The last time the Whatcom County high schools got together for a post-season boys basketball tournament to determine the county champion was 1940 … and, unfortunately, in this crazy and chaotic COVID time, we won’t be having one this year either.
BUT … if we did, depending on the format, we might have ended up with the final games being just what will be happening this coming week.
Going into the final week of the season — and with no local playoffs or state-sanctioned tournaments happening the season ends Saturday — the top county teams in the Northwest Conference are Lynden (9-0), Lynden Christian (9-0), Ferndale (7-3) and Sehome and Blaine (both 6-4).
If, for this purpose only, LC was seeded #1, then the first round of a four-team Whatcom County tournament would look like this: LC vs. either Sehome or Blaine and Lynden vs. Ferndale.
Well, the Lyncs have defeated both the Mariners and the Borderites this season. But guess who is playing Monday night: our other first-round game, Lynden and Ferndale. It’s at Lynden’s Jake Maberry Gym and promises to be an exciting contest.
Now, if the Lions were to beat the Golden Eagles — again, just for the purposes of this exercise — that would put Lynden and LC in the county finals. And guess who is playing Wednesday night at Lynden? Yup, the Lions and the Lyncs.
Of course, there is no Whatcom County tournament. There is no “official” Northwest Conference champion. And — big sigh — there are no district or state tournaments for all our teams to show their talents against squads from around the state.
So enjoy the final week as it is. Root for your favorite team. Follow all the big games on WhatcomHoops.com. And remember: the start of the 2021-22 season is only five months away.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Nooksack Valley used a 24-point second quarter to take control against Oak Harbor, but then needed to sink 7 of 9 free throws in the fourth quarter to hold off the Wildcats on Thursday, 71-69. The Pioneers’ senior standout, Cody Coppinger, had 20 points, including eight in the critical final period. But Nooksack Valley survived only when a three-quarters-length Oak Harbor shot at the buzzer rimmed out.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Senior Jaie Leighton averaged 19 points in Lummi Nation’s four games this week, highlighted by a 31-point performance against Cedar Park Christian (Lynnwood). … Meridian sophomore Hunter Jones had his breakout game with 26 points against Bellingham and ended his week with 24 points in a non-conference contest against Lummi Nation. … Blaine senior Josh Russ had 23 points in the Borderites’ last-second loss to Burlington-Edison and followed that with 28 points against Mount Vernon. … Bellingham senior Manny DePalma hit five 3-pointers and scored 20 points against Meridian. … Nooksack Valley senior Cody Coppinger had 20 points against Oak Harbor. … Sophomore Isaiah Carlson had 20 points, and junior Mark Schlichting had 18 points on six 3-pointers to lead Ferndale over Sehome. … Lynden junior Jordan Medcalf had 19 points against King’s. … Squalicum junior Reed Richardson had 19 points and four 3-pointers in the Storm’s victory over Oak Harbor.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK
Lummi Nation (11-1) wrapped up its season with four victories over Cedar Park Christian (Lynnwood) on Monday, 55-31; Tulalip Heritage on Wednesday, 68-54; Mount Vernon Christian on Friday, 68-54; and Meridian on Saturday, 59-39. Senior Jaie Leighton scored as many as the entire Cedar Park Christian team with a game-high 31 points, including three 3-pointers, and senior William Hetland and junior Duncan Toby added 6 points each. Against Tulalip Heritage, junior Tyran Lane led the Blackhawks with 17 points, Leighton had 14 points, Hetland had three 3s and was 4-for-4 from the line for 13 points, and Toby had 9 points and two 3s. Against Mount Vernon Christian, the Blackhawks used a 19-point fourth quarter to break open a two-point game. Lane had 22 points, Leighton had 18, Toby had 10, and Hetland and sophomore Richard Wilson had 7 each. Against a short-handed Meridian squad, Lummi Nation had a big second half to finish their season with a win. Hetland had a team-high 14 points, including four 3-pointers; Leighton had 13 points and 7 rebounds; Lane scored all 12 of his points in the fourth period and pulled down 9 rebounds; Richard Wilson had 11 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists; and junior Duncan Toby had 8 assists.
