Veteran Sehome Girls, Bellingham Boys Win Rivalry Games

Experience once again won out at the seventh annual BellingHome Battle on Monday night, Dec. 18, but the Bellingham and Sehome boys-girls doubleheader couldn’t have had two more different games.

In the opener, the veteran Sehome girls took command early and never let up against the super-young Bayhawks, winning, 63-24. In the nightcap, the veteran Bellingham boys took command early but then had to withstand a wild Mariners’ comeback for a 57-52 victory.

During the games, the packed Sehome gym featured spirit contests between the two student bodies and dance teams, and a combined cheer staff performance. In the end, Bellingham High School took home the spirit trophy.

Whatcom Hoops December-19-2023
Emmy Hart shoots one of her school record eight 3-pointers.

Girls: Hart’s Shooting, Great Defense Give Mariners 63-24 Win 

Finally. After matching her own school record of seven 3-pointers in a game four times during her career, Sehome senior Emmy Hart finally hit that eighth one Monday night in the waning minutes of the Mariners’ victory.

“I didn’t know I was close until the coach told me with about a minute to go,” said Hart, who finished with a game-high 26 points. “I’ve made seven four times. It was cool that there was a big crowd.”

Hart might have known it was going to be her night when she hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter in helping Sehome jump out to a 22-11 lead. She would make two more in the third quarter and her seventh and eighth in final period.

Sehome coach Kim Stensgar, sporting a side-pony for a friendly dress-up competition with the two teams’ coaching staffs, marveled at her shooting guard.

“She’s a pure shooter, “ said Stensgar. “As soon as she hits a couple, you just feed the beast. All 5-foot-2 of her.”

Hart wasn’t the only beast for Sehome, which raised its overall record to 5-1 and its Northwest Conference mark to 4-1.

Eight different Mariners scored with senior Natalie Brewer playing the beast in the third quarter. She made a pair of 3s among her 12 points as Sehome scored 25 points in the period to put the Bayhawks away. Brewer finished with 15 points, and steady senior point guard Madi Cooper added 10 points.

For Bellingham, which fell to 2-6 overall and 0-5 in the NWC, it was rough going against the senior-dominated Mariners. The Bayhawks, who start three sophomores and a freshman and don’t have a senior on their roster, managed 11 points in the first quarter, but only 13 after that.

“We wanted to win, of course,” said Bellingham coach James Wolverton, whose staff  wore bright red hats for the game. “But it was a fun night. We got to enjoy some moments and get the crowd into the game. Sehome’s pretty skilled and tonight they shot pretty well.”

For Bellingham, sophomore Lily Jude had 8 points, sophomore Mary Lockhart had 7 points, and the team’s only junior, Malia Hanks, had 6 points.

For Stensgar, who teaches at Bellingham and knows many of the players, the game was a little bittersweet, which is why she didn’t want to lose sight of the exciting experience for both schools.

“We wanted to win, but I have compassion for them,” she said of the Bayhawks. “But tonight was a blast. We wanted to have our seniors enjoy the moment. You can’t get any better than this.”

Sehome’s next contest is on Wednesday when the Mariners host Lake Stevens in a non-league game. Bellingham is at Ferndale on Friday. 

Sehome 63, Bellingham 24

Bellingham         11       2         7         4—24

Sehome               22       6       25       10—63

Bellingham: Jude 8, Verner, Ask, Manning, Hanks 6, Hall, Jensen 3, Lockhart 7, Evans.

Sehome: Cooper 10, Aven, Hart 26, Gates, Watson 3, Krout 2, Barge, Brewer 15, Gaston 2, Schroeder 3, Reeves 2.

Whatcom Hoops December-19-2023
Wyatt Stephan steps to the line before sealing Bellingham’s win.

Boys: Bellingham Withstands Sehome Rally For 57-52 Victory

It was only appropriate that Wyatt Stephan was at the line with six seconds remaining and a chance to finally clinch a victory for Bellingham over rival Sehome. And the senior guard didn’t miss his chance or his free throws, sinking both to ice the Bayhawks’ win.

“I’m over the moon,” said Stephan, the Bayhawks’ floor leader who hadn’t beaten the Mariners in his four-year career. “It feels so good to win. Our seniors stepped up and our young guys stepped up, too.”

The Bayhawks, who are now 5-1 overall and 4-1 in NWC play, needed everyone to step up to get past Sehome.

Some hot outside shooting helped Bellingham build a double-digit lead and when juniors Kincade VanHouten and Gabe Van Hofwegen each hit 3-pointers — the seventh and eighth of the night for the Bayhawks — in the final minute of the third period, Bellingham had a comfortable 15-point lead going into the fourth quarter.

Make that not so comfortable. Bellingham’s shooting suddenly went cold as the Bayhawks went scoreless for the first six minutes of the final period. And Sehome was warming up as the Mariners made another of their patented fourth-quarter runs.

Senior center Braddock Duckworth, one of only three varsity returnees for Sehome, began to dominate inside, scoring eight points in the fourth quarter as the Mariners cut the margin all the way down to 49-45.

Stephan hit a turnaround with 1:50 left, but Duckworth countered with two free throws and an inside bucket, and suddenly it was 51-49 and the Sehome side was going bonkers. But the Bayhawks kept their cool as first VanHouten and then Van Hofwegen each hit a pair of free throws in the final 22 seconds. 

Yet it still wasn’t over. Sehome freshman Quincy Tanovan tossed in a 30-footer with seven seconds left to make it a one-possession game again. But Sehome was forced to foul and, unfortunately for the Mariners, they fouled Stephan, who sank both to wrap up the win.

“It’s a Bellingham-Sehome game,” said Bellingham coach Brad McKay as if that explained all the craziness. “We had them on the ropes, but it wasn’t easy. It’s never easy. I’m really happy we had that 15-point lead.”

Stephan would finish with 19 points and three 3-pointers. Fellow senior Elias Togagae was a force underneath with 13 points. Van Hofwegen added 10 points and VanHouten had 9 for the Bayhawks.

“They had a lot of belief that this could be our year,” McKay said of his veteran squad. “We had a poor fourth quarter, but we put ourselves in a good position (with a 15-point lead). And at the end we had the right guys on the floor.”

While their rally came up short, the Mariners had a lot to be pleased about, said their coach.

“I am really proud of the effort,” said Sehome coach Brad Jackson, whose squad fell to 4-3 overall and 3-2 in the NWC. “It showed their heart and speaks to the character of these guys. We don’t like to lose, but we’ve got a lot of young guys, and we’ll keep getting better and better.”

Duckworth finished with 18 points, eight of them in the Mariners’ fourth-quarter comeback. Sophomore Nolan Wright and Tanovan had 11 points each with the latter hitting three of Sehome’s four 3-pointers. Senior Austin McKay added 8 points.

Both teams showed their focus at the free throw line. Despite all the extracurricular distractions and the boisterous student sections, the Bayhawks made 9 of 12 throws and the Mariners sank an impressive 12 of 13.

Sehome is back in action on Tuesday when the Mariners host Cedar Park Christian (Bothell) in a non-league game. Bellingham’s next game is also a non-league contest at Meadowdale on Wednesday.

Bellingham 57, Sehome 52

Bellingham         17       15       17         8—57

Sehome               11       15         8       18—52

Bellingham: Stephan 19, Van Hofwegen 10, Craig, Wienkers 6, Togagae 13, VanHouten 9, Harward.

Sehome: Wright 11, McLin, Fleming, McKay 8, B. Duckworth 18, Evans, Tanovan 11, C. Duckworth, Turrell 4.

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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