After a year’s hiatus because of the pandemic, Whatcom Hoops fans can finally celebrate because IT’S PLAYOFF TIME!
And while all 22 of our county’s boys and girls basketball teams automatically qualify for their respective playoff tournaments — again, you can thank COVID for messing up everyone’s schedules — it is Whatcom County’s smallest school that will tip off postseason play for our local squads.
The Lummi Nation boys and girls will host Class 1B District 1 games starting on Saturday, Feb. 5, when the second-seeded Lady Blackhawks play Darrington, a 49-16 winner in Thursday’s opening-round game against Lopez Island.
The Blackhawks boys are their league’s top seed and advance directly to the semifinals on Tuesday, Feb. 8, when they entertain the winner of two earlier games.
Whatcom County’s five Class 1A schools (Blaine, Lynden Christian, Meridian, Mount Baker, and Nooksack Valley), four Class 2A schools (Bellingham, Lynden, Sehome, and Squalicum), and one Class 3A school (Ferndale) will begin their boys and girls district tournaments next week.
Keep watching WhatcomHoops.com for previews of the Class 1A, 2A and 3A district tournaments, which will be posted after seeding is announced on Sunday, Feb. 6.
The Class 1B district tournaments will bring together all the members of the Northwest 1B League, including Lummi Nation, and the 1B members of the Northwest 1B-2B League.
On the girls side, that means the addition of perennial power Mount Vernon Christian, which has gone to five of the last six state tournaments and earned four top-six trophies. The Hurricanes are 14-3 this season and ranked in the top 10 again.
Surprisingly, despite claiming the Northwest 1B title with a 7-1 league mark (8-3 overall), the Lummi Nation girls were the league’s second seed behind Grace Academy, which finished 5-1 in league and 7-1 overall. The two teams split their season series.
The good news is that Lummi Nation only needs to win one of two games to advance to the District 1/2/3 tournament and the Blackhawks will be heavily favored on Saturday. The top five teams from District 1 advance to the 12-team tri-district tournament and from there, five advance to the state regionals.
The challenge for the Lummi Nation boys is slightly different and easier. Because the Blackhawks (9-0 in league, 11-1 overall) won the league title outright, they advance straight to the district semifinals and with it earn an automatic berth in the tri-district tournament.
Not that the Blackhawks need a gift. Ranked in the top 10, they figure to be heavy favorites to win the district tournament and will be a favorite in tri-districts, where the top six finishers advance to the state regionals.
Both the boys and girls district championship games and consolation finals will be Thursday, Feb. 10, at Lummi Nation and will determine the top four seeding to tri-districts.
The Lummi Nation boys and girls are both looking to return to the 1B state tournaments in Spokane. The Lady Blackhawks qualified for the first time in 10 years in 2020 but lost in the first round. The boys reached the semifinals in 2020 and finished fifth.
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.