The season is barely two weeks old, and already it’s a third of the way over. But has been long enough to show the strength of our Whatcom County teams.
Undefeated defending Class 1A state champion Lynden Christian is again at the top of the Northwest Conference standings after passing a pair of big tests this past week.
Not far behind are a quartet of county teams with one loss — Meridian, Sehome, Ferndale, and Nooksack Valley, whose only loss has been to LC. All three face difficult challenges this week as we head to the midway point of the COVID-shortened six-week season.
GAME OF THE WEEK
In a week full of great games, Meridian and Ferndale take top honors thanks to the heroics of the Trojans’ Kadance Blankers. In the battle between two of the Northwest Conference’s top teams, it came down to the final 2.7 seconds when senior Josie Cline hit two free throws to give the Golden Eagles a one-point lead. The Trojans in-bounded the ball to Blankers and the junior guard dribbled to halfcourt and let fly with a 3-point shot that fell through as the buzzer sounded to give Meridian the exciting 49-47 victory and give Ferndale its first loss of the season.
WEIRD GAME OF THE WEEK
It wasn’t quite the legend of the Six Iron Lyncs, but Mount Baker’s “Iron Four” almost beat Anacortes on Wednesday before falling, 46-42. With only seven players to start because of COVID tracing, the Mounties had two players foul out and another was ineligible to play the final period because of JV playing time. So for the last five minutes of the game, the Mounties mounted a comeback with only four players — senior Ripley Reardon, juniors Taite Reardon and Alyssa Chadwick, and sophomore Madison Barter. Barter finished with a game-high 29 points, 19 in the second half, and the Iron Four played great defense as Mount Baker rallied from eight down and cut it to two with 14 seconds left before a late Anacortes bucket ended the comeback.
COOLEST MOMENT OF THE WEEK (AND MAYBE OF THE YEAR)
Mount Baker’s all-league center Petra Allred tore her ACL before the season and although she is out for the year, she was honored with fellow classmate Ripley Reardon on Monday for Mount Baker’s seniors night. But what made the event super special was when Allred suited up and started the game. Coach Ken McLendon had arranged with Mount Vernon coach Bill Nutting to allow Allred to score the first two points of the game and what would be the final two points of her Mount Baker career. Mount Vernon was then allowed to score an uncontested layup to even the score. Ironically, it would turn out to be a two-point game that the Mounties won, 55-53. Well done, Mounties and Bulldogs.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Sophomore Madison Barter had 29 points in Mount Baker’s near-win on Wednesday against Anacortes and she added 19 points against Mount Vernon on Monday and 19 again against Sehome on Friday. … Nooksack Valley’s freshman sensation Devin Coppinger had a game-high 23 points in the Pioneers’ domination of Sedro-Woolley on Monday. Two days later, she had 26 points, including a 9-for-10 performance from the line, against Bellingham, and she finished the week with 17 on Friday against King’s. … Sehome junior Ava Lunny had 25 points on Wednesday, which was half of the Mariners’ points in the loss to Meridian, and she added 18 more on Friday against Mount Baker. …Senior Anna VanderYacht had 25 points and 8 rebounds in Lynden’s big win over Burlington-Edison on Saturday. … Ferndale senior Josie Cline had 24 points to outscore Sedro-Woolley in the Golden Eagles’ win Wednesday. … Lynden Christian’s Libby Stump had 21 points, including three 3-pointers, in the Lyncs’ big victory over Burlington-Edison, and then had 23 points, including a pair of 3s, in the Lyncs’ other big victory over La Salle. Senior teammate Emily Mellema had 20 points to lead the Lyncs over Mount Vernon on Wednesday. … Blaine junior Hailey Pike had 19 points, 13 rebounds and 6 steals in Wednesday’s victory over Oak Harbor. Her freshman teammate, Deja Dube, hit five 3-pointers for a team-high 17 points in Blaine’s loss to Bellingham on Monday. … Senior Alexa Mee had 17 points to lead Bellingham to its first win of the season on Monday.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK
Lynden Christian beat undefeated Burlington-Edison on Monday, 71-49; trounced Mount Vernon on Friday, 78-37; and passed its biggest test so far with a 53-47 road victory over La Salle, the team that would have been among the Class 1A state favorites. In Monday’s big showdown, the Lyncs used a 25-point second-quarter explosion to blow out the Tigers, who were a Class 2A state semifinalist last year. Junior Libby Stump’s 21 points led the balanced LC attack that included 13 from senior Lexi Hernandez, 10 from senior Emily Mellema, and 9 each from senior Paige TeVelde and junior Alli Van Kooten. Mellema’s 20 points led LC against the Bulldogs as all 11 Lyncs scored. Van Koosten had 10 points, and sophomore Demi Dykstra added 9. Against LaSalle, the Lyncs only gave up only one field goal in the third quarter to take a 13-point lead and then had to withstand the host Lightning’s 24-14 edge in total free throw attempts to secure the big victory. Stump continued her stellar play going 5-for-6 from the line and scoring a game-high 23 points, Hernandez had 10 points and TeVelde and Mellema had 7 points each. LC also held La Salle’s all-state center Trista Hull to one field goal.
