Holiday Roundup (Friday): Whatcom Teams Advance To Finals

Whatcom teams advanced into Saturday’s championship games of four holiday tournaments after big wins on Friday, Dec. 29.

In the Trojan Storm Winter Classic at Meridian, Squalicum will meet Meridian in the boys final at 4 p.m. and Squalicum will face Stanwood in the girls final at 6 p.m.

In the Lynden Christmas Classic at Lynden Christian, the Lynden girls will take on Snohomish at 5:15 p.m., and in the Mount Vernon Christian Christmas Classic, the Lummi Nation boys will battle Wahkiakum at 9 p.m.

Here’s a look at all the tournament action on Friday:

Lynden Christmas Classic

In a battle between the top two ranked Class 2A teams, No.2 Lynden made a statement with a decisive 64-35 victory over previously unbeaten No.1 Prosser.

The Lions (10-1) were fierce right out of the gate, running off 11 straight points to go up 17-5 after the first quarter. The lead was 20 at the half and stretched to as much as 30 in the second half.

“This was an RPI game,” said Lynden coach Rob Adams of the WIAA’s formula for deciding state tournament seeding. “We were excited tonight; this is what we’re looking for to get better. We’re turning a corner but we’re not there yet.”

Maybe not, but the Lions were there Friday night especially on defense. Lynden put the reins on the Mustangs, who came into the game averaging 74 points, holding them to just five points in each of the first two quarters

“We expected it to be an intense, high-level game, and we played with the intensity I expected,” said senior Haylee Koetje. “Defense wins games and we take a lot of pride in our defense.”

On offense, Koetje led the attack with 21 points, including a pair of 3s and nine points in the third quarter as the Lions pulled away.

Sophomore Payton Mills sparked the early barrage with 13 of her 15 points in the first half. Senior Mallary Villars and freshman Finley Parcher had 10 points each and combined for five 3-pointers, and junior Kiki York added 8 points.

Lynden Christian couldn’t make it an all-Whatcom final, falling to Snohomish, 52-38, in Friday’s late semifinal.

A cold second quarter put the Lyncs (6-4) behind by 10 at the half, and they couldn’t make up the difference against the 3A Panthers.

“We wanted to grow in our ability to get after it,” said Lynden Christian coach Brady Bomber, who only suited up two players who saw significant varsity playing time last season. “We showed it tonight. We want to build habits, the standard of excellence we want to pursue. They make me proud of this group.”

One of the returnees, sophomore Ella Fritts had 11 points despite behind hounded by Snohomish’s diamond-and-one defense. Junior Allison Shumate battled inside for another 11 points, and Tabby DeJong  and junior Danya Dykstra had 6 points each, Dykstra’s coming on LC’s only two 3-pointers.

“No one likes to lose,” said DeJong, the team’s only senior. “But we schedule hard games for a reason. We’d rather face adversity now then see it later and not be ready. We want that challenge.”

The Lyncs will face Prosser on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Trojan Storm Winter Classic (Girls)

Squalicum jumped out to an big early lead to defeat NWC rival Blaine, 55-33, in Friday’s first semifinal. The Storm (4-5) will now play Stanwood in the championship game on Saturday at 6 p.m. in Meridian’s north gym.

Seven different players scored as the Storm blew out to a 21-5 lead after one quarter and after holding the Borderites to only two points in the second quarter, Squalicum was up 31-7 at the half.

Senior guard Mari Binning had a game-high 18 points to lead Squalicum, senior forward Caitlyn Richardson had 8 points, and senior guard Makayla Heaton and freshman guard Addison Kettman added 7 points each.

Blaine (4-5) played the Storm even in the second half but couldn’t make up the big deficit. Senior forward Jordyn Vezzetti paced the Borderites with 13 points, senior guard Deja Dube had 9 points, and freshman Teia Dube had 6 points. 

The Borderites will take on Friday Harbor in the consolation final Saturday at 2 p.m. It will be a rematch of Blaine’s opener, which the Borderites won 28-10, in a game stopped at halftime because of the ferry schedule. And in another scheduling quirk, the Borderites will play the Storm again in a NWC contest on Jan. 6 at Squalicum. 

Meridian easily won its consolation game Friday, beating Overlake, 46-16. The Trojans (3-7) will face Bellevue Christian at 2 p.m. Saturday in consolation play.

On Friday, all nine Trojans scored with freshman Eden Bernardy leading the way with 12 points and another freshman, Savannah Storgaard, adding 6 points. Junior Booklyn Fuller, senior Allie Richter, and sophomore Taya Benson had 5 points each. 

Trojan Storm Winter Classic (Boys)

Squalicum moved into the championship game with a convincing 52-38 victory over Centralia, and the host Trojans knocked off Steilacoom, 49-34, to advance into the final against the Storm.

The Storm (4-5) took a 10-point lead at the half thanks to a putback by sophomore Laki Fagaautau at the buzzer. The Tigers cut the lead to four in the third quarter but Squalicum never let them get closer. Junior Malakai Smith’s 3-pointer with just under two minutes left pushed the lead to double-digits.

Meridian (5-4)  got off to a slow start on offense but its defense held the Sentinels to an even slower start as the Trojans went into halftime with a 21-13 lead. They steadily pulled away after that, finishing with an unselfish 15 assists and a quick-handed 18 steals.

Senior Christian Clawson led Meridian with 14 points and 8 rebounds, junior Jaeger Fyfe had 9 points, junior James Hedahl had 7 points and 5 rebounds, junior Talon Jenkins and freshman Nate Payne had 6 points each, and Cohen Fuller had a team-high 4 assists. 

