Holiday Roundup (Saturday): 4 Whatcom Teams Bring Home Titles

It was championship week for four Whatcom teams after winning their holiday tournaments on Saturday, Dec. 30.

The Squalicum girls and the Meridian boys won their respective tournaments in the Trojan Storm Winter Classic, the Lynden girls won  the Lynden Christmas Classic championship, and the Lummi Nation boys won the Mount Vernon Christian Christmas Classic title.

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

Trojan Storm Winter Classic (Girls)

Squalicum showed its composure under pressure as the Storm weathered every Stanwood rally to beat the Spartans, 43-38, and bring home some hardware for their trophy case.

“I don’t know if we’ve ever won a trophy,” said Squalicum coach Jenalyn Brown, whose team evened its record at 5-5. “I’m really proud of them, and I’m elated for the girls.”

It wasn’t easy. After jumping to an 8-0 lead, the Storm watched Stanwood storm back to take back the lead. Squalicum took an 11-point lead at halftime on senior Mari Binning’s 3-pointer at the buzzer, but again, the Spartans cut it to five. And in the fourth quarter, the Storm went up by 10 only to see Stanwood rally to within four with 34 seconds left.

But the Storm wouldn’t fold, forcing Stanwood into two rushed shots and running out the clock. All that was left was to smile for the fans and photographers.

“It feels really good,” said Caitlyn Richardson, one of three Squalicum seniors. “This was our last chance (as seniors) to bring home the trophy. I’m excited to play the rest of the season.”

It’s taken a while for the Storm to jell in part because the 12-girl roster includes five freshmen and three sophomores. But wins in the tourney over previously unbeaten Bellevue Christian, NWC rival Blaine, and Class 3A Stanwood has given them confidence heading into the second half of their season.

Freshman Addison Kettman came off the bench to lead the Storm with 10 points, Binning had 9 points, senior Makayla Heaton and junior Loretta Murphy-Kangas had 6 points each, and Richardson and freshman Tiana Thompson had 5 points each.

“We’re establishing some team chemistry,” said Brown, who also praised the play of freshmen Carli Kiesau, and Lexi Robbins. “We have an opportunity to end (the season) pretty well. This will build a lot of confidence.”

In Saturday’s earlier games, Blaine dominated Friday Harbor, 50-26, and Meridian fell to Bellevue Christian, 54-33.

Blaine (5-5) had little trouble with Friday Harbor in a rematch of their season opener holding the Wolverines to seven points or less in each quarter.

Senior Jordyn Vezzeti had 19 points and three 3-pointers to lead Blaine. Senior Deja Dube had 9 points, senior Alia Ball had 8 points, freshman Teia Dube had 7 points, and freshman Marcella Bring had 6 points on a pair of 3s.

Meridian (3-8) only managed 10 points in the first half and couldn’t make up any ground against the Vikings.

Freshman Eden Bernardy led the Trojans with 12 points and a pair of 3s, and senior Malia McCauley and sophomore Kinsley Neal had 9 points each and combined for five 3-pointers, 

Trojan Storm Winter Classic (Boys)

Whatcom County was guaranteed a champion on the boys side with Northwest Conference rivals Meridian and Squalicum battling in the tournament final. Saturday night it was the Trojans who came out on top, 49-35.

“On day 3 of a Christmas tournament, there isn’t going to be a lot of offense,” said Meridian coach Shane Stacy. “But we rebounded and defended well and that was the difference. We found some guys we can rely on to contribute physically, emotionally, and mentally.”

The Trojans (7-4) certainly did on defense holding the cold-shooting Storm to 13 first-half points. The Trojans weren’t much warmer but they used an 18-point third quarter to take a double-digit lead and never let Squalicum (4-7) cut it to under 10.

“Our shots weren’t falling today,” said Squalicum coach Tyler Hannigan, whose squad had impressive wins over Bellevue Christian and Centralia to get to the final. “But we’re still a young team (with no seniors) and they’re growing up before our eyes. Now we want to end strong and continue to grow.”

Junior Jaeger Fyfe led Meridian on offense with 18 points, three 3-pointers, and nine points in the crucial third period. Junior James Hedahl finished with 11 points, junior Talon Jenkins added 10 points, and senior Christian Clawson had 6 points.

“We’ve had a lot of guys out,” said Fyfe of the team’s early season struggles. “These were the first three games that we’ve had our full team back. It’s nice to start to play together and celebrate each other. We feel confident (going into the rest of the season).”

