Holiday Roundup (Thursday): It’s Fun And Wins For Most Whatcom Teams

It was a good day for Whatcom boys and girls basketball teams in the eight holiday tournaments on Thursday, Dec. 28, even if all of them didn’t win.

“They are so fun,” said Meridian junior Brooklyn Fuller even though her squad fell in the opening round of the Trojan Storm Tournament. “It’s a great time to improve, to take a step to being a better team.”

If nothing else, the Meridian boys and girls proved to be gracious hosts having drawn the biggest schools and favored teams in the two eight-team tournaments. The Meridian boys fell to Nathan Hale of Seattle’s Class 3A Metro League, 78-47, and the Meridian girls lost to Stanwood of the 3A Western Conference, 33-23.

“You want to win,” said Meridian girls coach Bree Joy of the holiday tournaments. “But you want to get better as a team. We like the underdog role. Today we took a good step.”

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

Trojan Storm Winter Classic (Girls)

Squalicum and Blaine won their opening-round games Thursday to move into Friday’s semifinal at noon in Meridian’s north gym. 

The Storm handed Bellevue Christian its first loss of the season, 48-43. Squalicum (3-5) saw its 11-point fourth-quarter lead dwindle to three with two minutes left, but senior Makayla Heaton scored on a steal and breakaway, senior Mari Binning hit a pair of free throws, and freshman Carli Kiesau put in a rebound with 28 seconds left to seal the victory.

“Christmas tournaments are fun,” said Squalicum coach Jenalyn Brown. “It’s an opportunity to turn the corner on your season. They (the Storm) were ready to put those close losses (earlier in the season) behind them.”

Backcourt mates Binning and Heaton finished with 14 and 11 points, respectively, with Heaton hitting two 3s. Junior forward Loretta Murphy-Kangas added 10 points and was 4 of 4 from the line.

“It’s fun playing new teams,” said Heaton of holiday tournaments. “There’s less stress (than conference games). Today we knew we could do it; we just needed to play with composure.”

In the early game, the Borderites rallied from a three-point, fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Overlake, 47-42.

Senior guard Deja Dube led Blaine (4-4) with 18 points and a pair of 3-pointers, and senior forward Alia Ball had 11 points.

In the late game, the Trojans (2-7) had enough defense to hold Stanwood to its second-lowest point total of the season, but they couldn’t put together enough offense against the taller Spartans.

“Our defense set the tone,” said Joy, whose squad stayed close all game long despite a three-point third quarter. Said Fuller, who led the team with 7 points, “Our defense played a great game. It showed we can play with bigger and taller teams.”

Eden Bernardy, one of three freshman on the varsity, came off the bench to score 5 points. 

Meridian will take on Overlake, at 2 p.m. in the south gym. In the other semifinal at 4 p.m., Stanwood will face Friday Harbor, which defeated Sultan in the other opening-round game, 46-40. Sultan and Bellevue Christian will play a consolation game at noon.

Trojan Storm Winter Classic (Boys)

Squalicum can lay claim to the most exciting game of the day with its 66-59 overtime victory over Bellevue Christian in Thursday’s early game.

After a disastrous two-point third quarter, the Storm (3-5) trailed by 12 going into the fourth quarter. But the offense exploded for 22 points to tie the game and send it to an extra period. There the Storm outscored the Vikings, 9-2, for the win.

Junior guard Marcus Nixon was the hero with 24 points, including seven points in overtime as he hit five free throws to nail down the victory. Junior guard Ezra Nichols had 10 points, and sophomore forward Laki Fagaautau and junior guard Kai Smith had 8 points each with Smith sinking a pair of 3s.

In the late game, Nathan Hale showed Meridian what it was like to take on a team that played even with the likes of state powers Garfield and Eastside Catholic this season. The Raiders hit seven 3-pointers in the first half to go up by 15 and then used their pressing defense to hold the Trojans to 18 points in the second half.

“We’ve got to be able to run an offense under chaotic conditions,” said Meridian coach Shane Stacy. “We took away their 3-point shot (in the second half), but they found other ways to win.”

Juniors Talon Jenkins and Jaeger Fyfe had 12 points each for Meridian (4-4), and junior James Hedahl and freshman Nate Payne added 6 points each.

In Friday’s semifinals, Squalicum will take on Centralia  at 2 p.m. and Meridian — which advanced because Nathan Hale was only scheduled for one tournament game — will face Steilacoom at 6 p.m.

Lynden Christmas Classic

The Lynden and Lynden Christian girls advanced to the semifinals with convincing victories Thursday. The Lions defeated White River, 58-47, and the Lyncs bested Inglemoor of Seattle, 42-30.

Lynden (9-1) came out strong with a 20-point first quarter and led by 15 heading into the final quarter. Freshman Finley Parcher led the way with 18 points and two 3s, sophomore Payton Mills tossed in 15 points, and senior Haylee Koetje added 7 points.

Lynden Christian (6-3) held the Vikings to 12 first-half points and held on to the double-digit lead until the end. Sophomore guard Ella Fritts had 13 points, junior Allison Shumate had 10 points, and senior Tabby DeJong added 8 points.

