The Northwest Conference and Northwest 1B League have one more week to go in their regular seasons, and while the playoff seeding has begun to shake out after some big games last week, there’s still much to be decided.
When the Class 2A playoffs tip off on Feb. 9, all 10 teams in the District 1 will qualify for the double-elimination district tournament with seeds 7 through 10 having play-in games.
Lynden and Sehome are guaranteed two of the top three spots, although the all-important order might not be determined until the final league game — Saturday night’s Lynden-LC showdown. Meanwhile, Squalicum and Bellingham are basically tied with Burlington-Edison for the sixth spot, which would mean avoiding the loser-out play-in round.
The Class 1A’s new district format will have Lynden Christian and Blaine in the semifinals. Meridian has the edge over Nooksack Valley for the third seed, which would also earn the Trojans a semifinal spot with the Pioneers having to play Mount Baker in a play-in game on Feb. 6.
With final seeding still to be determined in the Class 1B district tournament, Lummi Nation appears to be a shoo-in for a top-four spot and a quarterfinal berth on Feb. 4.
Unfortunately, Ferndale won’t be finishing among the top 12 of the Class 3A district teams and will have its season end this week.
For a look back at Week 9 for our Whatcom girls teams, check out Whatcom Hoops girls recap.
Here are the boys highlights from Week 9.
GAMES OF THE WEEK
It was another great week of close games, especially among the NWC leaders. Mount Vernon nipped Blaine in Monday’s overtime shootout and Lynden came from way back to beat Anacortes on Wednesday in a thriller with first place on the line.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Lummi Nation freshman Jerome Toby had 28 points on Monday, and senior Richard Wilson had 23 on Saturday. … Blaine seniors Matt Russ had 27 points, Ethan Koreski had 17 and Lucas Smith had 15 on Monday, and Smith came back with 27 and Russ with 20 on Saturday. … Lynden junior Anthony Canales had 27 points on Wednesday, 23 on Friday and 20 on Saturday, and senior Coston Parcher had 22 on Wednesday and sophomore Brant Heppner had 24 on Saturday for the Lions. … Lynden Christian junior Jeremiah Wright had 18 points on Monday and 25 points on Thursday, and senior Tyler Sipma had 23 points on Thursday and 25 points on Saturday. … Sehome seniors Grant Kepley and Grey Garrison had 18 points each and senior Mat Storms added 16 on Monday, and Kepley and Garrison came back with 22 and 20 points, respectively, on Friday. … Nooksack Valley sophomore Brady Ackerman had 20 points and senior Bennett DeLange added 18 on Monday. … Sophomore Harmon Wienkers had 18 points for Bellingham on Wednesday and 18 more on Friday. … Meridian senior Hunter Jones and sophomore Talon Jenkins had 17 points each and sophomore Jaeger Fyfe had 15 points on Monday. … Squalicum senior Xander Sledge had 15 points on Tuesday and 15 more on Thursday.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN defeated Lakewood on Tuesday, 71-50; Blaine on Thursday, 70-56; and Ferndale on Saturday, 66-42. On Tuesday, the Lyncs used a 31-point third quarter to turn a four-point halftime lead into a blowout of the Cougars. In the big third period, Wright had eight of his 18 points, junior Dawson Bouma had two 3s and eight of his 13 points, and senior Griffin Dykstra had two 3s and would finish with 12 points. Seniors Sipma and Lane Dykstra added 9 points each. On Thursday, a 25-point second quarter put the Lyncs in control and they held off the Borderites in the key Class 1A clash. Wright and Sipma combined for 48 points with Sipma hitting four 3-pointers and Wright even making a bucket while on his knees. Bouma added 8 points for the Lyncs. On Saturday after giving up 22 first-quarter points, the Lyncs limited the Golden Eagles to 20 points the rest of the way in securing the win. Sipma had 25 points including 10 points and two of his four 3-pointers in LC’s 23-point first quarter. Griffin Dykstra had 13 points and two 3s, and Wright had 12 points.
