Four Whatcom County boys basketball teams sit atop the standings with Lynden Christian, Lynden, Ferndale and Sehome among the six undefeated teams in the Northwest Conference after the first week of play.
As perennial state powers, the Lyncs and Lions are no surprise, winning all six of their games by at least 19 points.
But the most impressive run may have been by the Golden Eagles, who won their first three games without star junior Jazen Guillory, who is out for the season because of a knee injury.
GAME OF THE WEEK
The Meridian-Mount Baker contest on Monday had it all, from a big comeback to a record-tying performance to an exciting 52-point final period. The host Trojans had a 21-point halftime lead thanks to a balanced scoring attack led by Trey Naidu. But Meridian needed every point to hold on for a 79-78 win that saw a Mounties’ comeback that included eight fourth-quarter 3-pointers. Senior guard Braedan Hart tied a Mount Baker record with eight 3-pointers, including a bank shot with three seconds left that left the Mounties one point short.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Mount Baker’s Braedan Hart not only tied the school record with eight 3-pointers in the Mounties’ loss to Meridian, but he finished with a game-high 30 points. The senior guard added 22 points against Lynden Christian two days later. … Junior Mark Schlichting had 26 points, including seven 3-pointers, and sophomore Isaiah Carlson added 19 to lead Ferndale over Squalicum. … Senior Cody Coppinger, Nooksack Valley’s only returning player, had 25 points in the Pioneers’ loss to Blaine. … Senior Trey Naidu led Meridian with 23 points in the Trojans’ victory over Mount Baker. … Squalicum junior Reed Richardson had 22 points against Ferndale, 18 against Mount Vernon and followed that with 23 points against Anacortes. … Junior Andrew Hommes helped Lynden Christian to three wins, scoring 19 against Blaine, 17 against Mount Baker, and 21 against Nooksack Valley. … Mount Baker senior Garrett Smith had 21 points in the Mounties win over Burlington-Edison. … Senior Clay Kochuten had 20 points and 9 rebounds in Lynden’s season-opening win over Nooksack Valley.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK
Lynden Christian and first-year coach Tim Zylstra opened their season with three dominating victories. The Lyncs topped visiting Blaine, 96-43, on Monday with Andrew Hommes and sophomore Griffin Dykstra collecting 19 points each, junior Crew Bosman notching 16, and senior Logan Dykstra having 13. Five Lyncs were in double figures in the 82-42 road win over Mount Baker on Wednesday. Hommes had 17, Logan Dykstra and junior Jamison Hintz had 14, Bosman had 11, and sophomore Tyler Sipma had 10. In the 92-46 home win over Nooksack Valley on Saturday, Hommes had 21 points, Bosman had 16, Sipma had 14, Logan Dykstra had 13, Griffin Dykstra had 12, including three 3-pointers, Sipma had 12, and senior Cole Moorlag had 9.
Lynden continued where it left off last year with three solid victories over Nooksack Valley on Monday, 78-33; over Sedro-Woolley on Wednesday, 57-35; and over Bellingham on Friday, 69-50. In addition to Kochuten’s 20 points, freshman Anthony Canales had 17 points, sophomore Coston Parcher had 12 and junior Max Moore had 9 points and 5 assists in the Lions’ win over the Pioneers. The Lions held Sedro-Woolley to two first-quarter points in taking the big win. Kochuten and fellow senior Liam Hanenburg had 18 points each, and Hanenburg added 10 rebounds. Point guard Parcher did not have any turnovers and handed out a team-high 5 assists. Against the Red Raiders, Hanenburg and junior Jordan Medcalf had 15 points each with Medcalf adding a pair of dunks.
Ferndale opened the season with three victories, defeating Squalicum on the road on Monday, 64-54; Bellingham at home on Wednesday, 66-48; and Oak Harbor on the road on Friday, 58-53. Against Squalicum, Ferndale broke open a defensive struggle with a 27-5 third period. In addition to Mark Schlichting’s 26 points and Isaiah Carlson’s 19, junior Luke Wells added 10 points. Against Bellingham, junior Jesse Sapp had 17 points, Carlson had 16, and Wells had 11. The Golden Eagles shut out Oak Harbor in the third period to build up a 17-point lead and then withstood a fourth-quarter rally for the win. Wells had 15 points, Sapp had 13 points, and junior Sean Morrison and Schlichting had 12 points each.
Sehome started its season with a pair of big wins — 46-28 on the road against cross-town rival Bellingham and 70-52 over Oak Harbor in the Mariners’ home opener. Brothers Gavin and Jake Ortega had 12 and 9 points, respectively, in the victory over Bellingham and helped the Mariners outbound the Red Raiders by 20.
