Playoffs: Meridian Boys, LC Girls Earn State Berths; Lummi Teams Split Semis

One game was decided at the final buzzer, the other was essentially over after the first quarter. And when the excitement was done at the Class 1A District 1 consolation finals on Friday night, Feb. 16, it was the Meridian boys and Lynden Christian girls who earned state berths with wins.

Meridian rallied from 14 points down to beat Nooksack Valley on Cohen Fuller’s fastbreak layup that bounced, bounced, and went through at the buzzer to give the Trojans an exciting and emotional 67-65 victory in the night’s first game.

“I’ve never been part of anything like that,” said Shane Stacy, who has only coached Meridian for 22 years. “We only led for one-tenth of a second. Unbelievable.”

NEXT UP  SATURDAY: The Sehome girls will take on Archbishop Murphy with a state berth at stake in the Class 2A district consolation final at 5:30 p.m. at Mount Vernon High. The Lummi Nation winds up the tri-district tournaments at Mount Vernon Christian with the boys in the title game at 8:15 p.m. and the girls playing for third place at 3 p.m. For all the action, check out Whatcom Hoops.

In the nightcap at Lynden High, the Lynden Christian girls led the whole way in beating Meridian, 62-12. The victory gave the Lyncs their 19th straight state tournament appearance.

In the 1B District 1/2/3 semifinals at Mount Vernon, the Lummi Nation boys defeated Tulalip Heritage for the fourth time, 61-47, to advance to the tri-district championship game, but the Lummi Nation girls couldn’t pull off the upset against No.1-ranked Neah Bay and fell, 54-29.

Both Lummi Nation squads already had qualified for the state regionals along with the Lynden boys and girls in 2A, and the Lynden Christian boys and Nooksack Valley girls in 1A. Regional pairings will be announced Sunday so be looking for the story in Whatcom Hoops.

Here are the results from Friday’s playoff action:

Class 1A District

Meridian Boys Rally To Beat Nooksack Valley In Thriller, 67-65

The two came in with identical 12-11 records, had split their two earlier meetings, and seemed destined for overtime with the score tied at 65 as the last 10 seconds ticked away.

But Nooksack Valley’s last shot by Colton Lentz was partially blocked with five seconds left. Meridian’s Taran Burks picked up the loose ball, took a couple of dribbles, and scooped it underhand to a streaking Fuller, who took two dribbles and laid the ball off the backboard with 0:00.1 on the clock.

A second later, the Meridian side of Jake Maberry Gym went wild and the Nooksack side went in shock as the Trojans finished off the great comeback, 67-65, to earn the district’s second and final state berth. The Pioneers, unfortunately, had their season come to an end in the blink of an eye.

For a look at the exciting final seconds, check out Randy Small’s video.

“Amazing,” said Fuller when asked how he felt minutes after being mobbed by teammates. “Things were not going our way. But we played great defense. It was a whole team effort.”

Fellow senior Burks, who had 13 points and the big assist while playing all 32 minutes, also was basking in the glow of the biggest victory of his career.

“It’s what you hope for,” said the guard also praising his teammates. “To win it like that … the last shot, the last chance (to go to state). It was the energy from everybody, not just the guys on the floor but the guys on the bench. Everyone.”

There actually were heroes aplenty for both teams. The Pioneers took command early and when Meridian’s leading scorer, junior Talon Jenkins, got into foul trouble, Nooksack Valley built up a 14-point margin early in the second half.

Junior post Brady Ackerman dominated inside and would finish with 16 points for the Pioneers. Junior point guard Caden Heutink controlled the game and had 12 points. And sophomore Cole Coppinger came off the bench to spark the Pioneers with 11 points.

But Meridian keep clawing back, closing to within eight going into the fourth quarter. And while Jenkins played most of the second half with four fouls, Ackerman and Heutink would eventually foul out.

Meridian would outscore the Pioneers, 43-29, after intermission as senior Christian Clawson had 13 of his 15 points in the second half and Jenkins had 12 of his game-high 18 points in the final two periods. And none were bigger than the last of his four 3-pointers, which came with 16 seconds left and tied the game at 65.

Which led to the final exciting seconds and Fuller’s state-clinching layup.

“My immediate reaction was one of disbelief,” said Stacy. “To go on that run with one of our best players in foul trouble and another (junior Jaeger Fyfe) on the bench … it was just an unbelievable showing of the strength of our bench.”

Fuller would finish with 9 points, and Fyfe had 6 before fouling out. For Nooksack Valley, Lentz added 9 points and junior Cory Olney had 7.

“Foul trouble started stacking up for both sides,” said first-year Nooksack Valley coach Jason Heutink. “It just caught up with us. And we didn’t get a couple of breaks at the end.”

Both the rookie coach and veteran were gracious in praising the others’ team.

