With two more weeks left in the regular season, Class 1A powers Nooksack Valley and Lynden Christian continue to lead the Northwest Conference, and Lummi Nation is running away with the Northwest 1B League race.
But there are a lot of big games on tap for our Whatcom teams as they jockey for seeding in the upcoming playoffs, which will start in early February. Here’s a look at the league/district tournaments:
Class 1A: The Pioneers and Lyncs, who faced off in last year’s state championship game, are once again favored to make it to Yakima. But first they’ll have to survive the district tournament, which is basically a league tournament for our five Whatcom teams. The two lowest seeds (currently Blaine and Mount Baker) will play off to join the top three (Nooksack, LC, and Meridian) in a modified, double-elimination four-team tournament with the two survivors advancing to crossover games against District 2 opponents. The winners of those two bi-district games advance to state regionals.
Class 2A: Barring major upsets in the next two weeks, Lynden, and Sehome will join Burlington-Edison and Anacortes as the top four seeds in the district tourney and will earn first-round byes. Squalicum currently sits at No.6 and will avoid the dreaded play-in games for seeds 7 through 10. Bellingham is currently No. 8. The top three district finishers will advance to the state regionals.
Class 3A: Ferndale is guaranteed a spot in the 12-team district tournament, which will be mostly teams from the Western Conference. The Golden Eagles currently are the fifth seed but are looking to move up to at least fourth so they can earn a bye and avoid the first-round, loser-out games. The top five teams qualify for state regionals.
Class 1B: Lummi Nation will join the other teams from the Northwest 1B League and the top 1B teams from the Northwest 2B-1B League in a district tournament. If the Blackhawks finish in the top five — and they are undefeated in league play and pretty much guaranteed a top-four seed and first-round bye — they would move on to the 12-team District 1-2-3 tournament with the top five advancing to state regionals.
For a look back at Week 8 for our county boys teams, check out Whatcom Hoops boys recap.
Here are the girls highlights from Week 8.
GAME OF THE WEEK
In an important Class 2A Northwest Conference showdown, Lynden led almost the entire game but Burlington-Edison finally caught the Lions in the final minute. With 12 seconds left, Lynden drove to the basket and passed out for an open 3-pointer that just missed and the Tigers escaped with a 47-45 victory.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK (FOR WEEK 6)
Congratulations to Nooksack Valley junior Tana Hoekema for being voted the SB Live’s WaFd Bank Washington high school athlete of the week for Jan. 2-7. She also was nominated for national basketball player of the week.
Hoekema had 20 points in the top-ranked Pioneers’ 60-47 victory over Lynden Christian on Jan. 3 in a rematch of last season’s Class 1A state championship game.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK (FOR WEEK 8)
Nooksack Valley junior Devin Coppinger had 30 points on Thursday, and junior Lainey Kimball had 19 points on Tuesday and 18 on Thursday… Lynden Christian junior Grace Hintz had 23 points and senior Daisy Poag had 15 on Monday, and Hintz followed that with 32 points on Thursday. … Junior Madi Cooper had 23 points to lead Sehome on Tuesday. … Mount Baker senior Maddy Barter had 21 points on Monday and 16 on Thursday. … Squalicum junior Makayla Heaton had 21 points to outscore Sedro-Woolley on Tuesday, and junior Mari Binning had 18 points on Saturday. … Lynden senior Adia Newcomb had 15 points on Wednesday, and junior Haylee Koetje had 19 points and freshman Payton Mills had 17 on Friday. … Ferndale senior Cailyn Kessen had 18 points on Wednesday. … Meridian senior Maris Baklund had 17 points on Thursday.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK
NOOKSACK VALLEY stopped Meridian on Tuesday, 69-22, and Mount Baker on Thursday, 73-22. On Tuesday, the Pioneers blitzed to a 30-7 lead after the first quarter and were never headed. Nine of the Pioneers scored with Kimball’s 19 points leading the way. Coppinger had 13 points, freshman Payton Bartl had 9 points on three 3s, and senior Hallie Kamphouse had 8 points and two 3-pointers. On Thursday, the Pioneers held Mount Baker to two points in the first period and then got their offense going with 43 points in the middle two quarters. Coppinger had 28 of her 30 points and Kimball had 16 of her 18 points through the first three quarters with Hoekema adding 9 points to the cause.
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN overpowered Oak Harbor on Monday, 60-22, and stunned Sehome on Thursday, 53-32. On Monday, the Lyncs’ defense limited the Wildcats to two points in the first period and rolled to victory. Hintz had 11 of her 23 in the first quarter, and Poag scored her 15 on five 3-pointers. On Thursday against a Sehome squad that had only lost once before, the Lyncs held the Mariners in single digits in three of the four quarters. After only four points in the first quarter, Hintz had 13 of her 32 points in the second period when LC scored 23 points. She would finish with 32 points and four 3-pointers. Senior Demi Dykstra added 8 points for the Lyncs.
SQUALICUM clobbered Sedro-Woolley on Tuesday, 65-18, and defeated Bellingham on Saturday, 56-32. On Tuesday, the Storm led 29-0 after one quarter and coasted to the big win over the Cubs. Heaton’s 17 first-quarter points were almost enough to win the game by herself and she finished with 21 points, two 3-pointers, and was 3 of 3 from the line. Binning added 12 points, senior Callie McEachran had 11, junior Caitlyn Richardson had 10, and junior Corinthian Stewart had 8. In Saturday afternoon’s game, Bellingham opened the scoring with a 3-pointer, but the Storm scored the next 16 points and never let the lead get under double figures the rest of the way. Binning had 18 points, McEachran had four 3-pointers and 14 points, and Heaton added 10 points.
LUMMI NATION pounded Providence Classical Christian on Tuesday, 67-4, and clobbered Cedar Park Christian (Lynnwood) on Thursday, 55-12.