BELLINGHAM beat Meridian on Wednesday, 56-53, and Mount Baker on Friday, 72-45. On Wednesday, the Bayhawks started slow with a five-point first quarter, took command and built up an eight-point lead going into the final period only to have to hold off the Trojans in the final minute. Wienkers led a balanced Bellingham attack with 18 points and six of the team’s 10 3-pointers; junior Ian O’Roarty had 13 points and three 3s, junior Wyatt Stephan added 12 points, sophomore Kincade Vanhouten had 8 points, and junior Satchel Craig had all five of his points in the crucial final period. On Friday, the Bayhawks came out hot with a 24-point first quarter and never let up. Wienkers had another 18 points and sank four of Bellingham’s 13 3-pointers, O’Roarty had 14 points with 12 points and three 3s coming in the opening-period blitz, senior Grayson Stone had 11 points and three more 3-pointers, and Vanhouten added 10 points.
SEHOME stopped Ferndale on Monday, 65-46, and shocked Lynden on Friday, 72-50. On Monday, the Mariners opened up a 28-point lead after three quarters and coasted past the Golden Eagles. Kepley had a pair of 3-pointers to go along with his 20 points, Garrison had 18 points all in the first three periods, and Storms added 16 points and two 3-pointers. In Friday’s big game at top-ranked Lynden, held the Lions to their lowest point total of the season and scored the most this year against Lynden’s defense. Kepley was the main culprit going 9 of 10 from the field and finishing with 22 points and 6 assists. He got lots of help from Garrison, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds; senior Isaac Lawrence, who had three 3-pointers and 7 rebounds; Storms with 7 of 8 clutch free throws in the second half and 5 assists; and senior Dane Dominguez, who added 7 rebounds and 3 steals.
LUMMI NATION beat La Conner on Monday, 66-41; clobbered Lopez on Tuesday, 77-39; and lost to Grace Academy on Saturday, 56-55. In Monday’s non-league contest, the Blackhawks held the Braves to 13 first-half points and then put the game away with a 39-point second half. Nine Blackhawks got in the scoring column with Toby collecting 28 points and four 3-pointers and junior Tobias Francis making 10 points thanks to three 3s. While the Blackhawks’ scheduled game with Shoreline Christian on Thursday was canceled, they were at Grace Academy on Saturday in a rescheduled game and lost their first league game when the Eagles rallied in the final period. Wilson was the only Blackhawk in double figures with 23, and Toby and senior Payton Scott had 8 points each.
LYNDEN knocked off Anacortes on Wednesday, 78-73; fell to Sehome on Friday, 72-50; and bounced back with a 69-50 beating of Lakewood on Saturday. In Wednesday’s NWC showdown for first place, the Lions rallied from 13 points down to edge the Seahawks with a thrilling finish. Canales led the way with 27 points and 8 rebounds, Parcher had 22 points and 3 assists, senior Cameron Petersen and sophomore Brant Heppner had 10 points each with Heppner adding 7 rebounds, and senior Trey Smiley had 7 rebounds and 3 assists. On Friday, the Lions picked a bad time to have their worst game of the season both offensively and defensively. Canales had 23 points but Parcher was the only other Lion to score more than six points with 8 as Sehome handed Lynden its first league loss and ended the Lions’ 11-game winning streak. In Saturday afternoon’s early game, the Lions roared back from their loss by taming the Cougars on the road. Heppner had 24 and three 3s on 9 of 14 shooting and added 12 rebounds; Canales had 20 points, two 3-pointers, and 5 rebounds; Parcher had 12 points, a pair of 3s, and 5 rebounds; and Smiley had 7 assists.
MERIDIAN knocked off the Northwest School on Monday, 62-46; lost to Bellingham on Wednesday, 56-53; and edged Oak Harbor on Friday, 69-67. On Monday, the Trojans steadily built up a 16-point lead through three quarters and then held off the House in the non-league contest. Jones and Jenkins had 17 points each with Jenkins sinking four 3-pointers, and Fyfe added 15 points. On Wednesday, the Trojans rallied from an eight-point deficit with a 23-point fourth quarter but couldn’t quite catch the Bayhawks. Senior Tyrel Brooks led Meridian with 14 points, Jones had 13 points, and Fyfe and Jenkins added 10 points each.
