After just one full week of play for the girls, the Northwest Conference favorites already are separating themselves with Lynden Christian, Ferndale and Sehome among the five undefeated squads.
Close behind are Nooksack Valley and Lynden, which has dropped two close games despite being without key players who are soon coming back. Both the Pioneers and Lions also were among teams that saw the coming-out parties for freshman standouts.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Nooksack Valley produced what could be its signature win with a hard-fought 56-48 victory over defending Class 2A state champion Lynden on the road on Tuesday. The Class 1A Pioneers jumped to a double-digit lead in the first quarter, watched the short-handed Lions fight back to within two points in the second half, before Nooksack Valley put up 21 fourth-quarter points to pull away.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Meridian sophomore Maris Baklund had a game-high 31 points in leading the Trojans over Mount Baker on Tuesday. … Sophomore Hallie Kamphouse sank eight 3-pointers and scored a game-high 28 points in Nooksack Valley’s victory over Blaine on Thursday. Her teammate, freshman Devin Coppinger, had 22 points in her varsity debut to lead Nooksack Valley over Lynden on Tuesday. … Sehome senior Aspen Garrison finished off her high school career by scoring 22 points against crosstown rival Bellingham on Tuesday. … In the Saturday showdown between Class 1A powers, Lynden Christian’s Lexi Hernandez had 20 points, and junior Libby Stump and senior Emily Mellema had 18 each as the Lyncs defeated Nooksack Valley. … Ferndale senior Jamie Johnson nearly outscored Oak Harbor by herself on Saturday, scoring 19 points in the Golden Eagles’ win.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK
Lynden Christian started the season with wins over Blaine on Tuesday, 63-17, and 77-24 over Mount Baker on Thursday. But the defending Class 1A state champs’ biggest win was over another 1A state power, Nooksack Valley, on Saturday, 84-52. In their opener, senior Paige TeVelde had 15 points, Lexi Hernandez had 12 and junior Alli Van Kooten had 10, including 4-for-4 from the line. Against the Mounties, the Lyncs hit a school record 14 3-pointers, including five by TeVelde, who also had a game-high 17 points. Emily Mellema added 14 points as did sophomore Charley Dykstra, who also had three 3-pointers. In the showdown with Nooksack, seven different Lyncs combined for 12 3-pointers, but it was the LC defense that shined, holding the sharp-shooting Pioneers to only four 3-pointers.
Ferndale started off its season with a pair of big victories, stopping Squalicum, 70-23, on Tuesday and sinking Oak Harbor on Saturday, 59-22. On Tuesday, sophomore Ellie Ochoa and junior Hannah Barlean each had 17 points to lead the Golden Eagles with Barlean sinking five of Ferndale’s eight 3-pointers. Sophomore Madisyn Butenshoen had 13 points and senior Josie Cline added 10 as the Golden Eagles jumped to an 18-5 first-period lead and never looked back. On Saturday, Jamie Johnson made three 3-pointers among her game-high 19 points. Cline added 11 points, and Barlean and Butenschoen had 9 points each.
Sehome knocked off crosstown rival Bellingham on Tuesday, 53-33, but then had its game on Saturday canceled because of — believe it or not — accidents on the road that prevented the team from getting to Oak Harbor on time. Aspen Garrison wrapped up her senior season after only two games and is now attending St. Mary’s College in California to begin playing for the Division I school. Senior Kylee Wilson and junior Madeline Schumacher had 9 points each against Bellingham, with all of Wilson’s points coming on 3-pointers.
Nooksack Valley opened its season with a pair of big victories, defeating Lynden on Tuesday, 56-48, and overpowering Blaine on Thursday, 64-16, before falling to Lynden Christian on Saturday, 84-52. Against Lynden, Devin Coppinger’s 22 points led the way, and junior Tehya Moore and senior Maya Galley had 9 points each. Against Blaine, the Pioneers bombed in 13 3-pointers, eight of them by Hallie Kamphouse and three by Galley. Coppinger added 13 points and Galley had 11. Junior McKenna Wichers was the only Pioneer in double figures with 10 points and Coppinger added 8 against Lynden Christian.
Meridian defeated Mount Baker on Tuesday, 74-41; lost to Class 2A power Burlington on Thursday, 70-42; and then beat Mount Vernon on Saturday, 44-29, in a rematch of the previous week’s Trojan victory. In addition to Maris Baklund’s 31 points, senior Maddie Bowler had 15 points and junior Skyleigh James had 12 against the Mounties. The Trojans fell behind early against the Tigers, managing only four points in the first quarter, and never recovered. Bowler and junior Kadance Blankers led Meridian with 13 points each and combined for five 3-pointers. On Saturday, James and Blankers had 12 each, and sophomore Avery Neal had 8 as the Trojans made 10 of 13 free throws to put away the Bulldogs.