MERIDIAN lost to Nooksack Valley on Tuesday, 69-22, but came back to beat Sultan on Thursday, 41-30, and Sedro-Woolley on Saturday, 33-13. On Tuesday, the Trojans only managed to make eight field goals against the defense of top-ranked Nooksack Valley. Senior Avery Neal had 7 points to lead Meridian, which only scored eight points after halftime. On Thursday, the Trojans’ defense held the Turks to just 20 points after the first quarter to pull away for the victory. Baklund had five 3-pointers and 17 points to lead the Meridian attack, Neal added 13 points, and junior Malia McCauley had 9 points. On Saturday, the Trojans didn’t have much offense but they didn’t need much because their defense held the Cubs to only three first-half points and to their second-lowest point total of the season. Neal outscored Sedro with 14 points, and Baklund added 6 points.
FERNDALE beat Mount Vernon on Wednesday, 63-41, but lost to Anacortes on Friday, 34-33. On Wednesday, the Golden Eagles flew out of the gate with a 19-point first quarter and then put the Bulldogs away with an 18-point third quarter. Kessen led the way with 18 points and three of Ferndale’s 11 3-pointers. Junior Naomi Stanley had 12 points, juniors Mallory Butenschoen and Maleah Singson had three 3s and 9 points each, and senior Ellie Ochoa added 8 points. On Friday, the Golden Eagles never came out of the gate, going scoreless in the first period and coming up one point short after rallying from an eight-point fourth-quarter deficit. Singson had 14 points and three 3s, and senior Ashley Lang had 8 points and a pair of 3-pointers, but it was still the team’s lowest point total of the season.
MOUNT BAKER beat Blaine on Monday, 40-35, and lost to Nooksack Valley on Thursday, 73-33. On Monday, the Mounties secured their first league win of the season by limiting the Borderites to 10 first-half points and then holding off Blaine’s comeback bid. With 21, Barter was the only Mountie with more than five points and she scored all 12 of the team’s fourth-quarter points. Against No.1 Nooksack Valley, Barter had three 3-pointers and finished with 16 points, and freshman Natalie VanLiew had 7 points, but no other Mountie managed more than three points.
LYNDEN lost to Burlington-Edison on Wednesday, 47-45, and mauled Mount Vernon on Friday, 69-45. On Wednesday, the Lions only managed seven points in the fourth quarter and couldn’t hold off the Tigers’ comeback. Newcomb had 15 points and four 3-pointers, Mills had 11 points, and juniors Kalanie Newcomb and Koetje had 8 points each. On Friday, Koetje had nine of her 19 points in an 18-point first period as the Lions took the early lead and steadily pulled away from the Bulldogs. Freshmen Mills and Rian Stephan had 17 and 13 points, respectively, and Adia Newcomb added 8 points.
SEHOME knocked off Anacortes on Tuesday, 59-46, but lost to Lynden Christian on Thursday, 53-32. On Tuesday, eight different Mariners scored as Sehome rallied from a four-point first quarter to ground the Seahawks. Cooper had 23 points and three 3-pointers to lead Sehome, junior Emmy Hart had 14 points and a pair of 3s, and senior Madison Hogan added 8 points. On Thursday, the Mariners suffered only their second loss of the season when they struggled to score against LC’s defense and struggled to stop Hintz. Hogan had 10 points to lead Sehome and Cooper had 8 points, but the Mariners only managed 13 first-half points and couldn’t make up a 19-point halftime deficit.
BELLINGHAM lost to Lakewood on Monday, 37-34, and to Squalicum on Saturday, 56-32. On Monday, the Bayhawks rallied with a 17-point fourth quarter but couldn’t quite catch the Cougars. Freshman Mary Lockhart had 11 points and 14 rebounds, senior Ellie Wolverton had 9 points, freshman Malia Hanks had 7 points, and junior Genevieve Blum had 14 rebounds. On Saturday, the Bayhawks fell behind 16-3 after one quarter and couldn’t get any closer. Wolverton had 14 points and two 3-pointers, and Lockhart added 8 points.
BLAINE fell to Mount Baker on Monday, 40-35, and to Burlington-Edison on Friday, 82-34. The Borderites only managed three first-quarter points but rallied for 17 in the final period only to come up short. Junior Deja Dube had 11 points and junior Jordyn Vezzetti had 8, including six in the fourth-quarter rally. On Friday, the Borderites couldn’t keep up with the Tigers’ offense. Vezzetti and Dube had 14 points each with Dube making three 3-pointers.
It’s Sehome’s and Ferndale’s turns to run the gauntlet of NWC leaders this week. The two play each other at Ferndale on Monday. Then Sehome is on the road again at Lynden on Friday, and Ferndale takes on the Lyncs at Lynden Christian on Saturday.
Monday, Jan. 23: Mount Vernon at Blaine, Sehome at Ferndale, Burlington-Edison at Nooksack Valley
Tuesday, Jan. 24: Lynden Christian at Lakewood, Mount Baker at Sedro-Woolley, Squalicum at Oak Harbor, Lummi Nation at Lopez
Wednesday, Jan. 25: Meridian at Bellingham, Anacortes at Lynden
Thursday, Jan. 26: Lynden Christian at Blaine, Nooksack Valley at Mount Vernon, Lakewood at Squalicum, Shoreline Christian at Lummi Nation
Friday, Jan. 27: Bellingham at Mount Baker, Sehome at Lynden, Oak Harbor at Meridian
Saturday, Jan. 28: Blaine at Anacortes, Ferndale at Lynden Christian
NORTHWEST 1B LEAGUE
|Providence Classical Christian||1||5||2||6|
|Cedar Park Christian (Lynnwood)||1||7||1||9|
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.