“I want to congratulation Meridian and we hope they go down to state and beat some people,” said Heutink, who came within seconds of taking Nooksack Valley to state for the first time since 2011. It would also be the final Nooksack game for five seniors — Joseph Brown, Jorge Vigre, Brock Lankhaar, Wayne Silves, and Dalton Hickey. 

Stacy, who has been on the other end of tough losses including the past two years when the Trojans were knocked out by Nooksack, had only praise for the Pioneers.

“My heart goes out to those guys,” he said. “For them to put that effort in tonight … that was a tough way to lose.”

But it was a satisfying way to win and puts Meridian back in the state regionals for the first time since 2020 and only the second time since 2010. 

“It feels great,” said Fuller, who was an eighth grader the last time Meridian played in Yakima. “We’re super pumped no matter what happens.”

Meridian 67, Nooksack Valley 65

Meridian                   11       13       20       23—67

Nooksack Valley      18       18       16       13—65

Meridian: Jenkins 18, Fuller 12, Fyfe 6, Amundson 1, Burks 13, Brzozowski 1, Clawson 15, Hedahl 1.

Nooksack Valley: Coppinger 11, Olney 7, Lentz 9, Heutink 12, Brown 2, Silves 5, D. Ackerman 3, B. Ackerman 16.


Saturday, Feb. 10

At Lynden High

Consolation round

Nooksack Valley 66, Mount Baker 47 (loser out)

Championship game

Lynden Christian 71, Meridian 58 (winner to state)

Friday, Feb. 16

At Lynden High

Consolation final

Meridian 67, Nooksack Valley 65 (winner to state, loser out)

Lynden Christian Girls Rout Meridian To Return To State, 62-12

The excitement and suspense of the first consolation final were missing in the second as Lynden Christian’s defense completely shut down Meridian in winning, 62-12.

“I was happy we came out and defended at a high level,” said Lynden Christian coach Brady Bomber, whose program has won six state titles and placed in the top four in each of the past 17 state tournaments. “It’s survive and advance (in the playoffs). We don’t want to take that (going to state) for granted.”

The Lyncs (17-7) were focused from the outset and were ahead 16-0 before Meridian junior Brooklyn Fuller sank a floater with 3:46 left in the first quarter. It would be only points the Trojans could muster against LC’s intimidating defense until there was 3:30 left in the second quarter and by then Meridian trailed 32-2.

“It was a good game for us,” said junior Grace Hintz, who led the balanced Lynden Christian attack with 15 points. “We wanted to get them right away.”

With the Lyncs’ substituting liberally and the clock running in the fourth quarter, their offense slowed down, but not their defense, which limited Meridian to three points in the second half.

Eleven Lyncs scored. Junior Dayna Dykstra had 9 points, senior Tabby DeJong had 8 points, Ella Fritts had 7 points, and freshman Kortney Tolsma added 6 points.

Maddy Swanson had 4 points to lead Meridian, which finished the year 7-17 but took third in the district that has No.1-ranked Nooksack Valley and Lynden Christian, the top two teams in the state the past two years.

“There are a lot of things we can build on,” said Meridian coach Bree Joy. “I’m so proud of the girls. We can see fantastic glimpses of what they’re capable of. I wanted them to see they can play with the best. Tonight it was LC’s game, but there’ll be a time when it’s Meridian’s.”

Lost in the tears was the play of Meridian’s Malia McCauley, who after season-ending injuries to starters Allie Richter and Savannah Storgaard was the Trojans’ lone senior. And Friday she played nearly the whole game as she has the whole year — with a stress fracture in her foot.

“She gave it her all,” said Joy, who played four freshman, two sophomores, and only one junior and one senior. 

And so did LC’s Hintz, who returned just weeks ago after knee surgery last summer on her torn ACL. She, along with DeJong, the team’s lone senior, and Fritts are the only players with real state experience on Lynden Christian’s team.

“I’m just happy to be on the court with my teammates,” said Hintz, who was an all-state guard last year. “I’ve been playing with these girls forever. Our chemistry off the court is amazing.”

And it’s pretty good on the court too.

Lynden Christian 62, Meridian 12

Meridian                 2         7         2       1—12

Lynden Christian  25       13       16       8—62

Meridian: Fuller 3, McCauley, Koning, Bernardy 2, Neal 3, K. Storgaard, Swanson 4, Benson.

Lynden Christian: Dykstra 9, Tveter 2, Hernandez 2, Fritts 7, Hintz 15, Tolsma 6, Russell 2, DeJong 8, Van Loo, Shumate 9, Eshuis 2.


