1A Girls District: LC Beats Meridian For Title And State Berth

Yes, winning the Class 1A District 1 title was important to the Lynden Christian girls basketball team, but Wednesday’s 57-41victory over Meridian in the district championship game was huge for another reason: It guaranteed the Lyncs a return trip to state.

“That was our goal,” said LC junior guard Riley Dykstra, who had 11 points and is one of the returning starters from last year’s state championship team. “We’ve been waiting for today.”

But it wasn’t just the veterans who were excited. “I’m so pumped,” said freshman guard Libby Stump, who contributed 10 important points off the bench. “This is my first state tournament.”

The victory also gives the Lyncs (19-3) a spot in the Bi-District 1/2 championship game this Saturday against District 2 champion Overlake of Redmond. Both teams automatically qualify for the regional-round of the state tournament, which will be held Feb. 22 and 23. 

Meridian (18-5) also moves into the bi-district tournament, but will have to win one more game to qualify for Yakima. The Trojans will host the winner of Thursday’s Nooksack Valley-Bush game on Friday in a winner-to-state, loser-out contest.

For more details and photos of the game, and updates on how our Whatcom County teams are doing in the 1B, 1A, 2A, and 3A tournaments, be sure to keep checking www.whatcomhoops.com. 

At the half of Wednesday’s district championship game, with the Trojans owning a two-point lead, it appeared that the two Class 1A powers were in for another close contest, just like they had two weeks ago when Meridian came from eight points behind in the final four minutes to win.

But it was not to be Wednesday night. The Lyncs put the defensive clamps on the Trojans, giving up only 18 second-half points, and doubled that with 36 points of their own after intermission.

Stump’s three-point play started a 16-3 burst in the final four minutes of the third quarter that put the Lyncs up by nine going into the final period, and they never let up.

“Our girls locked down (on defense),” said LC coach Brady Bomber, citing the defense of forward Grace Sterk on Meridian standout Jolee Sipma. Sipma still led the Trojans with 17 points, but said Bomber, “Grace made Jolee earn them all.”

Sipma was the only Trojan in double figures, and Madeline Bowler’s seven points were next best as Meridian was held to its lowest point total of the season.

“”We did the things we wanted to in the first half,” said Meridian coach Mark Gilmore. “But LC extended its defense (in the second half) and that made us hurry. Offensively, we did a lot of things that weren’t in sync.”

As she has all season, all-state forward Isabela Hernandez led the Lyncs with 17 points. In addition to Dykstra and Stump scoring in double figures, sophomore guard Emily Mellema tossed in nine points.

Lynden Christian 57, Meridian 41
Lynden Christian                     10       11      20    16 — 57
Meridian                                    12       11        9      9 — 41

Lynden Christian: Libby Stump 10, Josie Bocci, Isabela Hernandez 17, Kiley Roetcisoender 1, Riley Dykstra 11, Liv Mellema 2, Emily Mellema 9, Kenadi Fay, Grace Sterk 7.

Meridian: Madeline Bowler 7, Amanda Schleimer 6, Finley Claeys, Makenna Holz 5, Lexi Groen, Lindsey Moore 6, Jolee Sipma 17, Skyleigh James.

Nooksack Valley’s Jenna Compton battles for two of her team-high 10 points. (Will Rice photo)

Nooksack Valley Falls To King’s, But Still In Bi-District

King’s had too much firepower Wednesday night as the Knights defeated Nooksack Valley, 54-34, in the District 1 consolation final at Mount Vernon High School.

Jenna Compton had 10 points, Kora Larsen had nine and Tehya added eight to lead Nooksack Valley (14-9), which had to settle for fourth place.

But fourth is good enough to send the Pioneers into the bi-district tournament, where they will travel to Seattle to face the Bush School on Thursday at 6 p.m. in a loser-out game .

The Pioneers can still make it to state, but they will not only have to win Thursday but they will have to beat Northwest Conference rival Meridian on Friday at 7 p.m. in a winner-to-state, loser-out contest.

Nooksack Valley fell behind after the Knights started with a 20-8 first quarter, but cut the margin to eight going into the final period. But the Pioneers were held to just two points in the fourth quarter.

King’s (18-5) took third and also advances to the bi-district tournament.

King’s 54, Nooksack Valley 34
Nooksack Valley                       8       10     14       2 — 34
King’s                                        20       11       9     14 — 54

Nooksack Valley: Kora Larsen 9, Tehya Moore 8, Maya Galley 5, Vanessa Galindo, McKenna Wichers, Lexi Strong, Jenna Tenkley 2, Jenna Compton 10, Kaity Paz, Aubree Bird.

