“Wear them down” is a phrase you hear about a football team, so it was appropriate that the Nooksack Valley boys basketball team wore down visiting Sedro-Woolley to win the Pioneers’ first game of the season, 69-56, on Wednesday night, Dec. 7.
With all but two of the varsity basketball team on Nooksack Valley’s state football squad, the Pioneers are familiar with playing physical for four quarters. So even though they’ve only had seven practices together because of the long football season and two players were sick, the Pioneers turned it on in the fourth quarter.
With the score tied going into the final period, Nooksack Valley put together a 26-point quarter to pull away from the Cubs.
“This group will keep working and keep competing,” said Nooksack Valley coach Rich Skillman. “They saw what they can do in the fourth quarter.”
What they did was hit their shots and hit the boards. Senior Ayden Roper gave Nooksack the lead by hitting three straight shots. The Pioners’ only other senior, Bennett DeLange, hit a pair of jumpers and was 4-for-4 from the line. And sophomore Colton Lentz used his gridiron aggressiveness to muscle inside for 8 points.
“Colton turned into a beast,” said Skillman. “The whole team stepped up.”
It didn’t start that way as the Pioneers showed their rust especially on offense where they only managed 10 points early in the second period.
“We knew it would be hard to get in a groove at first,” said DeLange. “But we didn’t know we’d start that slow. But this guy kept us in the game.”
“This guy” was junior Wayne Silves, who gave Nooksack Valley an offensive spark in the second quarter when the Pioneers found themselves down by nine. He hit a pair of 3-pointers and a couple of jumpers for 10 of his game-high 15 points to bring Nooksack Valley within two at halftime.
“We had tons of close games in football,” said Silves. “We embraced it. We were definitely a family and we carry it over (to basketball).”
Lentz joined Silves with 15 points, DeLange finished with 12 points, and Roper had 9. Connor Cox had 22 points to lead the Cubs, who fell to 1-2 for the season after going 10 of 23 from the line.
“It’s easy to trust this group,” said Skillman, who only graduated one player from last year’s squad. “They’ll be a fun group to watch as the season goes on.”
Next up for the Pioneers is a trip to Bellingham on Saturday, Dec. 10.
NOTES: Nooksack Valley fans will want to attend the Lakewood game on Saturday night, Dec. 17, when the school will honor its 2003 boys basketball team, which won the Class 2A state championship.
Nooksack Valley 69, Sedro-Woolley 56
Sedro-Woolley 17 12 14 13—56
Nooksack Valley 10 17 16 26—69
Sedro-Woolley: Avery 2, Lee, Scheib 7, Cox 22, Barretto 2, Reynolds 4, Peterson , Carneal 1, DeJong 10, Roth, Aamot 8.
Nooksack Valley: Heutink 6, DeLange 12, Vigre 2, Lentz 15, Roper 9, Silves 15, Hickey 3, Ackerman 7.
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.