Squalicum ran its winning streak to five games by beating Bellingham on Tuesday, 58-44, and overpowering Oak Harbor on Wednesday, 57-41. Against the Red Raiders, the Storm only managed one field goal in the fourth quarter but hit 9 of 10 free throws to hold off Bellingham. Senior Mason Binning led a balanced scoring attack with 12 points. Junior Trevor Keeley had 10 points, junior Kai Posey had 9, junior Reed Richardson had 8, and seniors Leland Zender and Aiden Aune had 7 each. Richardson had the big game against Oak Harbor with 19 points and four 3-pointers. Posey added 10 points, and Aune had 7.
Mount Baker knocked off Nooksack Valley on Tuesday, 65-37, and stopped Sedro-Woolley on Thursday, 71-50. Mount Baker’s double-teaming defense held Nooksack star Cody Coppinger to 5 points as the Mounties beat the Pioneers for the second time this season. Senior Mason Jacoby led the way on offense with 18 points and 8 rebounds, while fellow senior Garrett Smith had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore Landon Smith had 10 points and senior Aidan Corning added 8. Against the Cubs, Smith and senior Braedan Hart had 17 points with Garrett Smith also grabbing 10 rebounds, and Hart pulling down 6 boards and hitting a couple of 3-pointers. Jacoby added 11 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists; Corning had 8 points and 6 rebounds; and Landon Smith had 9 points and 5 rebounds.
Meridian defeated Sedro-Woolley on Tuesday, 62-57, and Bellingham on Thursday, 78-57, and lost a non-conference game at Lummi Nation on Saturday, 59-39. Meridian held Sedro-Woolley to five fourth-quarter points and used a balanced scoring attack to rally in the final period for the win. Senior Ethan Brooks had 15 points, sophomore Hunter Jones had 13, senior Trey Naidu had 10, senior Eli Hayrynen had 9, and junior Daniel Short had 8. The Trojans broke up a close game against the Red Raiders with 24 points in the final period. Jones led Meridian with 26 points, including three 3-pointers. Brooks had 17 points, including another three 3s, and Naidu had 16 points. Against Lummi Nation and with their seniors unavailable to play, the Trojans kept pace for a half before losing. Hunter finished with 24 points, but no other Trojan scored more than four points.
Ferndale only had one game last week, stopping Sehome on Thursday, 66-53. Trailing early in the third quarter, the Golden Eagles hit six 3-pointers in the period, five of them by junior Mark Schlichting, to take control and hold off the Mariners. Sophomore Isaiah Carlson hit a pair of 3s in the game and finished with a game-high 20 points, and Schlichting ended up with 18 points, all on 3-pointers. Junior Luke Wells added 13 points for the Golden Eagles.
Lynden lost for only the second time when the Lions fell to defending Class 1A state champion King’s on Monday, 61-54. They bounced back to beat Mount Vernon Tuesday, 51-29, and Anacortes on Thursday, 73-30. With the game against King’s tied at 42 after three quarters, the Knights put together a 19-point fourth quarter to take the win. Junior Jordan Medcalf led the Lions with 19 points, half of their four 3-pointers and 4 assists. Senior Koby Whitman had 13 points, senior Liam Hanenburg had 10 points and 7 rebounds, and senior Clay Kochuten had 7 points and 7 rebounds. Against the Bulldogs, the Lynden defense only gave up five first-half points to make it a rout early. Medcalf had 16 points and a pair of 3-pointers, Hanenburg had 10 points, and Kochuten had 9. Against the Seahawks, the Lions shot 68 percent from the field and won the rebound war, 38-13. Freshman Anthony Canales had his first career double-double with game-highs of 14 points and 10 rebounds, Medcalf added 14 points and 5 assists, and sophomore Coston Parcher had 9 points and 3 assists.