After beating the seventh-ranked Hornets (in the latest Class 2A state RPI ratings), the No.3 Lions will get a shot at top-ranked Prosser in the first semifinal Friday at 5:30 p.m. The Lyncs will face Snohomish in the other semifinal at 7:15 p.m. 

Top of the Peak Holiday Tournament

Thursday’s biggest win has to go to the Nooksack Valley girls, who shocked Mead of Spokane, 47-30. While the Pioneers (10-0) came into the game as the No.1 1A team, the Panthers were also unbeaten and ranked No.1 among the 3A teams.

Nooksack Valley did it with defense, holding Mead to 13 first-quarter points and by far its lowest point total of the season. On the offensive end, it was the Pioneers’ four senior captains who did most of the damage.

Devin Coppinger led the way with 14 points, Lainey Kimball had 10 points, Kaylee Anderson hit three big 3-pointers for 9 points, and Tana Hoekema had 8 points.

“It was a huge win for us,” said Nooksack Valley coach Shane Wichers. “It was a really good defensive effort.”

In the finals Friday, the Pioneers will face Lake City of Coeur d’Alene, the No.2-ranked 5A school in Idaho.

Mount Vernon Christian Holiday Tournament (Boys)

Blaine and Lummi Nation won their opening-round games Thursday although in different ways. The Borderites  held off Mount Vernon Christian, 51-47, while the Blackhawks took down Mossyrock, 73-53.

In Friday’s semifinals, Blaine takes on Wahkiakum at 9 p.m. and Lummi Nation plays Adna at 5:30 p.m.

The Borderites held the lead through most of the game but never could pull away from the Hurricanes. Senior forward Conner Daley led Blaine (3-6) with 21 points, senior guard Justin Minjarez had 11 points, junior guard Josiah Weeda had 8 points, and senior forward Noah Tavis added 6.

Lummi Nation (6-1) used a 23-point first quarter to take command and never let Vikings get close in the second half.

“It was a good win against a very tough and physical team,” said Lummi Nation coach Jerome Toby Sr. “I was proud of the boys’ effort.”

Sophomore guard Jerome Toby Jr. led the balanced Blackhawks attack with 22 points and three 3-pointers. Freshman guard Dyson Edwards had 12 points, senior guard Mathias Johnson had 10 points, junior forward Tony Abrams had 9 points and two 3s, and senior forward Desmond Bailey had 9 points.

Mount Vernon Christian Holiday Tournament (Girls)

In the opening round Thursday morning, Lummi Nation lost to host Mount Vernon Christian, 59-25. The loss dropped the Lady Blackhawks (5-3) into the consolation bracket where they will play Forks at 9 a.m.

Wilbur-Ellis Sundome Shootout

Whatcom boys teams split against their Yakima Valley counterparts in the first round Thursday in the Sundome. Nooksack Valley topped Toppenish, 59-37, and Lynden lost to Zillah, 70-65. 

Lynden (7-3) let an eight-point halftime lead slip away against the undefeated Leopards, who are the top-ranked 1A team. Senior Anthony Canales had 19 points and two 3-pointers; junior Brant Heppner had 16 points, two 3s, and 10 rebounds; junior Jack Stapleton had 12 points; and senior Brady Elsner had 7 rebounds and 7 assists.

Nooksack Valley (7-2) was led by junior Tristan Kamphouse with 12 points, junior Caden Heutink had 11, senior Joey Brown had 10, and junior Brady Ackerman had 9.

In Friday’s noon games, Lynden will face Mark Morris in a rematch of last March’s Class 2A state final and Nooksack Valley will take on Quincy.

Mountlake Terrace Holiday Tournament

Lynden Christian and Sehome won their opening-round games at the Mountlake Terrace Holiday Tournament. The Lyncs defeated North Creek of Bothell, 61-52, and the Mariners edged Prairie in overtime, 74-73.

Sehome (6-3) outscored Prairie, 15-14, in the extra period to secure the win. Sophomore guard Nolan Wright had five of his team-high 26 points in OT and senior post Braddock Duckworth stood tall in the extra period scoring eight of his 14 points in overtime.

Senior forward Austin McKay had 15 points on three 3-pointers, and freshman Quincy Tanovan and senior forward Sawyer Fleming each had two 3s and 6 points.

On Friday, the Mariners take on Inglemoor at 3 p.m. and the Lyncs (9-0) will play host Mountlake Terrace at 7:30 p.m.

Holiday Classic

The Sehome girls lost their opener in the prestigious Holiday Classic in Portland, Ore., losing to Mountainside of Beaverton, Ore., 54-40, on Thursday.

Senior Madi Cooper led the Mariners with 16 points, hitting 9 of 10 free throws, and dishing out 4 assists. Senior Natalie Brewer had 10 points and a team-high 8 rebounds, and seniors Emmy Hart and Kylie Watson each had 6 points on a pair of 3-pointers. Hart also had 4 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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