Nooksack Valley had a great week with three wins, defeating Sedro-Woolley on Monday, 60-8; Bellingham on Wednesday, 61-40; and King’s on Friday, 68-45. Against the Cubs, the Pioneers jumped to a 31-1 first-quarter lead, gave up only two first-half points, shut out Sedro in the final quarter and allowed only one Cub to score. Devin Coppinger led Nooksack with 23 points, and junior McKenna Wichers added 10 points. The Pioneers started slow against the Raiders, trailing 7-5 after one quarter. But Nooksack came alive on offense with Coppinger scoring 26 points and the team’s only seniors, Maya Galley and Jenna Compton, tossing in 10 and 8 points, respectively. On the road against King’s, the Pioneers used a 40-point first half to take control and great defense in the second half to knock off the Seattle power. Coppinger led a balanced attack with 17 points, Galley had 16, sophomore Hallie Kamphouse had 12, Wichers added 8 and junior Ellie Van Berkum had 7.
Bellingham even its record by winning three of four. The Red Raiders beat Blaine on Monday, 40-33; lost to Nooksack Valley on Wednesday, 61-40; doubled up Sedro-Woolley on Friday, 58-29; and dominated Oak Harbor on Saturday, 39-28. Monday was seniors night for the Red Raiders, and seniors Adi McKay and Alexa Mee came through in the clutch to give Bellingham and first-year coach Darcie Hill their first victory of the season. McKay had 10 points, including two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter when the Raiders turned a seven-point deficit into a seven-point lead, and Mee had 17 points, going 4-for-4 from the line in the final period. McKay led the way against the Pioneers with 11 points, and Mee and junior Mazy Wright had 10 each with the three Raiders making a pair of 3-pointers each. Mee and McKay again led the way with 14 points each against Sedro, with Wright adding 11 and sophomore Kristina Jovag tossing in 9. The Raiders held Oak Harbor to 15 points through three-quarters and the senior duo of Mee and McKay almost outscored the Wildcats with 14 and 13 points, respectively. McKay added another three 3-pointers.
Meridian knocked off a pair of unbeaten teams, stopping Sehome on Wednesday, 62-50, and stunning Ferndale on Friday, 47-45 (see “game of the week” above). Against Sehome, sophomore guard Maris Baklund led the Trojans with 15 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, junior Kadance Blankers and sophomore Avery Neal had 13 each, and junior Finnley Claeys had 11, including a pair of 3-pointers. In the defensive battle with Ferndale, junior Skyleigh James led the Trojans with 12 points, Blankers had 8 points including the game-winning 3-pointer, and senior Brynn Neal and Claeys had 6 each.
Lynden continued its winning ways with victories over Squalicum on Friday, 51-23, and over Burlington-Edison on Saturday, 69-59. Coming out of quarantine to play for the first time this season, senior center Faith Baar recorded a double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds against the Storm, and Anna VanderYacht had 13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. But it was the Lions defense that led the way, holding Squalicum without a field goal in the final period. Lynden’s biggest win of the season so far was in the first of two contests against the Tigers. VanderYacht’s 25 paced Lynden over the Tigers as sophomore Adia Newcomb added 14, junior Sam Villars added 11, senior Riley Anderson had 8 points and 5 rebounds, and seniors Maddie Canales Baar combined for 20 rebounds.
