Nooksack Boys Get Physical, Get Big Win Over Meridian

It was no surprise that the Nooksack Valley boys basketball team used its size to outmuscle Meridian. What was surprising was that the Pioneers used their shooting to down the Trojans in a key Northwest Conference contest, 67-55, Tuesday night, Jan. 16.

“They outphysicaled us and they shot the ball well,” said Meridian coach Shane Stacy. “We expected them to be physical. We didn’t expect them to shoot so well.”

The victory gives Nooksack Valley a leg up in the Class 1A battle for district seeding. With Lynden Christian all but assured of the top seed, Nooksack (5-5 in NWC play and 9-6 overall) now owns the second seed, while Meridian (3-6 in conference and 8-7 overall) falls to third.

The win also meant a lot emotionally to the Pioneers, who had lost four of their previous five league contests.

“Now we know we can do it because we did it,” said Nooksack Valley coach Jason Heutink. “Tonight our intensity and focus was the difference. We were very, very focused.”

Especially on defense. With almost the entire Nooksack roster a part of the school’s playoff football team, the Pioneers were unrelenting in using their bulk and quickness to make the Trojans work hard on every position.

Getting the most attention were Meridian’s all-league guards Jaeger Fyfe and Talon Jenkins, who regularly put up 20-point games.

Thanks to Nooksack Valley defenders Cory Olney, Colton Lentz, Cole Coppinger, Joey Brown, and Caden Heutink, Fyfe struggled to reach 20 points and Jenkins was held to just 4 points in part because he sat much of the game in foul trouble.

The Pioneers, meanwhile, spread their scoring around. It showed in the third quarter, which turned out to be the turning point.

After a back-and-forth first half that saw Nooksack Valley clinging to a four-point lead, the Pioneers came out firing. They scored the first 11 points to go up by 15 and when Tristan Kamphouse sank his second 3-pointer of the period with 2:40 left, the lead was 49-31.

Meridian would cut the lead to a dozen a couple of times, but never got closer thanks to Nooksack Valley senior Wayne Silves, who had a 3-pointer, a three-point play off an alley-oop, and all nine of his points in the fourth quarter.

“I know when they are rolling on defense, they get rolling on offense,” coach Heutink said of his Pioneers.

Nooksack Valley’s hot shooting showed from both lines. The Pioneers made eight shots from behind the 3-point line and were 15 of 17 from the free throw line.

Kamphouse had the hottest hand with four 3-pointers and 18 points, 10 of which came in the crucial third period when Nooksack Valley outscored Meridian, 21-12.

Heutink added a pair of 3s and made 5 of 6 free throws for 11 points, junior Brady Ackerman muscled inside for 10 points, and Coppinger and Silves had 9 points each.

On the other end of the court, Meridian would not shoot its best. The Trojans only had four 3s and missed 12 free throws. Besides Fyfe’s 20 points, senior Christian Clawson had 12 points, and senior Taran Burks had 8 points, but no other Trojan had more than four.

Despite the possible repercussions for future seeding, both coaches were quick to point out that there were still two and half weeks in the regular season — not to mention the possibility their teams could face off at least one more time in the playoffs.

“In this conference, you don’t have time to mope or to celebrate,” said Stacy. “You have to get back to work. We’ll probably see them again and we’ll try to turn the tables.”

Nooksack Valley’s next game is at Mount Baker on Thursday. Meridian has to wait until Saturday before hosting Sedro-Woolley.

Nooksack Valley 67, Meridian 55

Meridian                    13       13       12       17—55

Nooksack Valley       16       14       21       16—67

Meridian: Jenkins 4, Fuller 4, Fyfe 20, Amundson 3, Short, James, Burks 8, Clawson 12, Hedahl 4.

Nooksack Valley: Coppinger 9, Olney 4, Lentz 4, Heutink 11, Wichers, Brown 2, Vigre, Kamphouse 18, Silves 9, Lankhaar, D. Ackerman, Hickey, B. Ackerman 10.

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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