After explaining what was going on with our Whatcom County basketball teams, a friend at church summed it up: “That’s complicated.”
That it is. The good news is that despite the confusing phraseology and the complicated formats, three girls teams and six boys teams are headed for state.
To save money, the WIAA — the governing body of Washington state high school sports — several years ago adopted a “regional” format for the first round of state, which will be played this Friday and Saturday, Feb. 25 and 26.
All 16 teams are involved with the bottom eight seeded teams playing each other in loser-out games.
The top eight seeded teams also play each other with the winners advancing to the following Thursday’s second round of the “real” state tournaments (in Spokane, Yakima and Tacoma). The losers play the winners of the bottom-eight regional games in Wednesday’s first round of the “real” state tournaments.
Got that? We here at Whatcom Hoops will try to keep it simple, but if you need brackets to help you visualize it, links to the WIAA brackets are listed below.
Of course, there’s an exception and it involves one of our teams. The Ferndale boys play in the Class 3A classification, which has a lot more schools than the other classifications and therefore has 20 state teams instead of 16 and an extra round of state playoffs.
So the Golden Eagles, as one of the bottom eight seeds, will play a loser-out, play-in game on Tuesday, Feb. 22. The winners of that round then advance to the weekend’s regionals, where they must once again win to advance to their state tournament in the Tacoma.
Below is the schedule for our nine teams. If they win, all will advance to the state tournaments in the Spokane Arena (for Class 1B), the Yakima SunDome (for Class 1A and 2A), and the Tacoma Dome (Class 3A).
For more information on each regional game, including what happens if our teams win or lose, keep reading. Enjoy, and keep rooting for all the Whatcom County teams.
Tuesday at Kennewick High School
7 p.m.: Ferndale boys vs. Kennewick
Friday at Mount Vernon High School
6 p.m.: Lynden girls vs. Sequin
8 p.m.: Lynden boys vs. Port Angeles
Friday at Foss High School in Tacoma
6 p.m.: Sehome boys vs. North Kitsap
Saturday at Mount Vernon High School
2 p.m.: Nooksack Valley girls vs. Colville
4 p.m.: Blaine boys vs. Wahluke
6 p.m.: Lynden Christian girls vs. Seattle Academy
8 p.m.: Lynden Christian boys vs. Annie Wright
Saturday at University High School in Spokane Valley
Noon: Lummi Nation boys vs. Cusick
No.7 LUMMI NATION (15-2) vs. No.2 CUSICK (19-1)
Saturday, noon, at University High School in Spokane Valley
If Blackhawks win: Play Thursday, March 3, at 2 p.m. vs. winner of game between No.10 Wellpinit-No.16 Orcas Island winner and No.1 Almira Coulee Hartline-No.8 DeSales loser.
If Blackhawks lose: Play Wednesday, March 2, at 10:30 a.m. vs. No.10 Mount Vernon Christian-No.15 Riverside Christian winner
Regional outlook: With several regulars back from the 2020 semifinalist squad, Lummi Nation is ready to make another deep state run. But they’ll have their work cut out for them right off the bat with a Panthers squad from the tough Northeast 1B League that was undefeated until losing by two in the district final to rival and top-seed Almira Coulee Hartline.
No.2 LYNDEN CHRISTIAN (18-1) vs. No.7 ANNIE WRIGHT (18-4)
Saturday, 8 p.m., at Mount Vernon High School
If Lyncs win: Play Thursday, March 3, at 2 p.m. vs. winner of game between No.9 Blaine-No.16 Wahluke winner vs. No.1 King’s-No.8 Quincy loser
If Lyncs lose: Play Wednesday, March 2, at 10:30 a.m. vs. No.10 Seattle Academy-No.15 Eatonville winner
Regional outlook: First of all, yes, Annie Wright does have a boys team. And second of all, the Gators from Tacoma are pretty good. Three of their four losses have been to fellow Nisqually League powerhouse Life Christian, which is one of the state favorites along with King’s and Lynden Christian. LC will be favored against Annie Wright, but this shouldn’t be a walkover.
No.9 BLAINE (13-6) vs. No.16 WAHLUKE (12-8)
Saturday, 4 p.m., at Mount Vernon High School
If Borderites win: Play Wednesday, March 2, at 2 p.m. vs. No.1 King’s-No.8 Quincy loser
If Borderites lose: Their season is done.
Regional outlook: The good news is that barring a major upset (Quincy beating tournament favorite King’s), Blaine could face two lower seeds in its first two games. The bad news is that if the Borderites get that far, they’ll probably face Lynden Christian, which has beaten them handily twice. But first things first: The battle-tested Borderites will have to get past the equally battle-tested Warriors, who snagged one of the Yakima Valley’s state berths.
