They took opposite paths, but the Lummi Nation girls and boys basketball teams ended up in the same place — the win column — after sweeping visiting Lopez in a Northwest 1B League doubleheader Thursday afternoon, Dec. 15.
The Lady Blackhawks flew out to a 33-0 halftime lead on the way to a 64-7 rout. The boys made it more interesting by holding the Lobos to three second-half points and turning a seven-point halftime margin into a 67-32 blowout victory.
The win kept the Lummi Nation girls undefeated as they raised their record to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in league. The Lummi boys improved to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in league.
How dominant were the Blackhawks? The score was 8-0 before the Lobos got the ball over halfcourt against the Lummi press. They only managed to hit the rim twice in the first quarter and by then the Blackhawks led 20-0 before calling off the press and putting in the subs. And this was against a Lopez team that came into the game with a 3-0 record.
Aliesha Solomon, one of only two seniors on the Lummi Nation varsity, tried to be diplomatic: “I feel bad for them,” she said.
The Blackhawks might have felt bad for their outclassed opponent, but they played great — again. Against Class 1B competition this season, their victory margins are 26, 56, 76, and now 57. That’s with running clocks and calling off their devastating press by halftime.
Solomon said she was surprised by the team’s dominance so far, but Lummi Nation coach Krista Mahle wasn’t.
“Not really,” said Mahle. “With the four girls we had coming back and Jemma …”
That would be Jemma James, the starting point guard as an eighth-grader. Yes, you read that correctly. An eighth-grader. She led the quick-handed Lummi defense, ran the offense, dished off assists, and had 18 points.
With James and junior Keyonee Morris running the break, the Blackhawks didn’t even need all-Whatcom Hoops stars Aliesha and Raven Solomon and another returning starter, junior Serena Pantelia, to shoot much.
Morris led the Blackhawks with 21 points and had the team’s only 3-pointer, and Aliesha Solomon added 12 points.
“We’re proud of our younger players,” said Raven Solomon, who like cousin Aliesha also made the Lummi Nation varsity as eighth-graders. But Raven wasn’t as excited about the blowout victories. “We want the competition,” she said.
Mahle said she didn’t mind having her starters sit much of the second half because it allowed her bench to get a lot of playing minutes. She recognizes that the team is still a work in progress with six of the 10 getting their first real varsity playing time the past two weeks.
“We want to get the other girls minutes,” said Mahle. As for looking down the road at possible playoff competition at the tri-district and state levels, she would have none of that. “I’m a one-game-at-a-time coach,” she said.
The Blackhawks are in action again on Saturday when they host Muckleshoot Tribal School at 1 p.m. in another girl-boy doubleheader.
Lummi Nation 64, Lopez 7
Lopez 0 0 3 4— 7
Lummi Nation 20 13 16 15—64
Lopez: Luckhurst, Westervelt 2, R. McClean, I. McClean, Arnott 1, Sauceman 2, Burt 2.
Lummi Nation: M. Morris, A. Solomon 12, R. Solomon 6, James 18, Kapuni-Lopez 2, Jones, Pantelia 3, K. Morris 21, Lansem 2, Williams.
When the Lummi Nation boys followed the same pattern as the girls by jumping out to a 16-0 lead, it looked like another rout was imminent. Then came the second quarter when … well, let’s let the Blackhawks describe it.
“We were a little sloppy,” said senior Richard Wilson. “We were terrible,” said senior Payton Scott.
In that terrible second quarter, the sloppy Blackhawks gave up 23 points, and their big lead dwindled to as little as four points. At halftime, coach Jerome Toby had a little talk with his team.
“Jerome gave us a good speech,” said Wilson. “He said, ‘That’s not how we want to play.’ And we got our chemistry back.”
Wilson was the main chemist. He started an explosive third quarter with two quick inside buckets and then sank a 3-pointer and before the Lobos could say, “Time out,” the lead was back up to 14.
Then the Blackhawks’ proud defense took over, holding Lopez to three points in the third quarter and shutting out the Lobos in the fourth. In the end, it still turned out to be a rout.
“We found our groove,” said Scott.
Wilson would finish with 24 points Thursday after scoring 29 and 30 points his previous two games. Scott, a transfer from Ferndale, had 20 points, all in the first half. Freshman Jerome Toby Jr. had 9 points, and another freshman, Tracy Powell, had 7 points.
Making the outcome even more impressive was the fact that Lummi Nation had three starters out with illness or injuries and only had eight players suited up Thursday. Considering that this year’s squad doesn’t have the all-state players Lummi has had the past five years, coach Toby was glad to see his new players get some action.
“They’ve heard people say we don’t have the big-name players, and they’re taking on that challenge,” said Toby.
“We tell them as long as you play aggressive and unselfish good things will happen. They’ve all bought in and they want to carry on the tradition. This group is taking advantage of their opportunity. They’ll be battle-tested.”
The Blackhawks take on Muckleshoot Tribal School at home on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. as part of the girl-boy doubleheader. They’ll get a big test on Monday when they travel to Nooksack Valley to take on the Class 1A Pioneers.
Lummi Nation 67, Lopez 32
Lopez 6 23 3 0—32
Lummi Nation 20 16 13 18—67
Lopez: Stephenson, Cary 20, Kazakov, Jones, Patrick 8, Mossener, McLean, McDonald, Grongley 2, Velasquez 2, Diaz Viveros.
Lummi Nation: Toby 9, Perkins, Day, Powell 7, Wilson 24, Scott 20, Solomon 3, Brockie 4.
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.