The Best of the Best #2 (tie): 2007
Whatcom County high schools have produced some amazing basketball seasons, but of those 100-plus years of state championship seasons and all the other great successes at state tournaments, which years were the best for the county as a whole?
Well, we at www.whatcomhoops.com came up with our top 12 greatest years of boys basketball. Why 12? Because a top 10 just wasn’t enough.
Before you start arguing with our picks, remember that any time you pick the “best” or “greatest” you have to be somewhat subjective. That is really true when looking at seasons that span more than a century of changes.
For example, from the first state tournament in 1923 until 1957, our county’s schools, both big and small, almost always competed in the one “big” state tournament that included all the big-city teams. It may be no coincidence that we had to wait until the new Class A tournament for smaller schools was formed in 1958 for our first state title.
Then there’s the fact that we have more schools now — 12 — than we had for most of the past 100 years, and they are competing in four different classifications (3A, 2A, 1A and 1B). So it’s easier for more teams in the 21st century to qualify and place at state than it was in the 20th century.
Finally, this is not meant to rank the greatest teams or even best tournaments, which would be completely subjective (and maybe we’ll do that sometime in the future).
Our goal was to rank the county’s best years by looking at all the county teams’ accomplishments, particularly their state finishes. The only accomplishment we required to be eligible for the top 10 was that at least one county team had to have won a state championship that year.
And now, let’s count down the top 12 years for Whatcom County boys basketball:
So what could top 1996’s record six state teams and four trophies? Well, two years did that one better with six state qualifiers and an all-time best five trophies for Whatcom County teams. It was accomplished first in 2007 with Lynden again leading the way, winning the 2A state title, its seventh state crown. Tournament MVP Chris Bolt and Brady Bomber led the talented Lions, who demolished undefeated Mark Morris in the finals. Mount Baker added a fourth-place finish in 2A behind Pete Galbraith. In the 1A tournament, Rich Skillman guided Nooksack Valley to a third-place finish, and Andrei Lintz led Meridian to sixth place. Lummi Nation earned the county’s fifth state trophy, taking seventh in the 1B tournament thanks to Jordan Wilson. Squalicum qualified for the 3A tournament, but would have to wait a year to begin its four-year run of state trophies.
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.