Saturday, Feb. 10

At Lynden High

Consolation round

Meridian 40, Blaine 38 (loser out)

Championship game

Nooksack Valley 53, Lynden Christian 45 (winner to state regionals)

Friday, Feb. 16

At Lynden High

Consolation final

Lynden Christian 62, Meridian 12 (winner to state regionals, loser out)

Class 1B Tri-district

Lummi Nation Boys Defeat Tulalip Again, 61-49

The fourth time, like the three previous times, was not the charm for Tulalip Heritage as Lummi Nation beat the Hawks, 61-49, to advance to the tri-district championship game against Neah Bay on Saturday at 8:15 p.m. at Mount Vernon Christian.

The Blackhawks beat Tulalip, 72-33 and 73-47 in league play, and 69-28 for the District 1 title. This time, however, was a lot closer.

Lummi Nation, which is the No.1-ranked 1B team and won for the 21st time in 22 games, jumped out to a 20-10 lead and was cruising with a 16-point lead at the half. But the Hawks never stopped battling their rivals and refused to be blown out again in the second half.

“It was another battle versus Tulalip tonight,” said Lummi Nation coach Jerome Toby. “Our boys had a great start to the game. We had a lot of contributions from the bench tonight.” 

Sophomore Jerome Toby Jr. led the Blackhawks with 20 points, including three 3-points. Junior Karson Revey came off the bench to score 11 points, including eight points with two 3s in the big first quarter, and pull down 6 rebounds. Freshman Dyson Edwards added 9 points, and senior Desmond Bailey had 7 points.

The Blackhawks will now play third-ranked Neah Bay for the tri-district title. Both teams already have qualified for the state tournament. Tulalip Heritage fell to 15-8 and will play for third place on Saturday.

Lummi Nation 61, Tulalip Heritage 47

Tulalip Heritage       10       12       14       11—47

Lummi Nation         20       18       12        11—61

Tulalip Heritage: Guzman 10, Jefferson, Black Tomahawk 16, Gray 16, Shopbell, Hatch 5, D. Pablo.

Lummi Nation: Toby 20, Francis 5, Johnson 3, Edwards 9, Day 2, Abrams 2, Lee 2, Revey 11, Bailey 7.


Friday, Feb. 16

Consolation round

Summit Classical Christian 65, Mount Vernon Christian 51

Sound Christian Academy 60, Crescent 30


Lummi Nation 61, Tulalip Heritage 47

Neah Bay 69, Muckleshoot Tribal School 48

Saturday, Feb. 17

At Mount Vernon Christian

Consolation games

Crescent vs. Mount Vernon Christian, 10 a.m. (winner seventh, to state regionals, loser out)

Sound Christian Academy vs. Summit Classical Christian, 1:15 p.m. (winner fifth, loser sixth, both to state regionals)

Muckleshoot Tribal School vs. Tulalip Heritage, 4:45 p.m. (winner third, loser fourth, both to state regionals)

Championship game

Lummi Nation vs Neah Bay, 8:15 p.m. (winner first, loser second, both to state regionals)

Lummi Nation Girls Can’t Stay With No.1 Neah Bay, 54-29

At the end of the first half, the Lummi Nation girls still had hopes of knocking off top-ranked Neah Bay in the tri-district semifinals. But the Red Devils pulled away in the second half to down the Lady Blackhawks, 54-29.

Sophomore Ailana Rabang led Lummi Nation with 14 points. Serena Jo Pantalia added 6 points and fellow senior Zeta Landsem had 5 points.

The Lady Blackhawks, who fell to 18-7 on the year, will play Crosspoint in the tri-district consolation finals with the winner earning third place and the loser fourth. Both teams have already qualified for state.

Neah Bay improved to 18-2, the two losses coming to the top two 2B schools. The Red Devils were led by Qwaapeys Greene’s 20 points and will play Mount Vernon Christian for the tri-district title Saturday night.

Neah Bay 54, Lummi Nation 29

Lummi Nation       6       12         0      11—29

Neah Bay             14       10       13      17—54

Lummi Nation: J. James,Metteba, Rabang 14, Pantalia 6, K. Morris 4, Mak. Morris, Landsem 5.

Neah Bay: A. Halttunen 2, Greene 20, McGimsey, D. Halttunen, Ce. Moss 5, Ca. Moss, Martin 3, Swan, Day 11, R. Moss 9.


Friday, Feb. 16

Consolation round

Evergreen Lutheran 33, Grace Academy 21 (loser out)

Sound Christian Academy 38,. Darrington 28 (loser out)


Mount Vernon Christian 42, Crosspoint 40

Neah Bay 54, Lummi Nation 29

Saturday, Feb. 17

At Mount Vernon Christian

Consolation games

Sound Academy vs. Evergreen Lutheran (winner fifth, to state regionals, loser out), 11:30 a.m.

Lummi Nation vs. Crosspoint (winner third, loser fourth, both to state regionals), 3 p.m.

Championship game

Neah Bay vs. Mount Vernon Christian (winner first, loser second, both to state regionals), 6 p.m.

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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