Having competed against each other for four years, you’d think the all-stars in the Whatcom County Senior Classic girls basketball game Friday night would be pumped to beat each other one last time.
“We always care who wins, but having fun was most important,” said Danielle Tyler of Mount Baker.
They did keep score, of course, with Tyler’s Team Newcomb beating Team McLendon, 86-71. But when it was over, it was hard to tell the winners from the losers … because everybody had a smile on their face.
“I was laughing the whole time,” said Squalicum’s Maddy Blackwell. “It was really fun … just getting to play basketball and not having to worry about winning or losing.”
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The night started off with a 3-point contest and the hot shooting didn’t stop once the game began. Lynden Christian’s Isabela Hernandez won the shootout, beating Sehome’s Natalie Zender in the finals, 9-4.
Hernandez kept firing in the game, finishing with three more 3-pointers and a team-high 19 points for Team Newcomb, which hit 14 from beyond the arc.
Tyler added 16 points for Team Newcomb, Lynden’s Blakely Doerge had 15 including three 3-pointers, and Grace Sterk had 14.
“It was super fun,” said Lynden Christian’s Josie Bocci, who added two 3-pointers. “We wanted to score 100.”
For Team McLendon, Ferndale’s Kim Weden had 23, including three 3-pointers, Blackwell had 12 on four 3-pointers, and Weden’s Ferndale teammates Nicole Guessford and Rylee Weg had eight each.
But even in the midst of all the fun, the girls felt the emotions of playing their last high school game.
“It’s a little bit sad because it’s been such a big part of my life,” said Sehome’s Dana Ruffatto. “But we were having a good time.”
“It’s great wearing the Baker jersey one last time,” said Tyler, who was a sophomore starter on Mount Baker’s 2017 state championship team. “It means more than anything to me.”
“I’m trying not to think about it ending,” said Bocci, who played on LC’s 2018 state championship team and 2019 state runner-up.
For Doerge, one of only two seniors on the junior-dominated Lynden squad that placed fourth in state this year, Friday night’s game at Jake Maberry Gymnasium was a time to look back and to look forward.
“The last time in the Jake,” said Doerge of her home court. “I’ve played my last game ever. But I left my Lynden girls ready for next year.”
And what’s next? Doerge wasn’t looking too far ahead: “I’m really excited for softball.”
Team Newcomb 86, Team McLendon 71
Team McLendon 35 36 — 71
Team Newcomb 48 38 — 86
Team McLendon: Natalie Zender (Seh) 2, Nicole Guessford (Fern) 8, Maddy Blackwell (Squal) 12, Makenna Holz (Mer) 6, Lexi Groen (Mer) 4, Dezirae Toby (Lummi) 2, Lindsey Moore (Mer) 4, Dana Ruffatto (Seh), Kim Weden (Fern) 23, Jadyn Hawkinson (Squal) 2, Rylee Weg (Fern) 8.
Team Newcomb: Haylee Malone (MB) 3, Brynn Hallberg (Bla) 3, Josie Bocci (LC) 6, Danielle Tyler (MB) 16, Ashley Dickerson (Bla) 5, Isabela Hernandez (LC) 19, Blakely Doerge (Lyn) 15, Adelyn Pagels (Bell) 2, Jenna TenKley (NV) 3, Grace Sterk (LC) 14.
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.