King’s: Dominique Kirton 2, Mia Flor 4, Ashley Gray 10, Peri Welch 2, Emma Storkson, Annika Ruud, Jada Wynn 20, Claire Gallagher 13, Jadyn Kirton 3.

First round (last Wednesday)
Nooksack Valley 56, Granite Falls 29 (loser out)
Coupeville 48, Sultan 37 (loser out)

Semifinals (last Wednesday)
Meridian 73, Cedar Park Christian (Bothell) 25
Lynden Christian 65, King’s 48 

Consolation round (last Thursday)
Nooksack Valley 53, Cedar Park Christian 22 (loser out)
King’s 48, Coupeville 11 (loser out)

Consolation final (Wednesday)
King’s 54, Nooksack Valley 34 (winner third, loser fourth, both to bi-district)

Championship final (Wednesday)
Lynden Christian 57, Meridian 41 (winner first, loser second, both to bi-district, winner to state)

(Full schedule and bracket at nwcathletics.com)
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.

LC, Lynden Basketball: Handing State Crowns Down Through The Generations

Three years ago, when coach Brady Bomber was looking to inspire his Lynden Christian girls basketball team before the state tournament, he found a box full of old basketballs in the gym attic.

But these were not just any basketballs; these were balls signed by some of LC’s state championship teams. And a few of those signatures were very familiar to the Lyncs players.

“We saw the names of our Moms,” said senior Isabela Hernandez, who was a freshman on the 2016 squad. “It’s special, and it makes me proud (that her mother won state). We wanted to be like our Moms.”

Hernandez and the Lyncs did just that, winning a state championship in 2016 and then again last year, which tied Hernandez with her mother, Tanna (Bos) Hernandez, who won state titles with the Lyncs in 1990 and 1991.

Think about that. Where else but in basketball-crazy Lynden would you find high school players winning state championships just like their parents … and even their grandparents?

And not just one or two players. This year, there are at least seven players returning from the Lynden and Lynden Christian boys teams and the LC girls team that won state titles last year who had fathers or mothers who also accomplished the same feat.

And that doesn’t include another four players who are new to the Lynden or LC teams this year whose parents won titles, or another couple whose parents won state titles in other sports or even more whose parents made it to a basketball state championship game or semifinal.

The Lyncs and Lions square off this week for two important Northwest Conference games. The Lynden girls are at Lynden Christian on Thursday, Jan. 24, and the LC boys are at Lynden on Friday, Jan. 25. Both games start at 7:15 p.m.

“It’s so difficult to win a state championship,” acknowledged LC boys coach Roger DeBoer, who was a starting guard on the 1982 Lyncs state championship squad and whose son Jaden is on this year’s team.

“It’s great to be part of a program where that’s the expectation … to be in the hunt every year. It’s the same way across the tracks. It’s no different at Lynden (High).”

But even in the town of Lynden, this is a unique time when the children of the players who won state titles in the early ‘90s are winning titles of their own.

“Our kids appreciate it (the winning tradition),” said Bomber, who was a star guard on the 2007 Lynden boys state championship team. “Their parents set the example, and instilled in them hard work and sacrifice. There’s even a healthy competition to do what their Moms did.”

That’s certainly true in the Hernandez household.

“After my freshman year, there was a joke in our house that she’d won two,” said Isabela. “Then after we won last year, I told her, ‘I’m tied with you.’”

Of course, even if the Lyncs repeat in March and Isabela wins her third state crown, she can’t brag too much. Her sister Lexi was part of last year’s team as a freshman … which means she could get four.

Family Trees Bear Championship Fruit

In addition to the Hernandez sisters, LC junior Liv Mellema and her mother Shannon (Pecarich) Mellema won state titles. And while he didn’t win a state title, Liv’s great-grandfather and Shannon’s grandfather, Gale Bishop, is considered one of the best players in Whatcom County history.

On the LC boys side, there is the reigning Class 1A player of the year, senior Cole Bajema, whose mother, Beth (Hollander) Bajema, was an all-stater who led the Lyncs to the 1990 state championship.

But if there is a First Family of LC basketball, it would have to be Riley Dykstra’s clan.

The junior was a key part of last year’s girls state championship, following in the footsteps of mother Shannon Dykstra, an all-state guard on the ’96 state title team; father Jeff Dykstra, who was on Lynden’s 1992 state title squad; and her two grandfathers — Glenn Dykstra, who was the MVP of the 1976 state tournament that the Lyncs won, and Roger Dykstra, who was on Lynden’s first state championship team in 1961.

