Sometimes the score tells the whole story, and in a way the Nooksack Valley girls’ 64-16 victory over visiting Blaine did just that.
The talented and deep Pioneers, one of the top Class 1A teams in the state, played the kind of defense the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom would be proud of in stifling the inexperienced and undermanned Borderites on Thursday, May 20.
And on offense, Nooksack Valley unleashed its long-distance artillery, making 13 3-pointers.
The big gun was sophomore Hallie Kamphouse, who hit eight 3s and finished with a game-high 28 points. Coach Shane Wichers wasn’t sure of the school mark for 3-pointers, but said it was the most in his 25 years in the program, so for now let’s give Kamphouse the unofficial Nooksack record.
Freshman sensation Devin Coppinger added 13 points for Nooksack Valley (now 2-0 overall and in Northwest Conference), and senior Maya Galley had 11 points, including three 3-pointers. The only thing that could slow the Pioneers was a running clock in the fourth quarter, when they scored only three points.
“It’s been fun being able to get back in the gym with all the returnees,” said Galley, one of eight Pioneers back from last year’s Class 1A state tournament squad. “We all get along. And we want to play selfless ball … we want it to be about the team.”
Fellow senior Jenna Compton agreed. “We are just thankful we get to play. Now we want to make the most of it.”
So far the Pioneers have made the most of their season. In their opener Saturday, they knocked off defending Class 2A state champion Lynden on the road.
“We have a lot of weapons and can do a lot of things,” said Wichers. “Our goal is to be the best we can be. They are pretty focused … and pretty relentless.”
The Pioneers were certainly relentless in shutting down Blaine’s offense. The Borderites weren’t able to reach double digits until the second half. Hailey Pike had 7 points, and was the only Borderite with more than 3 points.
But sometimes the score doesn’t tell the whole story.
While Nooksack Valley was returning all but one player from an outstanding team and being reinforced with talented freshmen, Blaine only had 12 girls turn out this year, only three of whom had ever played basketball in high school.
Which put all the pressure on returning starters Pike and fellow junior Krystin Kamrath, who were the center of attention for Nooksack Valley’s defense.
“We play in a tough league, and we have to work through growing pains,” said Blaine coach Ryan Pike. “But I told the girls you can only control your effort and your attitude, and both were fantastic tonight. If they keep doing that, we’ll improve.”
Starting off the season Tuesday against Lynden Christian, the defending Class 1A state champion, and then Nooksack Valley would make almost any team look bad, especially one with six freshmen and sophomores. But Hailey Pike and Kamrath chose to look at the positive side.
“We’re told, ‘Don’t compare, compete,’” said Hailey, repeating her coach/father’s pet phrase. “It’s all about our relationships with the other girls.”
Said Kamrath: “We haven’t worked together at all (before this season). Now we get to play with the underclassmen. We want to have fun and do what we can to give 100 percent and improve with the team.”
Blaine’s toughness and competitiveness against a better team impressed even the coach of the better team.
“Give Ryan credit,” said Wichers. “They’re building a program. And they battled the whole way (tonight).”
Coach Pike was quick to return the compliment.
“With the right draw, I could see them playing in the state semifinals,” Pike said of the Pioneers. “And tonight they just shot the lights out.”
Even though there will be no playoffs in this COVID-tainted season, Nooksack Valley will get an opportunity to test itself against the best when the Pioneers host Lynden Christian on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. Blaine’s next game will be at Sedro-Woolley on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
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.