Squalicum’s biggest offensive threat, junior Marcus Nixon, was hampered by foul trouble most of the game yet still led the Storm with 14 points. Juniors Ezra Nichols and Jaxon Hofer finished with 5 points each.

In an “extra” game, Lynden Christian (11-0) filled in on Saturday and defeated Bellevue Christian, 79-40. All 10 Lyncs scored with senior Dawson Bouma leading the balanced attack with 15 points. Senior Kayden Stuit had 14 points, senior Jeremiah Wright had 13, junior Gannon Dykstra had 9, and freshman Kaden Veldman had 8. 

Lynden Christmas Classic

The Lynden girls dominated Snohomish from the start and took the tournament championship with a convincing 51-29 victory on Saturday.

The Lions (11-1) led 12-2 to begin the game and were up by 20 in the third quarter to overpower the Class 3A Panthers. 

“It was a great overall experience getting to play three great opponents with three different styles of play,” said Lynden coach Rob Adams, whose team beat Class 2A powers White River and Prosser to get into the final. “It was very much like a state tournament but at Christmas time.”

Junior Kiki York led the Lions with 11 points and sophomore Payton Mills finishing with 10. Senior Kalanie Newcomb, sophomore Rian Stephan, and freshman Finley Parcher had 7 points each with Newcomb sinking a pair of 3-pointers. Senior Mya VanderYacht added 6 points on two 3s.

“Kiki had one of her best overall floor games of the season,” said Adams. “And Payton played a solid floor game, putting forth a post-season type of effort on the defensive end of the floor.”

In the consolation final, Lynden Christian shocked Prosser in the consolation final, 48-42. The Mustangs came into the tournament unbeaten and ranked No.1 among Class 2A teams and left with two losses thanks to the Lyncs on Saturday and Lynden on Friday.

The Lyncs (7-4) were tied going into the final period but held Prosser, which was averaging 74 points a game, to only two field goals to earn the victory.

Sophomore Ella Fritts paced the Lyncs with 16 points, including eight in the decisive fourth quarter. Junior Allison Shumate had 8 points, junior Danya Dykstra had 7 points, and senior Tabby DeJong and sophomore Estela Hernandez had 6 points each.

Mills was named the tournament MVP and Parcher joined her on the first team all-tournament team. Also on the first team were Avery Sussex of Riverside, Malu Touras of Inglemoor, and Tyler Gildersleeve-Stiles of Snohomish.

On the second team were Lauren Wolin of Olympia, Herbie Wright and Deidra Phillips of Prosser, Sienna Capelli of Snohomish, and Maggie Schmitz of White River.

Mount Vernon Christian Holiday Tournament (Boys)

Lummi Nation won the MVC tournament for the first time by defeating Wahkiakum in the championship game, 65-55.

Once again it was a team effort by the Blackhawks (8-1), who were down by three at the half but held Wahkiakum to eight points in the third quarter and then held off the Mules with a 20-point fourth quarter.

Sophomore Jerome Toby had 18 points, two 3-pointers, and nailed down the win by hitting eight free throws in the fourth quarter. Freshman Dyson Edwards had 13 points, senior Desmond Bailey had 12 points, senior Mathias Johnson had 9 points, and junior Tony Abrams added 6 points.

“It was a great game tonight by both ball clubs,” said Lummi Nation coach Jerome Toby Sr. “There was a lot of energy in the gym.”

In an earlier game Saturday, Blaine was tied at halftime but couldn’t hold off Adna and lost, 58-42.

The Borderites (3-7) were led by junior Josiah Weeda, who had 22 points and four 3-pointers. Senior Conner Dalry added 8 points, but no other Borderite had more than four. 

Mount Vernon Christian Holiday Tournament (Girls)

Lummi Nation lost to Cedar Park Christian (Bothell) on Saturday, 52-21. The loss dropped the Lady Blackhawks’ record to 5-5.

Holiday Classic

The Sehome girls lost their third game in the highly competitive Holiday Classic in Portland, Ore., on Saturday when the Mariners fell to Sunset of Beaverton, 56-38.

Sehome (5-5) led much of the first half and was tied at halftime, but a cold-shooting second half proved to be the difference.

Senior Emmy Hart led the Mariners with 14 points, four 3-pointers, and 5 assists; senior Madi Cooper had 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists; and senior Hazel Gaston had a team-high 6 rebounds and 3 assists.

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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