No.1 LYNDEN CHRISTIAN (18-4) vs. No.8 SEATTLE ACADEMY (18-3)
Friday, 6 p.m., at Mount Vernon High School
If Lyncs win: Play Thursday, March 3, at 5:30 p.m. vs. winner of game between No.10 Annie Wright-No.15 LaCenter winner and No.2 Nooksack Valley-No.7 Colville loser
If Lyncs lose: Play Wednesday, March 2, at 9 p.m. vs. No.9 Wapato-No.16 Overlake winner
Regional outlook: With only one veteran back from the 2020 state championship team, the Lyncs are a surprise top seed even though they’ve won 15 of their last 16. Is another rematch with fellow favorite Nooksack Valley in the cards? The Lyncs will start their quest against a tough Cardinals team that has won 13 in a row, including a district championship game victory over King’s.
No.2 NOOKSACK VALLEY (18-3) vs. No.7 COLVILLE (16-3)
Saturday, 2 p.m., at Mount Vernon High School
If Pioneers win: Play Thursday, March 3, at 9 p.m. vs. winner of game between No.9 Wapato-No.16 Overtake winner and No.1 Lynden Christian-No.8 Seattle Academy loser
If Pioneers lose: Play Wednesday, March 2, at 5:30 p.m. vs. No.10-Annie Wright-No.15 La Center winner.
Regional outlook: Nooksack Valley’s biggest advantage over Colville might not be the Pioneers’ tough schedule (their only loses are to the top seeds in the Class 2B, 1A, and 2A state tournaments) or even as much talent as any team in the tourney. If there’s one reason you wouldn’t want to play the Pioneers, it’s because they are coming off a disappointing loss to LC and will stop at nothing for another rematch with the Lyncs for all the state marbles.
No.2 LYNDEN (19-2) vs. No.7 PORT ANGELES (18-5)
Friday, 8 p.m., at Mount Vernon High School
If Lions win: Play Thursday, March 3, at 9 p.m. vs. winner of game between No.1 North Kitsap-No.8 Sehome loser and No.9 Lakewood-No.16 Sammamish winner
If Lions lose: Play Wednesday, March 2, at 5:30 p.m. vs. No.10 Franklin Pierce-No.15 W.F. West winner
Regional outlook: The Lions’ bid to finish in the top three at state for the sixth straight time will be tested right away against the tough Roughriders, who have a victory over top-ranked North Kitsap on their resume. Lynden, however, is playing at a high level and will be looking to finish higher than just third place.
No.8 SEHOME (15-6) vs. No.1 NORTH KITSAP (21-3)
Friday, 6 p.m., at Foss High School in Tacoma
If Mariners win: Play Thursday, March 3, at 5:30 p.m. vs. winner of game between No.2 Lynden-No.7 Port Angeles loser and No.10 Franklin Pierce-No.15 W.F. West winner
If Mariners lose: Play Wednesday, March 2, at 9 p.m. vs. No.9 Lakewood vs. No.16 Sammamish winner
Regional outlook: If one county team got a bad scheduling break, it’s the Mariners. They open against defending state champion and No.1 North Kitsap, which beat Sehome by 23 on Jan. 17. Then, should they win that one, the Mariners would probably face old foe and second-ranked Lynden, which has two wins over Sehome this season. But these Mariners are dangerous and would like nothing better than another crack at both the Vikings and Lions.
No.12 LYNDEN (15-6) vs. No.13 SEQUIM (19-4)
Friday, 6 p.m., at Mount Vernon High School
If Lions win: Play Wednesday, March 2, at 12:15 p.m. vs. No.5 Archbishop Murphy-No.4 W.F. West loser
If Lions lose: Their season is done
Regional outlook: The Lions have only one veteran left from the 2020 state championship squad, but they definitely have played a schedule against state-caliber teams. Playing in front of the home crowd in the friendly confines of Mount Vernon High also will help. But there are no more easy games even against double-digit seeds, so Lynden will need to bring its A game on Friday.
No.18 FERNDALE (11-11) vs. No.15 KENNEWICK (15-8)
Tuesday, 7 p.m., at Kennewick High School
If Golden Eagles win: Play Friday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m. vs. No.10 Lake Washington at Bellevue Community College
If Golden Eagles lose: Their season is done.
Play-in outlook: The Golden Eagles will go into the lions’ den — literally — when they face Kennewick on the Lions’ home floor. It would be easy to celebrate what Ferndale has accomplished — qualifying for state for the first time in 26 years — but these Golden Eagles aren’t satisfied. And they have just as much state experience as the Lions, who haven’t been to state since 2015. Don’t be surprised if the Ferndale fairy tale continues.