s visiting Mounties, 54-34, in the Northwest Conference contest. Ferndale raised its record to 5-3 overall and 4-2 in league play, while Mount Baker fell to 2-7 and 0-6.
“It was fun to see her down there (on the sidelines),” said Yost, who was a senior on the 2004-05 Mount Baker team that placed fourth at the Class 2A state tournament. “But I don’t even think about it (their playing days) any more. We’re so old.”
Ramirez, who as Tiffany Tyler was a sophomore on the 2005 Mounties team, reminded Yost, “I might be old, but you’re older.” The 2007 Mount Baker grad had to admit, however, “It was fun (coaching against Yost). It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were playing.”
On Friday, both teams were short-handed and could have used their coaches. Ferndale was missing senior Kaelee Bungard, who is out for the year with a knee injury, and starting point guard Ellie Ochoa. Mount Baker was missing its senior post, Taite Reardon, who injured her foot.
Friday’s game turned in the final five and a half minutes of the second quarter when Ferndale turned a tenuous 13-10 lead into an insurmountable 30-13 halftime edge.
Senior Hannah Barlean ignited the second-period surge with a steal and a pass to junior Ashley Lang for a layup, two 3-pointers, and an assist on junior Cailyn Kessen’s layup just before the halftime buzzer.
Barlean and Lang would finish with 8 points each. Sophomore Mallory Butenschoen led Ferndale with 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and another sophomore, Tia Gilday, came off the bench to score 11 points.
As they have all season, the Mounties were led by Maddy Barter. Although quiet in the first half — she only had one field goal until hitting a 3-pointer in the final minute of the second period — the junior guard erupted after intermission, finishing with a game-high 25 points.
“I decided it was time to turn into Mad Maddy,” she said of scoring 20 of her team’s 21 second-half points. As for being winless in NWC play, she said it was hard not to be frustrated, but she and her teammates were staying positive. “We battled really hard. I’m proud of our team.”
While no other Mountie scored more than three points, Ramirez was quick to praise her team’s effort and especially the play of junior Jojo Lindsey.
Like Barter, Barlean was looking forward to end of the regular season and the playoffs. Her goal was to play at state, something the Golden Eagles haven’t done since losing in regionals in 2014 and before that reaching the Class 3A state tournament in 2009.
“I’m excited,” said Barlean. “We’ve just missed going to state (her three previous years). I’d love to do it at the end of my Ferndale career. It would be the first time in forever.”
Which would mean her coach would have graduated four years before “forever” ago. That wasn’t something Ferndale assistant coach Brenda Ellis needed to be reminded of since 2004-05 was her first season as head coach at Mount Baker.
“It’s like they’re almost related,” Ellis said of coaching Yost and Ramirez, who actually were friends and neighbors in high school. “Either could have the ball at the end of the game. Both were dependable, team-first, self-motivated players. It was a gift to have them.”
Ferndale’s next game is Monday at Meridian, and Mount Baker is off until next Friday when the Mounties visit Bellingham.