With only two weeks left in the regular season, our 11 Whatcom County girls basketball teams find themselves with the same challenge: earning the highest seeding possible as they head into the postseason.
In part because of COVID’s disruptive effect on teams’ schedules — causing teams to play differing amount of games against different opponents — District 1 decided to have all teams automatically qualify for their respective Class 1B, 1A, 2A and 3A district tournaments.
While the specific times and locations for many of the games have yet to be determined, the formats and dates for all four districts tournament have been decided. Here’s a quick look at what’s ahead.
CLASS 3A: As our only team in this classification, Ferndale is automatically entered in the 16-team tournament with Oak Harbor, Mount Vernon and the WesCo schools. The Golden Eagles look to be seeded in the top eight, which means they will avoid the first-round loser-out games and advance to the double-elimination portion. Starts: Monday, Feb. 7 Advancing to state regionals: Top four
CLASS 2A: Lynden, Sehome, Squalicum and Bellingham will join the four Skagit County schools and two WesCo 2A squads in a 10-team tournament. The bottom four seeds will compete in two play-in games to join the double-elimination portion of the tournament. Starts: Thursday, Feb. 10 Advancing to state regionals: Top three
CLASS 1A: In a completely new set-up, Nooksack Valley, Lynden Christian, Meridian, Blaine and Mount Baker will have their own league/district tournament. The fourth and fifth seed will play a loser-out game with the winner playing the third seed in a loser-out game with the winner advancing to play the loser of the championship game pitting the the top two seeds with that winner joining the championship game winner in two cross-over games against the District 2 fourth- and fifth-place finishers. OK, it sounds complicated, but the bottom line pretty much is you win you advance, you lose you’re out. Starts: Tuesday, Feb. 8 Advancing to state regionals: The top two District 1 teams must beat District 2 teams to move on to regionals.
CLASS 1B: Lummi Nation is our only team in this classification, and the Blackhawks currently have the Northwest 1B League’s top seed, which would put them in the District 1 tournament semifinals on Tuesday, Feb. 8, and give them an automatic berth in the District 1/2/3 tournament. Tri-district starts: Saturday, Feb. 12 Advancing to state regionals: Top five tri-district finishers
For a look back at Week 8 for our county boys team, check out Whatcom Hoops boys recap.
Here are the girls highlights from Week 8.
GAME OF THE WEEK
In what may have been the game that determines the Northwest Conference championship, Nooksack Valley showed why it is the top-ranked Class 1A team in the state by holding Lynden to its lowest point total of the season and handing the Lions their first league loss, 64-35, on Friday. The Pioneers have now beaten three of their four closest rivals.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Mount Baker junior Maddy Barter put up 31 points against Sehome on Thursday, two days after she had 21 points against Mount Baker. … Sehome sophomore Emmy Hart had seven 3-pointers and 25 points on Wednesday, and senior Maddie Schumacher had 21 points to lead the Mariners on Thursday. … Nooksack Valley sophomore Devin Coppinger had 24 points on Monday and duplicated the feat with 24 points on Friday. … Senior Hailey Pike led Blaine with 22 points on Tuesday, and senior Krystin Kamrath had 17 points for the Borderites on Saturday. … Senior Libby Stump had 21 points in Lynden Christian’s only game last week. … Sophomore Serena Jo Pantelia led Lummi Nation with 20 points on Monday.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK
Lummi Nation ran its winning streak to four games by clobbering Lopez Island on Monday, 68-13; handing Grace Academy its first loss on Thursday, 60-41; and beating Cedar Park Christian (Lynnwood) on Friday, 61-12. On Monday, Pantelia led the Blackhawks’ scoring barrage with 20 points, Aleisha Solomon added 16 points, senior Jacynta Miles had 13, and sophomore Keyonee Morris had 10. Against Grace Academy, the Blackhawks avenged an earlier 30-point loss by jumping to a 16-3 lead and holding the Eagles to their lowest point total of the season. Aleisha Solomon not only had 16 points but held the Eagles’ top player to just 6 points, 19 less than she had in their first meeting. Raven Solomon added 12 points to the Lummi Nation attack, Pantelia had 9, and Miles had 8.
