Girls Preview: New Season Sees Old Powers, New Faces

Whatcom County boys and girls basketball teams are kicking off the 2021 season, and Whatcom Hoops wants to prepare our fans to watch their favorite teams … and all the teams.

Here’s a look at our 11 girls teams. For the boys preview, check out https://www.whatcomhoops.com/boys-preview-new-season-brings-new-look-for-teams/. 

Alexa Mee

BELLINGHAM

Coach: Darcie Hill

Last season: 11-10 overall, 5-8 in Northwest Conference (tied for ninth), reached Class 2A district tournament

Top returnees: Alexa Mee (Sr.), Adi McKay (Sr.), Mazy Wright (Jr.), Kristina Joag (Soph.)

Top newcomers: Genevieve Blum (Fr.)

Outlook: With the foundation of returnees McKay, Wright and second-team all-NWC Mee, Bellingham is looking to make the most of this “May Madness” season. With a new coach, new plays, and a new squad, the Red Raiders’ aim is to keep it simple and sharp, to be ready to play hard, and to have fun.

Coach’s quote: “What a perfect situation to play with extra fire this season. We have a renewed gratitude for getting the opportunity to play high school basketball, and the sense that any game could be the last. We are all in!”

Krystin Kamrath

BLAINE

Coach: Ryan Pike

Last season: 5-16 overall, 2-11 in NWC (12th), reached Class 2A district tournament

Top returnees: Hailey Pike (Jr.), Krystin Kamrath (Jr.), Becca Solomon (Sr.)

Top newcomers: The freshman class

Outlook: Blaine will be one of the youngest squads in the NWC with only three upperclassmen returning. Pike and Kamrath proved they could play in the league even as sophomores, and will be the foundation for the Borderites’ rebuilding program that will include some talented youngsters.

Coach’s quote: “We are excited to have a season even if it is a short one. I am looking forward to seeing how the young girls make the transition from middle school to high school and if our three upperclassmen can help shoulder the load and expedite the transition.”

Jamie Johnson

FERNDALE

Coach: Terri Yost

Last season: 16-7 overall, 10-3 in NWC (fourth), reached Class 3A district tournament

Top returnees: Jamie Johnson (Sr.), Josie Cline (Sr.), Kaelee Bungard (Jr.), Hannah Barlean (Jr.), Ellie Ochoa (Soph.)

Top newcomers: Alyvia Semu (Jr.), Madisyn Butenschoen (Soph.), Cailyn Kessen (Soph.)

Outlook: Ferndale returns a strong core from the squad that just missed getting to state by one game last season. The Golden Eagles won’t be quite as big as they have been the past couple of years, but they again will be quick and athletic. And with Johnson, an all-NWC forward, Ferndale has one of the top returning players in the league.

Coach’s quote: “We are excited to be back in the gym together. This is a fun group who come every day ready to compete and get better.”

Alayla Solomon

LUMMI NATION

Coach: Sarah Tom

Last season: 17-10 overall, 10-2 in Northwest 1B League (tied for first), reached first round Class 1B state tournament

Top returnees: Alayla Solomon (Sr.), Aleisha Solomon (Soph.), Raven Solomon (Soph.), Shaylynn Jojola (Sr.), Jordyn Casimir (Jr.) 

Top newcomers: Hazel Haley (Fr.), Nellie Umtuch (Fr.), Connie Grant (Sr.), Aiyonna Morris (Sr.), Serena Pantalia (Sr.), Keyonee Morris (Fr.)

Outlook:

Sisters Alayla and Aleisha and cousin Raven are returning starters from last year’s state-tournament squad, but Lummi Nation will be young with Alayla, fellow senior Jojola, and Casimir, who returns after taking off a season, as the only upperclassmen with extensive experience.

 Coach’s quote: “I’ve coached these girls since fifth grade. They are a special group who really are family.”

Anna VanderYacht

LYNDEN

Coach: Aaron Bogaard

Last season: 27-1 overall, 12-1 in NWC (second), Class 2A state champion

Top returnees: Anna VanderYacht (Sr.), Faith Baar (Sr.), Maddi Canales (Sr.), Riley Anderson (Sr.), Sam Villars (Jr.)

Top newcomers: Jasmine Johnson (Soph.), Adia Newcomb (Soph.), Kalanie Newcomb (Fr.), Haylee Koetje (Fr.)

Outlook: Despite graduating another outstanding senior class, Lynden returns a talented and experienced core that should make another run at an “unofficial” league title (and in a normal year maybe a state title). The key will be having the new group of girls buy into the Lynden mindset of  “team is greater than I” that has made the Lions the state’s best Class 2A program the past four years.

Coach’s quote: “The program is at an all-time high. The wheel’s not broken here at Lynden. We just need to find ways to keep it greased up and rolling.”

Lexi Hernandez

LYNDEN CHRISTIAN

Coach: Brady Bomber

Last season: 27-1 overall, 13-0 in NWC (first), Class 1A state champion

Top returnees: Kenadi Fay (Sr.), Lexi Hernandez (Sr.), Emily Mellema (Sr.), Kiley Roetcisoender (Sr.), Libby Stump (Jr.), Paige TeVelde (Sr.), Alli VanKooten (Jr.)