And that doesn’t even include Riley’s sister, Avery, who graduated last year after winning two titles; their younger brother, Logan, who is a sophomore on the boys team; and her uncle Grant, who helped the Lyncs win it all in 1999.

“I watched my sister win one (in 2016), and then my dream came true to play with her,” said Riley of the 2018 undefeated dream season. “Last year there was some talk about it (the history), but I didn’t even think about it. My family always tells me the stories, about how they won. And they give me tips. I like the tips best.”

Of course, not to be outdone, Lynden High has its own family trees with state champions.

Junior Brock Heppner, who won it with the Lions last year, also has royal blood on both sides of his family.

His father, Brian, was a star on the 1991 Lynden state championship team. But they all have to take a back seat to Mom, Sally (Shagren) Heppner, who was on three state title teams at LC (1990-92), not to mention a couple of state softball crowns.

Add to that Grandpa Howard Heppner, who as one of the all-time Lynden greats led the Lions to back-to-back state titles in 1961 and ’62.

Also returning from last year’s Lynden boys championship squad is senior Dakota Baar, whose father, Chad, was the starting center on Lynden’s back-to-back titles in 1991 and ’92. 

For some, the family tradition of passing state crowns down through the generations may seem like so much ancient history, but that’s not how the players look at it. For them, it’s part of the tradition of growing up watching their schools at state and then playing for them at state.

“Everybody on our team has been in the stands (at state) growing up,” said Jaden DeBoer. “I remember the last year they (the LC boys) won it. I was in third grade.”

Isabela Hernandez agreed: “It isn’t ancient history. People still talk about it today.”

TOP PHOTO (from left): Tanna Bos and Shannon Pecarich in 1991 and daughters Isabela Hernandez and Liv Mellema in 2018 celebrate state titles. And the daughters are even wearing their mothers’ numbers.

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.

Cole Bajema follows in the footsteps of his mother, Beth Hollander.


Riley Dykstra comes from a family of state champions.


Lexi Hernandez (30) listens to her coach, Brady Bomber, who also won a state title as a player.


Brock Heppner has championship genes on both sides of the family.


Dakota Baar is looking to repeat as a state champion, just like his dad Chad.


Jaden DeBoer gets some fatherly wisdom from Coach Roger DeBoer.


Isabela Hernandez (left) and Liv Mellema are aiming for another state title.

Sehome, Squalicum Girls Coaches Build On Their Western Connection

When Ray Ootsey and Anye Turner played basketball at Western Washington University, they were taught to give back to the community … and now the two head coaches are doing just that at Squalicum and Sehome high schools.

Ootsey and Turner are the latest members of a very exclusive club — former Western men’s and women’s basketball players who have become head coaches at Whatcom County high schools. In fact, they are the first ones since the late 1990s.

“We learned ‘what you get, you give back,’” said Ootsey, who played for the Vikings in the 1987-88 and 1988-89 seasons.

“Giving back to the community is something we try to do and should do,” said Turner, who finished his four-career as team MVP in 2015. “When the game has given you so much, you try to give some of it back.”

Making the two even more unique is that they are coaching girls basketball, and Ootsey’s Storm and Turner’s Mariners squared off for the second time this season on Friday night in the newly built Sehome gym — and their friendship didn’t diminish the intensity of the intra-city battle.

Passing On That Passion

Squalicum overcame a slow start Friday — falling behind 11-1 — to take a 14-point lead and then held off the Mariners, 47-37. Sophomore point guard Grace Schroder led the Storm with a dozen points and sealed the win by hitting 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch.

Seniors Jadyn Hawkinson and Mady Blackwell added 9 and 8 points, respectively, for Squalicum (4-11 overall and 2-7 in Northwest Conference play).

Sehome, which was plagued by foul trouble all night, got 13 points from senior Natalie Zender and 8 from sophomore Aspen Garrison. But a 4-point third quarter was too much for the Mariners (6-10 overall, 1-8 in conference) to overcome.