Nooksack Valley defeated Mount Vernon on Monday, 72-31, and beat Lynden to take over sole possession of first place, 64-35, on Friday. On Monday, the Pioneers held the Bulldogs to 20 points over the final three quarters. All nine Pioneers scored with Coppinger’s 24 leading the way. Senior Tehya Moore added 12 points, and junior Hallie Kamphouse hit three 3-pointers for 9 points. In Friday’s big win, the Pioneers’ sixth in a row, they held Lynden to 13 points in the first half and its lowest point total of the season. Coppinger led the Nooksack attack with 24 points, fellow sophomore Lainey Kimball had 10 points, and senior McKenna Wichers added 9 points.
Ferndale defeated both its Class 3A rivals last week, overpowering Oak Harbor on Monday, 62-42, and holding off Mount Vernon on Saturday, 50-44. On Monday, the Golden Eagles used a 22-point third quarter to blow open a close game and nailed down the victory by hitting 13 of 16 free throws. Junior Madisyn Butenschoen led a balanced attack with 12 points, junior Ashley Lang and sophomore Mallory Butenschoen had 10 points each, senior Hannah Barlean had 8 points, and junior Cailyn Kessen added 7. On Saturday, Ferndale built an 18-point fourth-quarter lead and then held off the Bulldogs down the stretch. Junior Ellie Ochoa finished with 16 points, Madisyn Butenschoen had 11, and Barlean added 9.
Sehome beat Sedro-Woolley on Wednesday, 74-37, and Mount Baker on Thursday, 58-51. On Wednesday, the Mariners’ defense led by sophomore Natalie Brewer and senior Ava Lunny helped Sehome jump out to a 24-5 lead. Hart had 16 of her 25 points in the third quarter to blow open the game; Schumacher had a great all-around night with 15 points, 11 assists, 3 rebounds, and 3 steals; Brewer added 10 points; and junior Madison Hogan had 8 points. On Thursday, the Mariners held Mount Baker to four first-period points and then sank 16 of 19 free throws in the second half to hold off the Mounties. Schumacher sank 9 of 10 free throws in the second half and hit a pair of 3-pointers to finish with a team-high 21 points, Hart made four more 3s for 12 points, and junior Mac Cooper sank all four of her free throws and had 11 points.
Lynden Christian crushed Anacortes on Wednesday, 75-33, and had its game with Lakewood canceled on Thursday. The Lyncs jumped out to an 18-3 first-quarter lead and put the game away with a 24-point fourth quarter. Stump made nine of her 10 shots, including both 3-point attempts, to finish with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Freshman Grace Hintz had 14 points and a team-high 3 steals; junior Daisy Poag had 11 points including three 3s; sophomore Reganne Arnold had 9 points and 6 rebounds; senior Alli Van Kooten had 8 points; and junior Demi Dykstra had 5 assists.
Meridian beat Bellingham on Monday, 52-19; lost to La Conner on Tuesday, 52-33; and came back to beat Blaine on Saturday, 52-29. On Monday, the Trojans’ defense held the Bayhawks to fewer than seven points in each quarter and coasted to victory. Senior Ellie DeWaard led the Trojans with 16 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and 14 rebounds; senior Kadance Blankers made five of six shots for 12 points and added 7 rebounds; senior Skyleigh James had 11 points; and junior Avery Neal had 8 points and 5 assists. In Tuesday’s non-league contest against the Class 2B power, James had team-highs of 16 points and 11 rebounds; DeWaard had 9 points; and Blankers added 8 points. On Saturday, the Trojans sank 13 of 16 free throws and held an opponent under 32 points for the seventh time this season. DeWaard led a balanced attack with 16 points and 9 rebounds. Neal and James had 12 points each with the former collecting 9 rebounds and 6 assists, and the latter pulling down 6 rebounds and making 4 steals.
