Girls: Nooksack Takes District Title; Meridian, Lummi Advance

Nooksack Valley girls basketball coach Shane Wichers got to take down the net, got a “Gatorade” shower, and most importantly, got the second of his three goals.

Wichers’s Pioneers claimed the Class 1A District 1 championship Saturday night, Feb. 11, when they dominated Lynden Christian, 55-45, and cut down the net at Lynden High School.

“Our first goal was to win the league, and this was our second goal,” said Wichers, whose team rolled through the Northwest Conference without a loss. “Then there’s the next one.”

That would a state championship, but that will have to wait. Although Nooksack Valley is ranked No.1 in every state poll, the Pioneers still have to play a “crossover” game with the District 2 fifth-place finisher next Saturday. The winner of that game will earn a spot in the state regionals.

And despite the loss Saturday, two-time defending state champion still has an opportunity to reach state. First the Lyncs will play Meridian in the district consolation final on Tuesday. The Trojans advanced earlier Saturday with a 54-34 victory Blaine in a loser-out contest.

In the Class 1B District 1/2/3 girls tournament, Lummi Nation overcame another injury to defeat Pope John Paul II, 44-30, in a loser-out contest on Saturday.

The victory moved the Lady Blackhawks into the tri-district quarterfinals where they will go on the road Tuesday to face Orcas Island for the third time. 

Class 1A

Nooksack Valley 55, Lynden Christian 45

Round 2 of the Nooksack Valley-Lynden Christian heavyweight bouts was closer than the first one — the Pioneers took the regular-season contest, 66-52 — but the script was similar. Nooksack took a big early lead and then never let the Lyncs get closer than eight points.

“We knew it would be a battle,” said Wichers, whose “Gatorade” victory shower was really a bunch of excited teenage girls spraying him with water. “It doesn’t matter where we play them.”

With the purple-powered Valley fans filling Jake Maberry Gymnasium and giving their team the energy it needed, the Pioneers scored 23 points on the proud LC defense in the first quarter. The main culprit, as usual, was junior Devin Coppinger.

The all-state guard had eight of her game-high 24 points in the first period and for the rest of the game seemed to hit a shot every time the Lyncs drew near. Her jumper with two seconds left gave Nooksack a 13-point lead at halftime. Another jumper with four seconds left gave Nooksack a 10-point lead at the end of the third quarter.

“They took us out of our rhythm in the first half,” said Lynden Christian coach Brady Bomber. “We hung around and put pressure on them. But then (Hallie) Kamphouse or Coppinger would hit really tough shots.”

Kamphouse would finish with 10 points, junior Lainey Kimball had 8 points, and senior Taylor Lentz had 6 points for the Pioneers.

“This is exactly what we wanted, what we worked for,” said Kamphouse, who hit three big 3-pointers.

As for winning the state title that eluded them last March when they lost to LC in the championship game, the senior sharpshooter said it has always been in the back of their minds.

“It lights a fire for us,” Kamphouse said. “But we can’t focus on it. We focus on who we play next.”

That team has yet to be decided, but the Pioneers, who improved to 22-1, know they’ll be playing next Saturday at 1 p.m. at King’s High School. The winner of Tuesday’s Lynden Christian-Meridian consolation final will play at 3 p.m. at King’s against the District 2 fourth-place finisher.

Freshman Ella Fritts came off the bench to spark Lynden Christian with 14 points and tenacious defense. Sophomore star Grace Hintz had 13 points despite the constant attention of Nooksack Valley’s defense. And senior Demi Dykstra had 12 points for the Lyncs.

“You celebrate the growth from the first time we played them,” said Bomber. “You tip your cap (to Nooksack). Then you regroup and play again.”

Nooksack Valley 55, Lynden Christian 45

Lynden Christian              15        5       11       14—45

Nooksack Valley              23       10        8       14—55

Lynden Christian: Hagen, De. Dykstra 12, Herwerden 2, Fritts 14, Hintz 13, DeJong, Poag, Arnold 4.

Nooksack Valley: Kimball 8, Kamphouse 10, Coppinger 24, Hoekema, Lentz 6, Anderson 3, Perry 4, DeHoog.

Meridian 54, Blaine 34

The Trojans turned up the heat on defense in the second quarter and got hot on offense, going on a 16-2 run to end the first half and take down the Borderites on Saturday.

“They came out hot,” said Meridian senior Maris Baklund of the Borderites’ early lead. “We had to amp up our defense and our energy.”

With the score tied at 15, the Trojans went on a 9-0 run to take control of the game. After Deja Dube’s shot temporarily stopped the Meridian streak, the Trojans went on a 7-0 run to go into halftime up, 31-17.

“They have a well-rounded team and they were all scoring today,” said Blaine coach Gracie Phelps. “ They went on that run, and we didn’t have an answer.”

The Blaine defense wanted to focus on Meridian’s leading scorer, senior Avery Neal, who contributed 9 points, including a big three-point play in the second-quarter run. But she wasn’t the scoring leader on Saturday.

Junior Malia McCauley continue her hot play with a game-high 15 points, including two 3-pointers and eight points in the third period when the Trojans stretched their lead from 13 to 23. Baklund added 13 points, and sophomore Brooklyn Fuller had 8 points.

