In a crazy and chaotic Week 5 spoiled by COVID outbreaks and snow storms, only three of our Whatcom County girls basketball teams — Meridian, Lynden Christian, and Nooksack Valley — managed to get games in.
The host Trojans swept both their games in the Meridian Holiday Tournament. The Lyncs and Pioneers each split their two games in LC’s Lynden Christmas Classic. For a look at Tuesday’s games at both tourneys, click on Tuesday’s Games. For a look at Wednesday’s games, click on Wednesday’s Games.
And for the all-tournament teams and official standings of the Lynden Christmas Classic, see below.
Since most of our teams weren’t in action this past week, it seems like a good time to step back and look at where each squad is as we pass the halfway point of the regular season. So, we’ve come up with midseason report cards for each team using the following grading system:
Outstanding: Teams that have reached their high goals so far this season or that have done better than expected.
Satisfactory: Teams that are about where they were expected to be after the first half of the season and have a chance to do even better.
Needs improvement: Teams that will need to up their game in the second half of the season to reach their preseason goals.
Incomplete: Teams that are difficult to judge because of early-season scheduling, injuries, and other circumstances.
For a look at the midseason report cards for our county boys teams, check out Whatcom Hoops boys midseason grades.
Here’s where our girls teams stand after Week 5 (Dec. 27-Jan. 1):
Nooksack Valley (6-2 overall, 4-0, tied for second in Northwest Conference): With its impressive victory over Lynden Christian, the Pioneers made a statement to the rest of the league and perhaps the state. They have the NWC’s best player in Devin Coppinger, but they are more than a one-woman show and when they play as a team they are tough to beat.
Lynden (5-2, 5-0, first place in NWC): Despite a new coach and lots of new varsity faces, it should come as no surprise that the scrappy Lions are in the hunt for another league title. They are at the top of the NWC standings and in first place in RPI among the district’s Class 2A teams. The question is: Will the youngsters be ready when they hit the late-January stretch of Nooksack Valley, Ferndale and Lynden Christian?
Meridian (7-2, 4-1, tied for fourth in NWC): The veteran Trojans seem to be hitting their stride despite losing their starting point guard for the season. With Nooksack and LC getting the publicity, Meridian is a team that is dangerous and hungry and sports a defense that will keep the Trojans in every game. Don’t be surprised if they are there when it comes down to a winner-take-all battle royale in the league tournament.
Lynden Christian (6-4, 4-1, tied for fourth in NWC): Having graduating the entire starting lineup from the best Class 1A team in the state, it’s tempting to give LC an “incomplete” as we see how the new Lyncs develop. But one of the most difficult schedules in the state and a difficult loss to rival Nooksack Valley seem to have matured and fueled this group. To make their own mark, however, they’ll need to prove themselves against the other contenders.
Squalicum (3-2, 3-2, tied for sixth in NWC): The Storm are sitting about where they hoped — in the middle of the district’s RPI standings with a little breathing room from the dreaded loser-out games. The next two weeks will offer some of the biggest challenges against top-level NWC teams, but also the biggest opportunities to move into that top level.
Ferndale (4-3, 3-2, tied for sixth in NWC): The Golden Eagles are perched just below the NWC and district leaders and are a dangerous team heading into the second half of the season and beyond. The key will be back-to-back games against rivals Oak Harbor and Mount Vernon in mid-January that may well determine which two teams move on to the Class 3A playoffs.
Sehome (1-5, 1-3, tied for ninth in NWC): The Mariners are still putting the pieces together and like most teams are looking to continue to improve in the second half of the season. Having scored more than 40 points only once in their last five games, finding more offensive weapons may make the difference when the Mariners head into the playoffs.
Bellingham (2-5, 1-3, tied for ninth in NWC): Like their city rival Sehome, the inexperienced Bayhawks are searching for more offense as they seek to move up the NWC and district standings. And like the Mariners, Bellingham needs to finish strong if it wants to avoid the loser-out, first-round games of the Class 2A district tournament.
Blaine (1-4, 0-4, tied for 14th in NWC): The good news for the Borderites is that regardless of their regular-season record, they’ll be in the Class 1A league tournament with a shot at state. The bad news is that Blaine probably would have to upset two of the big three — Nooksack Valley, Lynden Christian, and Meridian — to move on to Yakima, which means the young and inexperienced Borderites have a month to reach that level.
Mount Baker (2-5, 0-4, tied for 14th in NWC): Like Blaine, the Mounties don’t have to worry about their league standings and can concentrate on improving the final month of the regular-season. And like the Borderites, Mount Baker is guaranteed of a 1A playoff spot, so the young Mounties can gain experience playing against — and trying to upset — some of the best teams in the state.
Lummi Nation (3-3, 2-1, second in Northwest 1B League): Besides dealing with COVID and weather conditions, the Blackhawks only have five more regular-season games because rival schools are unable to field girls teams. Lummi Nation also is looking at a possible addition to its roster, so the Blackhawks may field a much different squad as they head into the postseason.
Four of the top five teams in the Northwest Conference square off in showdowns this week. Undefeated Burlington-Edison is at Lynden Christian on Monday, and Meridian travels to Nooksack Valley in an important Class 1A contest on Thursday.
Monday, Jan. 3: Anacortes at Blaine, Lynden at Sehome, Burlington-Edison at Lynden Christian, Mount Vernon at Squalicum
Tuesday, Jan. 4: Bellingham at Lakewood, Ferndale at Sedro-Woolley, Oak Harbor at Meridian, Nooksack Valley at Mount Baker
Wednesday, Jan. 5: Squalicum at Lynden
Thursday, Jan. 6: Meridian at Nooksack Valley
Friday, Jan. 7: Lynden Christian at Bellingham, Blaine at Lakewood, Mount Baker at Ferndale, Sehome at Anacortes
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.