Nooksack Valley lost to Mount Baker on Tuesday, 65-37, and beat Oak Harbor on Thursday, 71-69. Against the Mounties, Nooksack came out cold, making only 19 percent from the field. Sophomore Ayden Roper had 10 points, a pair of 3-pointers and 7 rebounds, but was the only Pioneer to score more than five points. Against the Wildcats, Nooksack had its best offensive game of the season (see “game of the week” above). Senior Cody Coppinger led the way with 20 points, including 14 in the second half, and Roper and junior Dawson Kimball added 15 points each. Freshman Jorgen Vigre had two 3-pointers as Nooksack Valley pulled away with a 19-point third quarter.
Lynden Christian stopped Sehome on Tuesday, 69-40, but had its nine-game winning streak broken with a loss to Seattle Academy on Saturday, 80-62. On Tuesday, the LC defense limited the Mariners to only 15 points in the first half. Senior Cole Moorlag and junior Andrew Hommes had 14 points each to lead the Lyncs. Senior Logan Dykstra added 11 points, and sophomores Tyler Sipma and Griffin Dykstra had 8 each. On the road against Seattle Academy, the Lyncs gave up their highest point total of the season. Logan Dykstra led LC with 20 points and a pair of 3-pointers, Hommes had 18 points, Sipma added 9, and junior Crew Bosman had 7.
Sehome lost to Lynden Christian on Tuesday, 69-40, and to Ferndale on Thursday, 66-53. Against the Lyncs, the Mariners couldn’t get their offense rolling. Senior Matt Harris had 11 points but no other Mariners had more than six. Against the Golden Eagles, Sehome’s 8-0 run early in the second half gave them the lead, but a barrage of Ferndale bombs left the Mariners in a hole they couldn’t dig out of. Senior Micah Daheim led Sehome with 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Seniors Elliott Tanovan and Jake Ortega added 15 and 10 points, respectively.
Blaine lost to Burlington-Edison on Tuesday, 63-61, and to Mount Vernon on Thursday, 75-63. Tuesday’s loss was another heart-breaker for the Borderites as the Tigers’ Isaac Donovan hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Senior Josh Russ led Blaine with 23 points, and junior Scott Baldwin had 17 points. Against the Bulldogs, Russ had another great game with 28 points, including three 3s and 12 points in the final period. Baldwin added 12 points, and sophomore Carson Lehnert had a pair of 3-pointers and 8 points.
Bellingham lost to Squalicum on Tuesday, 58-44, and to Meridian on Thursday, 78-57. Against the Storm, senior Trevor Johnson had 14 points, senior Marcus McColl and freshman Wyatt Stephan had 8 points each with Stephan tossing in a pair of 3-pointers, and freshman Ian O’Roarty added 7 points. Against the Trojans, senior Manny DePalma knocked down five 3-pointers good for 20 points. Johnson had 16 point and junior Thomas Mathew had 7.
NORTHWEST CONFERENCE (unofficial)
The final week of the season offers us one of the best matchups of the season when Lynden Christian travels across town to face Lynden at Jake Maberry Gym on Wednesday night. The two teams are unbeaten in Northwest Conference play and the winner will get to claim the “unofficial” league championship and the city’s bragging rights for another year.
Monday, June 14: Squalicum at Lynden Christian, Ferndale at Lynden, Anacortes at Nooksack Valley, Mount Baker at Oak Harbor, Burlington-Edison at Bellingham
Wednesday, June 16: Lynden Christian at Lynden, Meridian at Squalicum, Blaine at Ferndale, Mount Baker at Bellingham, Sehome at Nooksack Valley
Friday, June 18: Lynden at Blaine, Meridian at Lynden Christian, Squalicum at Mount Baker, Nooksack Valley at Ferndale, Bellingham at Anacortes, Sehome at Sedro-Woolley
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.