Lummi Nation Girls, Boys Run Away With Sweet Sweep

The doubleheader was supposed to be a showdown between the top Northwest 1B League teams but it turned out to be a showcase just for the Lummi Nation girls and boys basketball teams on Thursday night, Dec. 21.

In the first game, the Lady Blackhawks used their defense and depth to take a 25-point lead midway through the second quarter on the way to a 70-27 domination of Grace Academy. Lummi Nation (5-2 overall and 4-0 in NW1B) is now tied with Tulalip Heritage atop the league standings, while the Eagles fell to 3-2 overall and in league. 

In the second game, the Lummi boys used the same formula — defense and depth — to overpower previously undefeated Grace Academy, 69-19. With the win, the Blackhawks (5-1 overall and 5-0 in NW1B) take over undisputed first place over the Eagles (4-1 overall, 4-1 in league).

Whatcom Hoops December-22-2023
The Lady Blackhawks were excited when Serena Jo Pantalia made her return.

Girls: Captain’s Return Sparks Lummi Nation To 70-27 Win

The outcome might have been determined even before the opening tip when senior Serena Jo Pantalia was introduced as a starter in her first game back from knee surgery. The Lummi Nation captain’s return to the cheers of her teammates sparked the Lady Blackhawks to a 23-4 lead in the first quarter.

“It was exciting to have Serena back,” said Lummi Nation coach Krista Mahle. “To have her leadership on the court just brings up their energy.”

Pantalia had been practicing since the start of the season but only got cleared by the doctor to play on Thursday. She scored the game’s first two points and the Blackhawks were off and running — and pressing, and generally making things miserable for the visiting Eagles.

“I was so eager to play,” said Pantalia, who would have been the night’s star even if she hadn’t scored again although she ended up with 11 points. “It felt like the end of the world to have to sit. I loved that my first game was at home. I missed playing with them.”

The feeling was mutual. “We missed her,” said fellow senior Keyonee Morris, who had 14 points and three of the Blackhawks’ eight 3-pointers. She and Pantalia were eighth-graders on the last Lummi team to reach state.

Blackhawks freshman guard Jemma James, who was just voted the WaFd Bank Washington high school athlete of the week for Dec. 4-9, had 25 points and a pair of 3-pointers. But it was a team effort on offense with seven players scoring four or more points and on defense as Lummi Nation held the Eagles to single digits in each quarter.

“They all played well together,” Mahle said. “They’re more than just Jemma. Everybody can play.”

The Blackhawks will get a chance to prove it again next week in the Mount Vernon Christian Holiday Tournament. Lummi Nation will open on Thursday against the host Hurricanes, a perennial Class 2B power, on Thursday, Dec. 28, at 9 a.m. They’ll continue play on Friday and Saturday.

Lummi Nation 70, Grace Academy 27

Grace Academy            4         6         8         9—27

Lummi Nation            23       10       16       21—70

Grace Academy: Ashby 4, Velazquez, Lomakin, Huckaby 4, Westvang 2, Mellema 2, Mugo-Wainaina 15.

Lummi Nation: Mak. Morris 4, J. James 25, Dennis, Jones 5, George 5, Pantalia 11, K. Morris 14, Landsem 6, C. James.

Whatcom Hoops December-22-2023
The Lummi Nation bench had lots to cheer about Thursday.

Boys: Lummi Nation Makes Statement With 69-19 Victory

Losing to Grace Academy last year and having to settle for a league co-championship stung the Blackhawks, who are used to dominating the Northwest 1B League. So the returnees were fired up to face the Eagles on Thursday.

“We wanted to prove something this year,” said sophomore Jerome Toby Jr. “We wanted to make a statement. So we stepped it up defensively.”

The Blackhawks certainly made a statement with their defense. Their quick-handed fullcourt pressure made every possession a nightmare for the Eagles, who were held to five or fewer points in three of four quarters. And Grace Academy is no slouch having scored at least 49 points in all four of its games this season.

“The last time we played them they beat us and the guys that returned remember,” said Lummi Nation coach Jerome Toby Sr. “We knew we had to bring our game. We had a slow start but then started rolling.”

Yes, the Blackhawks had a slow start offensively missing an uncharacteristic number of layups and easy shots in the first half. But their defense only gave up four field goals as Lummi Nation took a 27-9 lead into halftime. 

And when their shots started dropping and their defense didn’t let up, well, mercifully the running clock started midway through the fourth period.

Toby had 16 of his game-high 19 points in the third quarter, but the Blackhawks showed their depth with 10 different scorers.

Junior Tony Abrams had 10 points, freshman Dyson Edwards had 9 points, senior Desmond Bailey had 8 points, and senior Raymond Perkins had 7. In fact, the Lummi Nation bench outscored the entire Grace Academy squad.

It is the team’s depth and unselfish play that has impressed coach Toby.

“This year, we have to do it collectively,” the coach said noting that each of the past five seasons Lummi Nation has been blessed with at least one all-state player. “We’re not leaning on one guy. We’re doing it together. This group is going to work their tails off. They really want to continue the tradition and success of the Blackhawks.”

Lummi Nation’s is in action again next Thursday, Dec. 28, at 5:30 p.m. when the Blackhawks take on Mossyrock in the three-day Mount Vernon Christian Holiday Tournament. 

Lummi Nation 69, Grace Academy 19

Grace Academy        4         5         9         1—19

Lummi Nation        12       15       22       20—69

Grace Academy: Brook, Anderson 2, Abrenilla, Impala, Maas 3, Birkhofer 6, Stewart, George, Struiksma, Hess 8.

Lummi Nation: Toby 19, Lee 4, Johnson 1, Edwards 9, Perkins 7, Day 5, Abrams 10, Revey 4, Bailey 8, Tangeant, LaFontaine 2.

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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