Meridian had the NWC’s busiest week, winning its first three games — 79-78 over Mount Baker on Monday, 55-42 at South Whidbey on Tuesday, and 68-38 over La Conner on Wednesday — before losing to Mount Vernon, 78-44, on Friday. In the nail-biter against the Mounties, Trey Naidu led the way with 21, fellow senior Wes Kurz had 18 points, and sophomore Hunter Jones added 13 in his varsity debut. In the non-league game against South Whidbey, junior Tucker Harrison and Jones had 11 points each, and senior Ethan Brooks pulled down 7 rebounds. In the non-league contest with La Conner, junior Dane Beck had a team-high 13 points, Jones tossed in 12 points, and Brooks had a great all-around game with 8 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists. Against Mount Vernon, Brooks led the Trojans with 9 points, and Kurz had 7 rebounds.
Blaine lost its season opener to Lynden Christian on Monday, 96-43, but then notched victories against Nooksack Valley on Wednesday, 68-55, and Sedro-Woolley on Saturday, 61-36. Sophomore Carson Lehnert hit four 3-pointers and had 15 points to lead the Borderites over the Pioneers. Juniors Scott Baldwin and Cole Thomas added 12 and 10 points, respectively. Against the Cubs, senior Josh Russ led the balanced Borderite attack with 17 points, Baldwin had 11, Thomas 10, and Lehnert 9, all on 3-pointers. But it was the defense, led by junior Jaxson Kortlever, that helped Blaine stymie Sedro-Woolley.
Mount Baker evened its season record, losing 79-78 to Meridian on Monday and 82-42 to Lynden Christian on Wednesday before collecting a big 47-44 win at Burlington-Edison on Friday. In addition to Hart’s big game, senior Mason Jacoby had 15 points against Meridian and then added 11 against the Lyncs as only four Mounties managed to score. In the win over the Tigers, senior Garrett Smith finished with a game-high 21 points as the Mounties rallied from eight down in the fourth quarter. Hart added another 13, giving him 65 points for the week.
Lummi Nation had both of its games canceled last week as the Lummi Nation community mourned the recent passing of several members.
Nooksack Valley dropped its three games — to Lynden on Monday, 78-33; to Blaine on Wednesday, 68-55; and to Lynden Christian on Saturday, 92-46, with the Pioneers’ Friday contest with Lummi Nation canceled. Against the Lions, Cody Coppinger had 16 points to lead the Pioneers. In addition to Coppinger’s 25 points against the Borderites, junior Dawson Kimball had 13 points and sophomore Ayden Roper added 10. Against the Lyncs, Kimball had 10 points, Coppinger 9, and Roper 8.
Bellingham lost its first three games to Sehome on Monday, 46-28; to Ferndale on Wednesday, 66-48; and to Lynden on Friday, 69-50. In the loss to cross-town rival Sehome, senior Manny DePalma had 9 points to lead the Raiders, who struggled offensively shooting only 19 percent from the field. Sophomore Henry Sheldrup led the Red Raiders against Ferndale with 11 points, and junior Aidan Bartlett added 9 points. Against Lynden, DePalma had 14 points and fellow senior Trevor Johnson had 10 points.
Squalicum dropped all three of its games to start out the season, falling to Ferndale on Monday, 64-54; to Mount Vernon on Wednesday, 41-31; and to Anacortes on Friday, 70-58. Against Ferndale, the Storm put together a 26-point fourth quarter but couldn’t overcome an early deficit. Reed Richardson led the way with 22 points, and junior Kai Posey had 9 points. Against Mount Vernon, Richardson had 18 points but no other Storm could score more than five points. The Storm had their biggest offensive day against the Seahawks with Richardson scoring 23, senior Leland Zender collecting 14 points, and senior Mason Binning tossing in 10 points.
NORTHWEST CONFERENCE (unofficial)
In a game pitting two of the more exciting squads in the Northwest Conference, Meridian travels to Ferndale on Saturday. Not only are the Trojans and Golden Eagles near the top of the league standings, but they both feature fast-pace and high-scoring offenses and in-your-face pressure defenses.
Tuesday, May 25: Bellingham at Blaine, Lynden Christian at Burlington-Edison, Squalicum at Sehome, Meridian at Anacortes, Mount Baker at Mount Vernon, Sedro-Woolley at Nooksack Valley, Oak Harbor at Lynden
Thursday, May 27: Sehome at Meridian, Anacortes at Mount Baker, Blaine at Oak Harbor, Nooksack Valley at Bellingham, Ferndale at Sedro-Woolley, Mount Vernon Christian at Lummi Nation
Friday, May 28: Lynden at Port Angeles
Saturday, May 29: Mount Baker at Sehome, Lynden Christian at Mount Vernon, Squalicum at Lynden, Meridian at Ferndale, Bellingham at Sedro-Woolley, Lummi Nation at Tulalip Heritage
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.