Obviously, nobody told the Nooksack Valley and Ferndale girls basketball teams that early-season games are for getting the kinks out and shaking off the rust.
Because the two squads put up WNBA-style fireworks in their Northwest Conference opener as the Pioneers held off the visiting Golden Eagles for an 86-73 victory Monday night, Dec. 6.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Nooksack Valley coach Shane Wichers, whose team raised its overall record 2-1. “It was insane how well they (the Golden Eagles) shot the ball. I kept telling our team that they can’t sustain it.”
The Seattle Storm would have had trouble sustaining the offense both teams unleashed in the first half, which Nooksack Valley led, 51-45.
“They’re really good,” said Ferndale coach Terri Yost, whose squad dropped to 1-1 overall. “We battled the first half. But our shots weren’t falling (in the second half). And we tried everything on defense we could throw at them.”
The third quarter turned out to be the crucial period as the Pioneers put up 19 points to push the lead to double digits. Doing the most damage was sharp-shooting junior guard Hallie Kamphouse, who hit four of her patented corner 3-pointers in the period.
“When she’s open, I just get her the ball because I know she’s going to shoot lights out,” said point guard Devin Coppinger. “Today we all played well. Everyone got to step up.”
No one stepped higher than Coppinger. The super sophomore just missed a triple-double with 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists.
But it was a team effort for the Pioneers. Kamphouse finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, senior post McKenna Wichers added 15 points, and junior post Taylor Lentz had 10 points.
“Ferndale was relentlesss on the glass,” said coach Wichers in praise of the shorter Golden Eagles. “But we moved the ball well and found the open guy. And Hallie busted the doors wide open.”
That Nooksack Valley was in mid-season form despite only having two full days of school so far because of flooding in their community was no big surprise. The Pioneers are ranked No.2 among Class 1A schools by Scorebook Live.
What was surprising was Ferndale’s success against the defensive-minded Pioneers.
The Golden Eagles were led by their two seniors, Hannah Barlean and Kaelee Bungard, who had 17 and 10 points, respectively. Ferndale also got great play from its bench, especially sophomores Maleah Singson (12 points), Mallory Butenschoen (9 points on three 3-pointers), and Tia Gilday (9 points).
“We haven’t gotten to play much together,” said Bungard. “Last year was COVID, and we didn’t get to do much this summer. This is only our second game. But this will really help us. We’re young, and we still have lots to learn.”
For the veteran Pioneers, however, the time is now.
“We’re very focused,” said McKenna Wichers, who made three critical baskets in the fourth quarter after Ferndale cut the margin to nine. “We want to make it to state and be playing the final day.”
Ferndale continues its challenging schedule with a non-league contest at Mountlake Terrace on Tuesday and a home matchup with another strong NWC team, Sehome, on Wednesday. The Pioneers are off until Thursday when they travel to Anacortes.