Be sure to check the Whatcom Hoops Facebook page for lots of pictures from Friday’s Squalicum-Sehome game.
But while the game was more for bragging rights than a league championship, that didn’t prevent both coaches from competing on the sidelines with the same intensity they had when they played Central on the court.
“He’s very passionate,” said Sehome senior Dana Ruffatto of Turner. “You know he has our back.”
Zender agreed. “He’s willing to do anything for our team,” said the four-year letter winner. “Whether he’s quiet or loud, he does it to motivate us.”
Turner showed his passion Friday, getting a technical when he took to the floor to protect one of his players who was injured. But showing that competitiveness wasn’t anything new. “I bring a passion for basketball,” he said. “That’s how I am every game.”
The animated Ootsey was not to be outdone, constantly imploring his team both on offense and defense, and letting the referees know when he thought they missed a call.
“Everyone in the gym knows I’m always passionate,” he said. “Some may take it the wrong way, but I never waver.”
That passion has made a difference in his players’ lives. Just ask Blackwell, who said she had a rough time her sophomore and junior years and was ready to quit basketball.
“He gave me back my love of basketball,” she said. “He wants us to love it as much as he does. He’s the most encouraging guy on the face of the planet. He doesn’t go five minutes without telling us something positive.”

Teaching Their Players Life Lessons

Besides teaching basketball skills, Ootsey and Turner want to give back to their players an appreciation for being the best they can be on and off the court, and playing for each other.

That is something needed in an era when league standings are emphasized more than moral standing, and points per game are more important than grade points.

“From Day 1, our mantra is not about winning or losing on the scoreboard,” said Ootsey. “It’s about how much you grow, if you get better (as a person). We want them to learn about life, to appreciate what you’re doing right now.”

One of the ways he does that at Squalicum is with “spotlights” — a time in practice when all the varsity, JV and C team members take a moment to say something positive about a teammate. There’s also the awarding of the “pink basketball” to the player of the week, who is picked by the coaches and who gets to sign the ball.

That positiveness has spread throughout the program said Hawkinson, who along with fellow senior Blackwell also played for Ootsey on the junior varsity.

“He loves the game, but he loves his players even more … on and off the court,” she said. “He incorporates us all. He wants us to connect to the younger players. We’re all family, not just the varsity players.”

“It’s all about building them up for the team concept,” said the always-positive Ootsey, who not surprisingly is a life skills teacher for special education students in the Mount Vernon School District. “They don’t get that all the time.”

Enjoying A History Of Hoops Success

Those priorities on character rather than sports success may come as a surprise, however, considering how both men’s early lives were measured by accomplishments on the basketball court.

Ootsey grew up in Little Rock, Ark., and played for Central High, which was famous as the site of integration riots in 1957. After playing two years at a local community college, he followed high school teammate and eventual Western Hall of Famer James Johnson to Bellingham.

As a junior, Ootsey was the sixth man on a Western squad that reached the NAIA national tournament for the first time in 16 years. His senior year, he led the Vikings to within one game (an overtime loss to bitter rival Central) of a second straight trip.

From there he played professionally for Yakima and Omaha in the old Continental Basketball Association and in Brazil, and later played semi-pro ball and in the Pro Summer League in Seattle.

Turner grew up in the Olympia area, playing for Black Hills High School. He finished his career among the WWU career leaders in blocks and rebounds, helping the Vikings reach the NCAA Division II Final Four as a sophomore and earning all-conference honors as a senior. Then it was off to play in the German professional leagues for a year.

He, too, wants his players to appreciate the moment and appreciate the game. And he isn’t just reciting coaching cliches; he is a survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a sometimes-fatal form of cancer.

“Playing (professional basketball) overseas was fun, but I stress (to the players) to enjoy this moment,” said Turner. “It’s great to be paid to play a game, but enjoy high school basketball.”

After giving up professional ball, both men coached youth and AAU teams. For the “veteran” of the two, it was just the start of an impressive coaching resume that includes some well-known coaching mentors.

Ootsey helped coach boys basketball at Mount Vernon High under Vic Wolffis, the former Lynden Christian coach who led the Lyncs to a pair of state titles. Ootsey also helped with the Bellingham Slam semi-pro team under Rob Ridnour, who at Blaine also won a pair of state titles.

When Wolffis quit at Mount Vernon to take over the Squalicum girls program, Ootsey followed and then took the reins this season when Wolffis stepped down.

Before taking over for Scott Larrabee this year, Turner spent a year coaching at the college level as an assistant for his coach at Western, Tony Dominguez.

Keeping The Western Connection Alive

The two former Vikings became friends several years ago while helping out at the Western youth basketball camps, something many former players participate in. The outgoing Ootsey and the laid-back Turner immediately hit it off and became friends even before their coaching journeys intersected in Bellingham.

