The Nooksack Valley boys and girls basketball teams came into their games with La Conner unbeaten, but only the boys stayed that way after the home doubleheader on Saturday, Dec. 14.
In the boys game, the Pioneers started slowly but once they got rolling there was no stopping them as they dominated the Braves, 81-47.
In the girls game, the Pioneers also started slowly but never could catch up to the Braves, finally losing for the first time this season, 72-51.
Nooksack Valley 81, La Conner 47
The Pioneers were down 1-0 even before the tipoff because of a technical they received for dunking during warmups, and after one quarter they led just 11-8. But then the Nooksack Valley press and Cody Coppinger took over.
Producing steal after steal, the defense fed Coppinger for layup after layup as the Pioneers (4-0) went on a 26-2 run in the second quarter, allowing coach Rich Skillman the opportunity to get his senior-laden bench some playing time.
“We didn’t start well, but we can learn from it,” said Skillman, whose team has now won its four non-league games by an average of 30 points. “We can really cause havoc on defense, and we have a pretty balanced lineup. We’re just trying to get better every single night.”
The scoring certainly was balanced Saturday night. Coppinger led Nooksack Valley with 15 points, but Carson Fullner-Sirmans came off the bench to score 14, Zach Johnson had 13, Cole Eldridge 12 and Keldon Weidkamp 10.
“The team made it easy for me,” said Coppinger, who had 13 points in the critical second period. “This is what we expected. We see the growth, and we feel we can take on anybody.”
La Conner 72, Nooksack Valley 51
The Braves (5-0), one of the top-ranked 2B teams in the state, scored the first seven points and used a quick-handed defense and hot shooting to keep the Pioneers at bay and hand Nooksack Valley its first loss in four games.
“They are really good,” said Nooksack Valley coach Shane Wichers. “But this will prepare us for the Northwest Conference. I told them (the Pioneers) it’s a marathon; this was just one game. We’re hoping to play 25 or 30.”
Tehya Moore led Nooksack Valley (3-1) with 14 points, Jenna Compton added 8, and Kora Larsen and Maya Galley had 6 each. But it was the Pioneers’ lowest point total of the season, and they gave up six more points than they’d given up in their previous three games — total.
“We’ll learn from this,” said Galley, whose two 3-pointers helped the Pioneers play the Braves even in the second half. “They were intense, and we have to match that intensity. We know we’ll see teams like this in league.”
Larsen, Nooksack Valley’s lone senior, saw some bright spots even in defeat.
“I was happy to see we were still fighting (the whole game),” she said. “We thought they came out and did the little things. Now we have to focus on our doing the little things.”
LaConner, which was led by Rachel Cram’s 22 points, has been beating up on the Northwest Conference this season, defeating Anacortes by 23, Mount Baker by 42 and Meridian by 28.
For all the Northwest Conference scores and standings, visit www.nwcathletics.com.