Lynden lost to Nooksack Valley, 56-48, on Tuesday, but bounced back to clobber Sedro-Woolley on Thursday, 70-21, and knock off Bellingham on Saturday, 60-24. Against the Pioneers, senior Anna VanderYacht had 17 points, senior Riley Anderson had 11, and sisters Adia and Kalanie Newcomb had 9 each. In Thursday’s victory, the Newcombs had 12 points each, VanderYacht added 10 and senior Maddie Canales had 10 rebounds in addition to her 7 points. Against the Red Raiders, freshman Kalanie had a game-high 12 points, Anderson had 11 points and 8 rebounds, freshman Haylee Koetje had 10 points and 9 rebounds, and Canales had 8 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
Lummi Nation earned its first victory of the season and the first win for new coach Sarah Tom by defeating visiting Shoreline Christian, 37-30, on Tuesday. The two teams will have a rematch at Shoreline on Monday.
Blaine dropped its first two contests to Class 1A state powers, losing to Lynden Christian on Tuesday, 63-17, and to Nooksack Valley on Thursday, 64-16, before notching its first victory, a 36-24 win over Sedro-Woolley on Saturday. Junior Hailey Pike led the Borderites in all three games, scoring 10 points against the Lyncs and 7 points against the Pioneers. Against Sedro-Woolley, the Borderites were down by one going into the final period, but put together a 16-3 fourth quarter for the win. Pike had a game-high 14 points and 9 rebounds. Alia Ball had 10 points, including six in the critical fourth period, and fellow freshman Deja Dube added 6 points.
Mount Baker dropped its first two games of the season to Meridian on Tuesday, 74-43, and to Lynden Christian on Thursday, 77-24. In her varsity debut against Meridian, freshman Lauren Valum led the Mounties with 11 points, including three 3-pointers, and senior Ripley Reardon added 10 points. Junior Taite Reardon and sophomore Madison Barter had 8 points each to lead Mount Baker against the Lyncs.
Bellingham lost its opener to city rival Sehome on Tuesday, 53-33, and fell to Lynden on Saturday, 60-24. Against the Mariners, senior Adi McKay led Bellingham with 12 points, senior Alexa Mee had 8 points, and junior Mazy Wright had 7. On Saturday, it was Mee’s turn to lead the Red Raiders with 13 points, including a 3-pointer, and McKay added a pair of 3s and finished with 8 points.
Squalicum lost its first three games of the season, falling to Ferndale on Tuesday, 70-23; to Mount Vernon on Thursday, 39-32; and to Anacortes on Saturday, 50-36. Against the Golden Eagles, freshman Mari Binning led the Storm with 9 points, including the team’s only two 3-pointers, and senior Hannah Thurston added 7 points. Against the Bulldogs, Binning and sophomore Callie McEachran led the Storm with 8 points each. And Binning led the Storm against the Seahawks with 8 points, and senior Izzy Peters had 7 points.
Lynden Christian has quite the week ahead, hosting Class 2A power Burlington-Edison on Monday and then traveling to Yakima to take on La Salle on Saturday. The Tigers graduated only two players from last year’s state semifinalists, and have mauled their opponents this year. The LC-La Salle matchup features the past two Class 1A state champions. Both teams return almost their entire squads from last year when the Lyncs took the title and the Lightning finished fifth.
Monday, May 24: Blaine at Bellingham, Burlington-Edison at Lynden Christian, Mount Vernon at Mount Baker, Nooksack Valley at Sedro-Woolley, Sehome at Squalicum, Lummi Nation at Shoreline Christian
Wednesday, May 26: Bellingham at Nooksack Valley, Oak Harbor at Blaine, Meridian at Sehome, Mount Baker at Anacortes, Sedro-Woolley at Ferndale, Lummi Nation at Grace Academy
Friday, May 28: Sedro-Woolley at Bellingham, Mount Vernon at Lynden Christian, Ferndale at Meridian, Sehome at Mount Baker, Lynden at Squalicum, Mount Vernon Christian at Lummi Nation
Saturday, May 29: Bellingham at Oak Harbor, Lynden Christian at La Salle, Lynden at Burlington-Edison, 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.