“McCauley hit some big shots for us, and so did Maris,” said Meridian coach Bree Park. “And B (Fuller) was a force on defense. I’m so thankful she’s a sophomore. So this was a full team win.”

The win puts the Trojans, who are 8-13 on the year, in the consolation final against Lynden Christian, a team that beat Meridian by 42 points earlier this season.

But Neal, who along with Baklund was a freshman on the 2020 Meridian team that reached state, wasn’t worried about Tuesday’s game.

“This is one of my favorite years,” she said. “We’re all so connected. Everyone expected it to be a rough season for us. We overcame a lot of obstacles, and we came together as a team.”

As for Blaine, which had its season end at 4-18, the win-loss record didn’t tell the whole story either. Neither did the score of the game. Even when they were down by 20, the Borderites on the bench were cheering their teammates as if it were a game-winning basket.

Phelps praised her leaders on the court — juniors Jordyn Vezzetti, Deja Dube, and Alicia Ball — and her team’s emotional leaders — seniors Shaelyn Shields and Gillian Rea, who played their final game on Saturday.

Vezzetti would finish with 11 points on Saturday, Dube had 8, and junior Amelia Berkley had 6.

“I’m so proud of them,” said Phelps of the whole team. “After every single game, I’ve had two or three people from the community talk about how positive they are. They work hard, and they never give up. We all had so much fun, and that’s all we can ask for.”

Meridian 54, Blaine 34

Blaine              12          5        8       9—34

Meridian          15       16       18       5—54

Blaine: Shields 4, Rea, Vezzetti 11, Bowman, Berkeley 6, Ball 2, Puls 2, Price, Dube 8, Daniels.

Meridian: Fuller 8, McCauley 15, Baklund 13, K. Neal 3, Bressler, A. Neal 9, Benson 4, Hlushchenko.


Monday, Feb. 6

Play-in game

#5 Blaine 48, #4 Mount Baker 36 (loser out)

Wednesday, Feb. 8


#2 Lynden Christian 70, #3 Meridian 34

#1 Nooksack Valley 98, Blaine 21

Saturday, Feb. 11

At Lynden High

Consolation round

Meridian 54, Blaine 34 (loser out)

Championship game

Nooksack Valley 55, Lynden Christian 45 (winner first, to bi-district playoff)

Tuesday, Feb. 14

Consolation final

At Lynden High

Lynden Christian (20-3) vs. Meridian (8-13), 5 p.m. (winner to bi-district playoff, loser out)

Class 1B

Lummi Nation 44, Pope John Paul II 30

The Lady Blackhawks were already without injured starters Keyonee Morris and Serena Pantalia and then had starting point guard Jemma James roll her ankle in the first quarter Saturday.

But seniors and first cousins Aliesha and Raven Solomon took up the slack on offense, scoring 19 and 15 points, respectively, and the whole team defended so well that the Eagles never scored in double figures in any quarter.

Junior Hazel Haley also stepped up, scoring all six of her points in the fourth quarter, as fifth-seeded Lummi Nation earned its 17th victory in 20 games this season. The loss eliminated the 12th-seeded Eagles and ended their season at 5-9.

With the win, Lummi Nation moves into the double-elimination portion of the tri-district tournament and faces a familiar foe on Tuesday. The two teams split their earlier games with the Blackhawks winning during the regular season, 49-37, and Orcas Island taking a 55-35 win in the District 1 semifinals.

Lummi Nation 44, Pope John Paul II 30

Pope John Paul II            9         6         7         8—30

Lummi Nation               17       11         6       10—44

Pope John Paul II: Siu 2, Ames 11, A. Kondrat 9, C. Larson 2, Hamilton, Antles 2, Valpiani, I. Larson 4, Camp, L. Kondrat

Lummi Nation: H. Haley 6, M. Morris, A. Solomon 19, R. Solomon 15, James 2 , Kapuni-Lopez, Jones, Lawrence, Williams, Toby, J. Haley 2.


Saturday, Feb. 11

Play-in games

#6 Crosspoint 55, #11 Puget Sound Adventist 14 (loser out)

#7 Darrington 59, #10 Northwest Yeshiva 24 (loser out)

#5 Lummi Nation 44, #12 Pope John Paul II 30 (loser out)

#9 Crescent 43, #8 Sound Christian Academy 34 (loser out)

Tuesday, Feb. 14

First round

Crosspoint (14-7) at #3 Evergreen Lutheran (13-2)

Darrington (12-9) at #2 Mount Vernon Christian (19-3)

Lummi Nation (17-3) at #4 Orcas Island (10-10)

Crescent (8-8) at #1 Neah Bay (16-1)

Friday, Feb. 17

Consolation round

First-round losers (loser out)

First-round losers (loser out)


First-round winners

First-round winners

Saturday, Feb. 19

At Mount Vernon Christian

Consolation winners (winner fifth, to state regionals, loser out)

Semifinal losers (winner third, loser fourth, both to state regionals)

Semifinal winners (winner first, loser second, both to state regionals)

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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