“When I first met Anye, I could tell he was one of those who had joy in his life,” said Ootsey. “Now we talk all the time. And why not help each other? I’m still learning from the young fellows.”

For Turner, it all comes back to the Western tradition, which he compared to being a family.

They both gave credit to former men’s basketball coach Brad Jackson and former women’s coach and athletic director Lynda Goodrich for building the tradition that carries over to current coaches Dominguez and Carmen Dolfo.

“We always talked a lot about past teams, have alumni events, talk with (former) players,” said Turner. “You felt the history and tradition. I have lots of respect for those guys.”

And now that connection is carrying over not only to the Squalicum and Sehome programs, but also to the Bellingham girls team thanks to coach Michael Russo.

For instance, instead of having separate summer camps, the coaches are talking about having one for all the city schools.

“I don’t care if kids go to Sehome or Bellingham,” said Squalicum’s Ootsey. “I just want them to be more excited about the game.”

That’s something these two former Vikings know all about.

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.

Former Western Washington University basketball players who have been head coaches at Whatcom County high schools.
Stan Bianchi (Blaine)
Mike Elsner (Nooksack Valley)
Mike Franza (Meridian)
Rick Harden (Sehome)
Kay LeMaster (Meridian/Nooksack Valley)
Dan Muscatell (Meridian)
Galen Reimer (Nooksack Valley/Sehome)
John Riseland (Bellingham)
Kent Sherwood (Mount Baker)
Joni Slagle (Blaine/Meridian)
Rob Visser (Lynden)

(A big thank you for these names goes to former Western sports information director Paul Madison and his amazing memory. If there are any we missed, be sure to e-mail us at whatcomhoops @comcast.net.)

Ootsey is always looking out for his Storm players.


Turner gives his Mariners encouragement.


Ootsey lets his Storm players know exactly what he wants.


Turner shows his calm, cool and collected side.


Ootsey and the Squalicum bench react after a big play.


Turner isn’t afraid to tell the officials what he thinks …


… and neither is Ootsey.


Just Another 1A Battle: Meridian Boys Defend Homecourt Against Pioneers

Nothing demonstrates the intensity of the Northwest Conference better than when two teams near the bottom of the standings face off in what both coaches call a “playoff game” … and it lives up to its billing.

That’s what happened Monday night when the Meridian boys used their defense pressure to hold off visiting Nooksack Valley, 68-54, in a scrappy contest reminiscent of the old Whatcom County League rivalries.

“You throw the records out the door,” said Meridian coach Shane Stacy. “You know you’re going to do battle.”

And this was just another battle in the war that will determine which three of the four 1A teams advance to the Northwest District tournament in three weeks.

Meridian (7-8 overall), Nooksack Valley (5-9) and Mount Baker (5-10 after Monday’s upset of Ferndale) are all tied at 1-7 in conference play with five league games left for each.

Be sure to check out more pictures on the Whatcom Hoops Facebook page, and please like it and share it with the basketball fans in your life.
“This was an important game,” said Nooksack Valley coach Rich Skillman. “But it doesn’t mean we’re done. It’s just the little thing we’ve got to improve on. We’re young and it’s part of learning and growing.”
On Monday, the Trojans broke away in the second quarter, building up a double-digit lead thanks to a couple of 3-pointers from Jordan Veenstra, who finished with four 3-pointers in the game.
“It was a rivalry game, and the coach said we’ve got to win it,” said Veenstra, who led the team with 16 points. “And I like the pressure, being in that moment.”
After that, the Trojans’ pressing defense took over, helping Meridian hold off each of the Pioneers’ comeback attempts. Veenstra said the press was something new this season, and Stacy said the strategy fits his athletic squad.
“We wanted our offense to come from our defense,” said the coach. “These guys like to get out and run. It was a nice step for us, but it’s far from over.”
But it was a step, and Meridian junior Ryan Johnson said the Trojans understood the importance of it.
“Coach kept saying we need to win this if we want to keep going,” said Johnson, who had 15 points. “It feels good because we gave it our all. But now our focus is on Baker and Lynden Christian.”
Meridian also got 11 points off the bench from junior Joe Plagerman and 10 points from sophomore Ethan Brooks.
Senior Tyler Rawls had a game-high 17 for Nooksack Valley, with junior Cole Eldridge adding 12 and sophomore Cody Coppinger adding 10.
For the Northwest Conference standings, schedule, all the scores and a look at what’s happening around the league, check out www.nwcathletics.com.


Meridian’s Jackson Short and Nooksack’s Cole Eldridge look for a rebound.


