Youth will be served, the saying goes, but it sure wasn’t Monday night, Dec. 19, as the veteran Sehome Mariners swept the youthful Bellingham Bayhawks, 85-57, in the boys game and 53-30 in the girls game at the annual BellingHome doubleheader at Bellingham High.
The victory kept the unbeaten Sehome boys (8-0 overall and 5-0 in the Northwest Conference) atop the NWC standings, while Bellingham fell to 3-3 overall and 2-3 in league.
The Sehome girls, meanwhile, raised their record to 5-1 overall and 4-1 in league, while the Bayhawks dropped to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in NWC play.
Bellingham did not go without a victory, however. The Bayhawks won the coveted BellingHome Battle spirit trophy as both schools’ fans and cheer staffs were loud and supportive all night long.
With 10 seniors on their 13-man roster almost all of whom were part of Sehome’s state tournament team last year, the Mariners definitely had the edge in experience. It showed from the start as the Mariners’ quick-handed press helped them run out to a 24-12 first-quarter lead.
“They came to play tonight,” first-year coach Brad Jackson said of his Mariners. “It’s fun because it’s a rivalry game, but we told them you never know (in rivalry games). You’ve got to be ready to go. And our defense …. they went after it.”
While the Bayhawks played Sehome even in the second period and even outscored the Mariners in the final quarter, a 28-point third quarter by the Mariners ended any chance of an upset.
Grey Garrison, a 6-foot-7 post, proved to be the toughest matchup for the shorter Bayhawks, scoring a game-high 23 points, which included a half dozen or so slam dunks. Fellow seniors Mat Storms and Grant Kepley added 19 and 14 points, respectively, and junior Braddock Duckworth came off the bench to score 18 points.
Garrison acknowledged that after last year’s taste of the state tournament, the Mariners had higher goals — actually the highest goal.
“We want to win the state championship,” said Garrison. But he was quick to add, “But it is fun to get a win against your city rival.”
While Sehome barely had enough room on the bench for all its seniors, the Bayhawks have only one. Underclassmen led them again Monday with junior Ian O’Roarty hitting four 3s and scoring 12 points, sophomore Kincade VanHouten collecting 11 points, and junior Wyatt Stephan getting 9 points.
“They deserve all the credit in the world,” Bellingham coach Brad McKay said of the Mariners. “They did a good job taking away our stuff. That showed our youth. But the good thing is that a lot of ours are going to be around another year.”
Stephan, Bellingham’s most veteran varsity player, put it in perspective.
“You can tell they (the Mariners) have played more important games in front of bigger crowds,” he said. “But we’re a young team, and we’ll have more big games ahead of us.”
The Bayhawks are in action again Wednesday, when they host Meadowdale in a 6 p.m. contest. The Mariners play Tuesday at Cedar Park Christian (Bothell) at 7 p.m. Both games are weather permitting, of course.
Sehome 85, Bellingham 57
Sehome 24 20 28 13—85
Bellingham 12 18 12 15—57
Sehome: Lawrence 3, Daheim, Garrison 23, McKay, Duckworth 18, Storms 19, Neff, Swanson, Funk, Dominguez 6, Kepley 14, Eisses 2.
Bellingham: Tolle 5, Brethauer 6, Van Hofwegen, Craig 2, Stephan 9, O’Roarty 12, Van Houten 11, Carpenter, Stone 2, Wienkers 5, Togage 5.
In the nightcap, the Sehome girls used a similar formula for success as their boys, jumping out to a quick double-digit lead thanks to an aggressive, pressing defense that held the Bayhawks to only eight points in the first half.
“On defense, we were tough,” said first-year Sehome coach Kim Stensgar. “Especially the starting five at the beginning of the game. They did an awesome job pressing the ball.”
The Mariners only graduated two seniors from last year’s squad that just missed reaching the state tournament and return a veteran group of mostly juniors that expect to be a force come playoff time.
On Monday, it was junior point guard Madi Cooper who had the hot hand with 24 points. Junior Natalie Brewer added 8 points, junior Kylie Watson had 7, and senior Madison Hogan had 6.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well tonight, but we are so close,” said Stensgar. “If all cylinders are firing, we’ll bust out.”
Cooper praised her teammates — and the Sehome fans — for the energy that ignited the Mariners on Monday night. And like her male counterparts, she was excited to see how far the Mariners could go this season.
“Our goal is to make it to state,” she said. “But we want to take it one game at a time.”
For the Bayhawks, who have five freshman on varsity and only one senior and one junior, reaching the state tournament may be a dream — for now.
“We have a young team,” said junior Genevieve Blum, who led the Bayhawks with 12 points. “Our goal is to learn to work together especially for next year.”
While not happy with the outcome — “We looked like a JV team the first half,” said Bellingham coach James Wolverton — he saw a lot of positives in his team, which is already close to matching last year’s win total.
“We have great girls who want to play,” he said. “Tonight was an opportunity to grow. It will be really fun when we not only win the spirit award but win the game (against Sehome).”
The Sehome girls’ next game is Wednesday at Lake Stevens at 6 p.m., weather permitting. The Bellingham girls are off until Dec. 30, when they host Marysville-Getchell at 3:45 p.m.
Sehome 53, Bellingham 30
Sehome 15 13 12 13—53
Bellingham 4 4 6 16—30
Sehome: Mad. Cooper 24, Aven 2, Hart 4, Watson 7, McAllister, Stauber, Brewer 8, Gaston, Sargent, Barge 2, Hogan 6.
Bellingham: Morell, Jude 4, Manning, Wolverton 3, Blum 12, Hanks 4, Evans, Lockhart 6, Hudson 1.
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.