Lynden dominated Lakewood on Monday, 51-18, and lost to Nooksack Valley on Friday, 64-35. On Monday, the Lions ran their winning streak to six games and held an opponent to 31 or fewer points for the sixth time this season. On Friday in the battle of teams unbeaten in league play, the Lions had their lowest point total of the season. Junior Haylee Koetje led Lynden with 13 points and senior Claire DeVries added 10 points.
Blaine knocked off Mount Baker on Tuesday, 43-32, and lost to Meridian on Saturday, 52-29. On Tuesday, the Borderites scored 27 points in the second half and held off the Mounties. Pike had 18 of her 22 points after intermission and pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds, sophomore Deja Dube had 11 points and 6 rebounds, sophomore Alia Ball had 7 points, and sophomore Jordyn Vezzetti had 6 rebounds and 4 steals. Against the Trojans, the seniors led the way with Kamrath scoring 17 and Pike 10, but the rest of the team only managed one other field goal. Pike pulled down 9 rebounds, and Ball and Dube had 3 steals each.
Squalicum fell to Burlington-Edison on Tuesday, 52-38, but came back to beat Bellingham on Friday, 42-37. On Tuesday, the Storm hung tough with the Tigers and were within striking distance until turnovers caught up with them at the end of the third quarter. Sophomores Caitlyn Richardson and Mari Binning led the Squalicum with 10 points each, and Richardson added 5 rebounds. Junior Callie McEachran and freshman Loretta Murphy-Kangas added 5 points each with McEachran adding 6 rebounds and 3 assists and Murphy-Kangas adding 4 rebounds. On Friday, the Storm outscored the Bayhawks, 13-7, in the fourth quarter for the win. Sophomore Makayla Heaton and junior Shelby Smithson led the way with 14 points and 2 assists each with Heaton adding 4 rebounds.
Bellingham lost to Meridian on Monday, 52-19, and to Squalicum on Friday, 42-37. On Monday, the Bayhawks never got their offense going and finished with their lowest point total of the season. Senior Mazy Wright had 8 points and 5 rebounds, senior Kaycee French had 5 points and 5 rebounds, and sophomore Genevieve Blum had a team-high 8 rebounds. On Friday, Wright had a game-high 15 points and 10 rebounds, and freshman Kira Carlson added 5 points and 4 rebounds.
Mount Baker lost to Blaine on Tuesday, 43-32, and to Sehome on Thursday, 58-51. On Tuesday, Barter went 9-for-10 from the free throw line, had a pair of 3-pointers, and scored 21 points, but no other Mountie managed more than four points. On Thursday, the Mounties rallied from 18 points down in the first half but couldn’t quite catch the Mariners even with a 17-point fourth quarter. Barter’s 31-point performance was the third time this season and second time in the six days that she’d scored more than 30 points. Sophomore Lauren Valum sank a pair of 3s in the comeback and finished with 10 points.
Lynden and Lynden Christian were supposed to be rebuilding this year but find themselves in a familiar place: squaring off in a huge late-season showdown. Both teams have only one loss in Northwest Conference play and if they survive big tests on Monday will face off at LC on Thursday with the winner still having a shot at the league title.
Monday, Jan. 24: Lynden Christian at Mount Vernon, Meridian at Sehome, Mount Baker at Anacortes, Lummi at Shoreline Christian
Tuesday, Jan. 25: Bellingham at Oak Harbor, Ferndale at Lynden
Wednesday, Jan. 26: Blaine at Squalicum, Burlington-Edison at Nooksack Valley
Thursday, Jan. 27: Nooksack Valley at Bellingham, Mount Baker at Lakewood, Sehome at Squalicum, Lynden at Lynden Christian
Friday, Jan. 28: Oak Harbor at Blaine
Saturday, Jan. 29: Burlington-Edison at Ferndale, Anacortes at Meridian
NORTHWEST 1B LEAGUE
|Cedar Park Christian (Lynnwood)||0||3||0||7|
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.