SQUALICUM overpowered Oak Harbor on Tuesday, 56-47, and lost to Lakewood on Thursday, 58-54. On Tuesday, the Storm rallied from an early deficit and then held off the scrappy Wildcats. Sledge led the way with 15 points, 6 rebounds, and three 3-pointers; senior Ashton Engelhart had 10 points and two more 2s; and junior Peter Albert and senior Dylan Jacobs had 8 points each with Jacobs adding 4 assists. On Thursday, the Storm rallied after falling behind by 10 at halftime but couldn’t quite catch the Cougars despite a 19-point fourth quarter. Sledge once again had 15 points and three 3s; Jacobs had 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists; and senior Nick Watt and Albert had 8 rebounds each.
FERNDALE fell to Sehome on Monday, 65-46, and to Lynden Christian on Saturday, 66-42. On Monday, 11 Golden Eagles scored but none reached double figures as senior Damien Toney led Ferndale with 9 points. On Saturday, the Golden Eagles were flying high with a 22-point first quarter but couldn’t keep up the pace and fell to the Lyncs. Junior Bhavnoor Grewal had seven of his team-high 11 points in the first-period explosion, Toney had 9 points, and freshman Mantaj Singh added 8 points.
MOUNT BAKER lost to Sedro-Woolley on Tuesday, 73-39, and to Bellingham on Friday, 72-45. On Tuesday, the Mounties got off to a slow start and never recovered in losing to the Cubs. Seniors Ethan Larson and Kaden Hill led Mount Baker with 8 points each. On Friday, the Mounties couldn’t cool off the hot-shooting Bayhawks. Larson led the way again with 13 points, and senior Jacob Wade had 11 points and a couple of 3-pointers.
NOOKSACK VALLEY lost to Burlington-Edison on Monday, 76-64, and to Mount Vernon on Thursday, 68-67. On Monday, the Pioneers came out firing with a 20-point first quarter but couldn’t keep up with the high-scoring Tigers. Ackerman and DeLange combined for 38 points with the freshman hitting all four of his free throws and the senior sinking the Pioneers’ only two 3-pointers. Junior Wayne Silves and sophomores Caden Heutink and Colton Lentz finished with 8 points each. In Thursday’s thriller, the Pioneers led by seven in the final period of their upset bid but couldn’t hold off the Bulldogs, who made 9 of 10 free throws and scored 24 points in the fourth quarter. Lentz had 18 points including seven in the fourth period, Ackerman had 16 points, and DeLange added 14.
BLAINE lost to Mount Vernon in overtime on Monday, 82-79; lost to Lynden Christian on Thursday, 70-56; and lost to Anacortes on Saturday, 84-70. On Monday against former coach Brett Farrar, the Borderites took the Class 3A Bulldogs to overtime but could only come up with four points in the extra period. Russ had 23 of his 27 in the second half, Koreski had 17 points and five 3-pointers, Smith had 15 points, and senior Carson Lehnert had 11. On Thursday, the Borderites mounted a second-half rally against the Lyncs but couldn’t get closer than nine in the fourth quarter. Russ had 13 of his team-high 17 in the second half, junior Noah Tavis had 13 points and three 3s, Smith had 12 points and two more 3-pointers, and Lehnert added 8 points. On Saturday against the Seahawks, Smith had 27 points, Russ had 20, and Lehnert had 10.
It’s rivalry week with Lummi Nation hosting Tulalip Heritage in a rescheduled contest on Monday, and Lynden Christian at Lynden in a battle of defending state champions on Saturday.
Monday, Jan. 30: Lakewood at Meridian, Oak Harbor at Mount Baker, Tulalip Heritage at Lummi Nation
Tuesday, Jan. 31: Bellingham at Burlington-Edison, Blaine at Sehome, Lynden at Ferndale
Wednesday, Feb. 1: Squalicum at Lynden Christian, Mount Vernon at Mount Baker, Nooksack Valley at Anacortes
Thursday, Feb. 2: Ferndale at Blaine, Mount Baker at Lakewood
Friday, Feb. 3: Meridian at Squalicum, Nooksack Valley at Sehome
Saturday, Feb. 4: Mount Vernon at Bellingham, Lynden Christian at Lynden
NORTHWEST 1B LEAGUE
|Cedar Park Christian (Lynnwood)||2||10||2||12|
|Providence Classical Christian||2||10||2||11|
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.