If it was going to be their last home game together, Sehome seniors Haley Henderson, Aspen Garrison and Kaylee Wilson wanted to make it a memorable one.
That they did as the Mariners, led by their three seniors, dominated crosstown rival Bellingham for a 53-33 girls basketball victory Tuesday night, May 18.
“I love this senior class,” said Sehome coach Anye Turner, whose Mariners have started the season 2-0. “And for Aspen … I’m happy that we had a senior night so we could tell her how much she means to us.”
Honoring a team’s seniors at the first home game seems to be the norm during this crazy season mainly because of concerns of later games being canceled because of COVID outbreaks.
But Sehome’s senior night was not only at their first home game, but the only home game that Garrison would be playing. After this Thursday’s game at Oak Harbor, she will be heading to St. Mary’s College in California to begin summer session and early workouts for the Gaels’ Division I basketball team.
“I’d love to stay home and go out with a full season,” said Garrison of her senior year. “I’ve waited for this. But it’s definitely been a tough time (because of the pandemic). It’s just nice to get in the gym.”
Garrison has definitely made the most of her time in the gym so far this season. After scoring 21 points to lead the Mariners over defending Class 2A state champion Lynden on Saturday, the 6-foot-2 center had 22 points on Tuesday.
“It makes it easy when your best player is your hardest worker,” said Turner. “It’s weird to have a player leave (in the middle of the season), but we’re happy to get her for some games.”
Against the smaller and short-handed Red Raiders, who only suited up seven players, Garrison and the Sehome defense were too much. In the first period, Garrison had 8 points while the Mariners shut out Bellingham, 11-0. It was 14-0 before Adi McKay hit a 3-pointer a minute into the second quarter for Bellingham’s first points.
Sehome stretched the lead to 25-8 at the half, and Turner had an opportunity to play his reserves in the second half. Wilson had 9 points, all on 3-pointers, junior Madeline Schumacher had 9 points, and sophomore Mac Cooper came off the bench for 7 points. Henderson tossed in a 3-pointer of her own.
“This is Haley’s first time being full-time on varsity, and she has been super caring and helping the younger players feel welcome,” said Turner. “And Kaylee is our quarterback. She’s shooting the ball so well, and she makes some incredible passes. She’s a complete point guard.”
While struggling on offense, Bellingham’s “iron seven” showed grit and tenacity to the end, staying close in the second half and even outscoring Sehome in the fourth quarter.
“Looking at the big scheme with a new coach, only five full practices and with half the team being new players, I’m excited,” said Bellingham coach Darcie Hill of the team’s first game. “We played against some future college players, and we executed and played hard. That says a lot about them as a team.”
The Red Raiders were led by their own seniors. McKay had a team-high 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and Alexa Mee had 8 points, all in the second half. Junior Mazy Wright added 7 points.
In an interview last week, the two Raiders seniors said they were just grateful to have a season.
“It’s definitely different,” said McKay of all the restrictions, including not having any postseason games. “The pressure is off. We can’t play for anything. We just want to have the best experience we can. We want to make it a good year for our coach.”
“We try not to compare our experience to theirs,” Mee said of last year’s seniors who had their spring season taken away. “Some people didn’t get to play. We just want to have a good senior year, and have fun.”
Bellingham’s next game is at Lynden on Saturday. The Raiders’ first home game is Monday against Blaine.
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.