Nooksack Valley’s Carson Linville (32) and Meridian’s Ethan Brooks (42) try to find the loose ball.


Cole Eldridge goes up for two of his 10 points.


Meridian junior Ryan Johnson looks for an opening in the Nooksack defense.


Cody Coppinger prepares to drive against Meridian’s Jackson Short.


Nooksack’s Tyler Rawls gets a helping hand from teammate Cody Coppinger and Meridian’s Jordan Veenstra.


Meridian coach Shane Stacy encourages his teammate as they come off the floor.


Coach Rich Skillman makes sure his Pioneers know what play to run.


Nooksack’s Tyler Rawls and Meridian’s Jordan Veenstra watch the ball go out of bounds.


Meridian’s Ryan Johnson gets ready to go up for a rebound.

Squalicum Seniors Lloyd And Martin Lead Young Storm Squad By Example

Spencer Lloyd and Noah Martin have taken very different paths in their athletic careers, yet the two friends since kindergarten find themselves in the same place: the only seniors on the young Squalicum boys basketball team.

Lloyd, Martin and the Storm had their hands full Monday night when the visiting Anacortes Seahawks knocked down 13 3-pointers to hand Squalicum a 66-53 loss. Devante Powell led the Storm (3-9 overall, 2-4 in Northwest Conference play) with 12 points, and Lloyd and Dedrick Mitchell added 9 points each.

In a way, the game was a microcosm of Squalicum’s season. The taller and more talented Seahawks jumped out to a big lead, but the gritty Storm fought back in the fourth-quarter to cut the lead to single digits only to succumb to free throws at the end.

“The effort was there,” said Squalicum coach Dave Dickson. “They are good guys who work hard. You can’t ask for more from them, except maybe a couple more wins. I really like coaching these guys.”

If leadership determines a team’s culture, then Lloyd and Martin have shown what it takes to be leaders, although in very different ways.

Lloyd is a three-sport standout, whose toughness made him one of the top football players in the county. At 5-foot-11, he uses his strength to battle under the boards with the big boys. And like any good quarterback, his leadership is vocal.

Martin only plays hoops, and after not playing much his sophomore year, he was ready to quit. But despite being only 5-foot-9, his quickness and aggressive defense earned him a spot with Lloyd in the starting lineup. For Martin, his quiet leadership is by example.

“He is an example of perseverance,” said Dickson of Martin, who barely saw playing time on the varsity as a junior. “He’s never the star. But he’s made himself into a valuable member of the team.

“Both these seniors know the value of our culture. They point the way for the other guys, and help them understand that this is bigger than just basketball.”

While Lloyd and Martin may never have the opportunity to make the playoffs, they understand that a winning culture means sacrificing for the team. That means seniors accepting their roles while more talented youngsters like juniors Devante Powell and Mitchell, and improving 6-foot-6 sophomore Leland Zender get the spotlight.

Having seen success in leading the Storm to the playoffs in football, Lloyd knows the importance of winning. But he echoed his coach’s priorities.

“It’s not all about winning,” said Lloyd. “We’re a tight-knit group. I love being with these guys. We’re getting better. We (the seniors) just want to set the culture for next year.”

Martin agreed. “If we don’t win a game, we’re not going to cry. We like each other. I’m just happy to be playing and having fun.”

But having fun playing on varsity didn’t come easy for Martin. “I had to work hard,” he said of making the varsity his senior year. “I wasn’t sure I’d make it. It just goes to show anybody can.”

Well, anybody can … if they are willing — like Squalicum seniors Spencer Lloyd and Noah Martin — to work hard for the team’s success, not their own.

Squalicum starters get ready to start the game.
Spencer Lloyd battles inside with the big boys.
The Storm’s Devante Powell has his eyes on another steal.
Lincoln Hofer gets ready to launch a 3-pointer.
Sophomore Leland Zender takes on two Seahawks for a rebound.
Reed Richardson takes off downcourt on a fastbreak.
Point guard Dedrick Mitchell looks for an open teammate.
The Storm cheer squad cheers up a storm.
Leland Zender (left) and Ethan Newman await a free throw attempt.
Brandon Cash fires up a jumper for Squalicum.
Devante Powell gets ready to sink a free throw.
Brandon Gimse is up in arms for Squalicum.
Wyatt Murphy-Kangas hustles downcourt on another Storm break.
Dedrick Mitchell (left) and Spencer Lloyd are ready to go after a miss.
Coach Dave Dickson points out what he wants done.