Whitman, Bajema, Roper Honored As Best In State

Of the six young men named by the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association as players of the year in their respective classifications, two are not only from Whatcom County but from the same town.

Lynden’s Clayton Whitman and Lynden Christian’s Cole Bajema were named the Class 2A and 1A state players of the year, respectively.

Whitman, a 6-foot-4 forward who led the once-beaten Lions to their second consecutive state championship a week ago, averaged nearly 20 points a game. He has signed to play for Seattle Pacific University next season.

Bajema, a 6-8 guard, averaged 24 point a game while leading the once-beaten Lyncs to a fourth-place state finish this year. The University of Michigan signee also was named 2018 player of the year after leading LC to the state title last season.

Also honored was Brian Roper, who was named 2A coach of the year after guiding the Lions to their 10th title in school history and the fourth with him as coach.

Anton Watson, who led Gonzaga Prep to its second consecutive 4A state title, was named “Mr. Basketball” for Washington. McDonald’s All-American Jaden McDaniels of Federal Way was the 4A player of the year.

Other players of the year were Kelso’s Shawn Anderson (3A), Kittitas’ Brock Ravet (2B), and Maquire Isaak of Almira/Coulee-Hartline (1B).

Other coaches of the year, all of whom won state championships, were Gonzaga Prep’s Matty McIntyre (4A), O’Dea’s Jason Kerr (3A), Zillah’s Mario Mengarelli (1A), Kittitas’ Tim Ravet (2B), and Sunnyside Christian’s Dean Wagenaar (1B).

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.