Sehome beat Squalicum on Monday, 44-30; lost to Meridian on Wednesday, 62-50; and knocked off Mount Baker on Friday, 45-36. Against the Storm, the Mariners suffered a frigid day shooting (8 percent from the 3-point line, at one time missing 22 in a row from the field). But thanks to junior Ava Lunny’s big night — 14 points, including 7-of-8 from the line, and 9 rebounds — junior Madeline Schumacher’s 10 points, and two clutch fourth-quarter buckets from freshman Kylie Watson, the Mariners pulled out the win. Against Meridian, Lunny’s season-high 25 points and 11-of-12 from the line, freshman Madi Cooper’s 9 points, and junior Ava Collins’s 12 rebounds weren’t enough to prevent Sehome’s first loss of the year. The Mariners got back on the winning track by rallying from a nine-point, second-half deficit to defeat the depleted Mounties. Lunny again led the way with 18 points and 6 rebounds, senior Kaylee Wilson added 10 and 5 rebounds, and Schumacher had 9 points and a team-high 7 rebounds and 3 assists.
Ferndale clobbered Sedro-Woolley on Wednesday, 67-17, and suffered its first loss of the season in heart-breaking fashion to Meridian on Friday, 47-45 (see “game of the week” above). On Wednesday, the Ferndale defense held Sedro-Woolley to two first-quarter points and didn’t allows any Cubs to score more than five points. Senior Josie Cline had 24 points to lead the offense as all eight Golden Eagles scored. Sophomore Madysn Butenshoen had 11 points, and junior Kaelee Bungard had 8. In the loss to Meridian, Bungard had a team-high 11 points, Cline had 10, and junior Hannah Barlean had 8.
Blaine lost to Bellingham on Monday, 41-33, but came back to beat Oak Harbor on Wednesday, 42-24. Freshman Deja Dube led the Blaine on Monday with 17 points, including five 3-pointers, and 6 rebounds, and junior Hailey Pike added 14 points and 15 rebounds but only one other Borderite scored. Against Oak Harbor, junior Krystin Kamrath added 13 points to Pike’s 19 and freshman Alia Ball had 7 to help the Borderites to their second win of the season. Defense was the key as Blaine managed to hold the Wildcats to only two made free throws in the final period and had 19 steals with Pike nabbing 6 and Dube 5.
Mount Baker notched its first win of the season by beating Mount Vernon on Monday, 55-53; lost to Anacortes on Wednesday, 46-42; and couldn’t hold on to the lead in a 45-36 loss to Sehome on Friday. Against Mount Vernon, sophomore Madison Barter had 19 points and junior Trinity Anderson added 11 as the Mounties sank 7 of 8 free throws in the final period to hold off the Bulldogs. In the loss to the Seahawks, Barter’s 29 points were enough as the Mounties finished with only four players (see “weird game” above). With only seven players available, they ran out of gas against Sehome, letting a nine-point halftime lead slip away, despite Barter’s 19 points and Ripley Reardon’s 12.
Lummi Nation beat Shoreline Christian for the second time in a row, 50-37, on Monday, but lost to Grace Academy on Wednesday, 60-38, and to Mount Vernon Christian on Friday, 67-26, before having Saturday’s game at rival Tulalip Heritage canceled.
Squalicum fell to a pair of NWC powers, losing to Sehome on Monday, 41-30, and to Lynden; 51-23. Sophomore Callie McEachran had 10 points, and freshman Mari Binning had 7 to lead the Storm in Monday’s loss to the Mariners. McEachran had 7 points on Friday to again lead Squalicum, and seniors Rachel Heinke and Hannah Thurston had 6 points each.
a pair of contests pitting county teams at the top of the NWC standings, Lynden Christian travels to Ferndale on Tuesday, and Meridian is at Nooksack Valley on Saturday. The Lyncs remain the league’s only unbeaten team, but the Golden Eagles, Trojans, and Pioneers all have only one loss.
Monday, May 31: Grace Academy at Lummi Nation
Tuesday, June 1: Mount Baker at Bellingham, Squalicum at Blaine, Lynden Christian at Ferndale, Meridian at Lynden, Burlington-Edison at Sehome
Wednesday, June 2: Lummi Nation at Orcas Christian
Thursday, June 3: Blaine at Meridian, Nooksack Valley at Squalicum, Oak Harbor at Bellingham, Anacortes at Lynden Christian, Lynden at Mount Baker, Sedro-Woolley at Sehome, Ferndale at Burlington-Edison
Saturday, June 5: Mount Baker at Blaine, Meridian at Nooksack Valley, Burlington-Edison at Lynden, Anacortes at Sehome, Ferndale at Mount Vernon, Neah Bay at Lummi Nation
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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