The Best of the Best #5: 2015
NOTE: Thanks to a faithful viewer, we missed one team’s placing at state and had to reshuffle the rankings for our final five years starting with 2015.
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:
Five teams reached state and four placed, but it was the county’s smallest school that provided the year’s biggest moment when Lummi Nation won its first-ever boys basketball state championship. Dean Williams and Trazil Lane led the Blackhawks to a 27-0 record, their eighth state appearance in 10 years, and their third state trophy. Lane would go on to be the 1B player of the year two years later in leading Lummi back to the state finals. Lynden Christian came out of nowhere in 2015 to reach the 1A state title game and finish second behind Zach Roetcisoender. Three county teams reached the 2A tournament with Sehome getting hot behind Leighton Kingma at the right time and finishing fourth, Josiah Westbrook leading Squalicum to a fifth-place finish, and Lynden, behind Scott Hastings, qualifying for state but losing out in regionals.
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.