Top of the Peak Holiday Tournament

The Nooksack Valley girls lost for the first time this season, but it took one of the best schools in all of Idaho to stop the Pioneers, 55-48, in the championship game Friday.

After leading Lake City of Coeur d’Alene, the No.2-ranked 5A school in Idaho, by six at the half, the Pioneers (10-1) had a cold third period and fell behind by 12. Twice Nooksack closed to within six but couldn’t catch the Timberwolves.

Senior guard Devin Coppinger showed why she is headed for the University of Washington by scoring 22 points, hitting four 3-pointers, going 4 of 4 from the line, and grabbing 6 rebounds, and 3 steals. Senior forward Tana Hoekema had 10 points, and senior Lainey Kimball added 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists.

“We fought back twice, so I’m super proud of our effort,” said Nooksack coach Shane Wichers, whose only loss  last season on the way to the Class 1A state championship was in the same tournament.

“But we didn’t convert opportunities on offense and had a few breakdowns defensively. And against good teams, those things make a big difference. But it will only make us better because we learned a lot in the three games we played at Glacier Peak.”

Mount Vernon Christian Holiday Tournament (Boys)

Lummi Nation moved into the championship game by rallying to knock off Adna, 57-44, on Friday. The Blackhawks (7-1) trailed after one quarter, 18-15, but then shut down the Pirates, giving up just 26 points over the last three quarters.

“It was a great defensive effort tonight after the first quarter,” said Lummi Nation coach Jerome Toby. “Adna came out shooting well, and we did a great job cleaning up the defense and beating a good ball club.”

Sophomore guard Jerome Toby Jr. led the balanced Blackhawks attack with 19 points, including a trio of 3s; senior Mathias Johnson and junior Tony Abrams added 10 points each; freshman Dyson Edwards had 8 points, and senior Desmond Bailey had 6 points.

In the late semifinal, Blaine fell to Wahkiakum, 65-55. The Borderites (3-7) were up 12 in the third quarter but couldn’t stop the Mules and Zakkary Carlson, who scored 41 points and hit eight 3-pointers.

Senior Noah Tavis led Blaine with 16 points, senior Justin Minjarez and junior Josiah Weeda had 14 each, and senior Conner Dalry added 8 points.

The Borderites will play Adna at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

Mount Vernon Christian Holiday Tournament (Girls)

Lummi Nation lost to Forks, 57-29, in the consolation bracket on Friday. The Lady Blackhawks (5-4) will take on Cedar Park Christian (Bothell) on Saturday at 9 a.m.

Wilbur-Ellis Sundome Shootout

The Lynden and Nooksack Valley boys once again split their games as they wrapped up their stay in Yakima. The Lions defeated Mark Morris, 68-48, and the Pioneers fell to Quincy, 62-48, on Friday.

In a rematch of last March’s Class 2A state title game that the Lions also won, Lynden (8-3) pulled away in the second half after leading by only five at intermission.

In a rematch of last March’s Class 2A state title game that the Lions also won, Lynden (8-3) pulled away in the second half after leading by only five at intermission.

Senior Anthony Canales had 23 points and 4 assists, junior Brant Heppner had 14 points and another 4 assists, senior Ty Holleman had 5 points and 5 rebounds, and senior Brady Elsner had 5 points, 10 assists, and 5 steals.

On Thursday, the Pioneers (7-3) defeated Toppenish, 59-37. Junior Tristan Kamphouse had 12 points, junior Caden Heutink had 11, senior Joey Brown had 10, and junior Brady Ackerman had 9.

Mountlake Terrace Holiday Tournament

The Lynden Christian boys pulled off the stunner of the day with a 66-64 overtime victory over previously unbeaten Mountlake Terrace, the No.3-ranked Class 3A team in the state.

Sehome, meanwhile, finished with a split in the tournament, losing to Inglemoor of Seattle on Friday, 59-49. Senior Austin McKay led the Mariners (6-4) with 19 points thanks to four 3-pointers, and senior Braddock Duckworth and sophomore Nolan Wright had 10 points each.

The Lyncs (10-0) needed a near-miracle comeback to tie it in regulation on Friday. Down by five with five seconds to go, senior Dawson Bouma hit a 3-pointer off an inbounds play. Junior Oak Howell then stole the Mountlake Terrace inbounds pass and hit a short floater at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

Bouma hit two buckets to start the extra period and the Lyncs made all four free throws to seal the win while the Hawks were missing seven from the line.

Bouma finished with 38 points, including four 3-pointers and eight of the Lyncs’ 10 points in overtime. Senior Jeremiah Wright added 10 points, and junior Gannon Dykstra had 7 points.

In a bit of friendly scheduling, Lynden Christian will join the Trojan Storm Winter Classic and play an extra game against Bellevue Christian on Saturday at 6 p.m. to give both squads a third game this week. The Vikings were undefeated before losing to Squalicum on Thursday and Sultan on Friday.

Holiday Classic

The Sehome girls lost their second game at the Holiday Classic in Portland, Ore., to Wells of Portland,  43-38, on Friday.

The Mariners (5-4) held Wells to just 12 points in the first half, but 24 Sehome turnovers proved to be the difference as the Oregon team rallied in the second half.

Senior Natalie Brewer had 11 points and 4 rebounds; senior Madi Cooper had 10 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals; senior Emmy Hart added 9 points on three 3-pointers and had 5 rebounds and 3 steals; and sophomore Aspen Barge collected a team-high 6 rebounds.

Sehome will wrap up their tournament on Saturday when they take on Sunset of Beaverton.

Jim Carberry of Whatcom Hoops

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.

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