Top newcomers: Charley Dykstra (Jr.), Demi Dykstra (Soph.), Lexi Kaptein (Jr.)

Outlook: Lynden Christian returns 10 players from a team that was considered one of the best in the state regardless of classification, and with talent and depth at every position, the Lyncs normally would be shooting for their fifth Class 1A state title in eight years. With no playoffs, however, LC will have to settle for giving their outstanding senior class one last outstanding season.

Coach’s quote: “We are thankful for the opportunity to begin our season. It has been a long time since we have been able to play together, and we want to make sure we enjoy every moment.”

Maddie Bowler (Kelli Terpsma photo)

MERIDIAN

Coach: Vic Wolffis

Last season: 16-13 overall, 6-7 in NWC (tied for seventh), reached first round of Class 1A state tournament

Top returnees: Maddie Bowler (Sr.), Skyleigh James (Jr.), Maris Baklund (Soph.), Finnley Claeys (Jr.), Brynn Neal (Sr.), Avery Neal (Soph.), Ellie De Waard (Jr.), Emilee Swanson (Soph.), Kadance Blankers (Jr.)

Top newcomers: Jolena Hoefer (Jr.)

Outlook: Meridian graduated only one player from last year’s state squad, and returns a balanced lineup with talented and interchangeable parts. With Bowler and Brynn Neal the only seniors, the team may be young, but both the junior and sophomore classes have experience against the state’s best competition and in a normal year would be looking to make another state run.

Coach’s quote: “We have plenty of great attitude and coachability, great assistant coaches including volunteers, and an eager, supportive parent and athletic fan base. As always, the top end to two-thirds of the league is really tough, but I believe this is a group that will compete well every night ”

Ripley Reardon

MOUNT BAKER

Coach: Ken McLendon

Last season: 12-12 overall, 6-7 in NWC (tied for seventh), reached Class 1A district tournament

Top returnees: Ripley Reardon (Sr.), Trinity Anderson (Jr.), Madison Barter (Soph.), Madelyn Valum (Jr.)

Top newcomers: Lauren Valum (Fr.), Jenna Wineinger (Fr.)

Outlook: Mount Baker was hit hard by the loss of senior leader Petra Allred to a season-ending injury. Still, the Mounties should be improved as they return most of their squad, including Madelyn Valum who was injured much of last year. The biggest challenge for the players will be adjusting to new roles in a new system with a completely new coaching staff.

Coach’s quote: “Embrace the challenge.”

Jenna Compton

NOOKSACK VALLEY

Coach: Shane Wichers

Last season: 20-9 overall, 9-4 in NWC (fifth), reached first round of Class 1A state tournament

Top returnees: Jenna Compton (Sr.), Maya Galley (Sr.), McKenna Wichers (Jr.), Tehya Moore (Jr.), Hallie Kamphouse (Soph.), Elie VanBerkum (Jr.), Renae Hoekema (Jr.), Taylor Lentz (Soph.)

Top newcomers: Devin Coppinger (Fr.), Lainey Kimball (Fr.)

Outlook: Nooksack Valley graduated only one player from last year’s state squad, and is loaded with talent, depth and experience. With seniors Galley and Compton, an all-NWC forward, providing leadership, the young Pioneers will be pushing to join the league’s top tier again. 

Coach’s quote: “I’m excited to get all of these girls back together on the court and to see what they are capable of in this short six-week season. It should be a fun season.”

Aspen Garrison

SEHOME

Coach: Anye Turner

Last season: 14-9 overall, 8-5 in NWC (sixth), reached Class 2A district tournament

Top returnees: Aspen Garrison (Sr.), Kaylee Wilson (Sr.), Maddie Schumacher (Jr.), Ava Lunny (Jr.), Ava Collins (Jr.)

Top newcomers: Hailey Henderson (Sr.)

Outlook: Garrison, an all-NWC center, is the big name and the big gun, but the Mariners return a solid foundation from a squad that might have gone to state had Garrison not been hurt in the playoffs. Point guard Wilson will provide the leadership, but with only two seniors, it’ll be up to the youngsters to push Sehome into the top tier of the NWC.

Coach’s quote: “We have a good group of upperclassmen that will compete every night.”

Hannah Thurston

SQUALICUM

Coach: Ray Ootsey

Last season: 6-14 overall, 3-10 in NWC (11th)

Top returnees: Rachel Heinke (Sr.), Kylie Blackwell (Soph.), Hannah Thurston (Sr.), Izzy Peters (Sr.), Grace Schroder (Sr.)

Top newcomers: Mari Binning (Fr.), Makayla Heaton (Fr.), Callie Meachran (Soph.), Corinthian Sykes-Stewart  (Fr.), Riley Wolf  (Jr.)

Outlook: Like all our squads, Squalicum will find it difficult to have a true vision about the team until the Storm hit the court. Other than trying to give the seniors a good and fun experience, the main goal for coach Ootsey will be building up the young athletes.

Coach’s quote: “We’re continuing to build a good foundation of competitors. ”

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