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Fuller’s buzzer-beater completes furious comeback, lifts Meridian to regional berth

Trojans beat Nooksack Valley 67-65 in winner-to-state, loser-out district thriller

By Connor J. Benintendi Sports Editor

LYNDEN — After trailing the entire game, Meridian’s Cohen Fuller sunk a game-winning fastbreak layup at the buzzer to send the Trojans to regionals for the first time since 2020, capping a 67-65 win over Nooksack Valley on Friday, Feb. 16 at Lynden High School.

Meridian’s only lead in the 1A District 1 consolation final came after the clock read zeroes. The ball left Cohen’s hand with one-tenth of a second left, gently bounced around the rim and fell through.

“I’m thinking ‘Do not miss the shot, cause you miss it and we’re going to overtime,’” Fuller said. “I did not want to go to overtime. I just want to go home.”

Meridian junior Talon Jenkins takes a jump shot. (Finn Wendt/Cascadia Daily News)

The play was first set up by a near-steal from Nooksack Valley senior guard Wayne Silves with 21 seconds to play and the Pioneers leading 65-62 — one that would have iced the game.

Instead, Meridian senior guard Jacob Amundson, who nearly lost the game by turning it over, tussled for it and got it back. He dished it to his teammate, junior guard Talon Jenkins, mere inches away, who knocked down a 3-pointer with 16 seconds remaining.

On NV’s following possession, Pioneers junior forward Colton Lentz drove in and was stripped as he rose up for a mid-range shot. Meridian senior guard Taran Burks collected it and passed ahead to a streaking Fuller, who ended the game and sent the Trojans to regionals.

Nooksack Valley junior forward Colton Lentz looks down the court as Meridian scores a game-winning layup. (Finn Wendt/Cascadia Daily News)

“I’m extremely proud of Cohen. He’s somebody that we’ve had a lot of talks with about his role on this team,” Meridian head coach Shane Stacy said. “I’ve had many seniors that would have thrown up their hands over the years. But Cohen’s embraced his role and he’s run with it, and I think he’s just such a valuable teammate.”

No. 4-seeded Meridian (12-11) trailed by as much as 13 and were down seven with under three minutes to play. Both teams dealt with foul trouble, adding a layer of volatility that may not have been present otherwise.

Regardless of how it happened, Meridian will enjoy a season extended beyond districts for the first time in four years.


“We’re going to keep working hard and that’s all,” Fuller said. “Just keep working hard; just keep pushing forward.”

For No. 3 NV (12-12), it was a bitter end to head coach Jason Heutink’s first season leading the program. The Pioneers were upset by Meridian twice in the district tournament despite being the higher seed.

“[The] ball didn’t bounce quite our way on the couple last possessions there,” Heutink said. “It just happened, I guess … The cards didn’t fall our way. They got an easy outlet, and he was fortunate enough to be right there to lay it in.”

From left, Meridan seniors guards Jacob Amundson, Taran Burks and post Christian Clawson help up senior guard Cohen Fuller after he drew a charge. (Finn Wendt/Cascadia Daily News)

Stacy, despite his elation, felt for the Pioneers after the game.

“There’s a whole other part of this [with] the pain in that other locker room, too,” Stacy said. “I’ve had tough losses, and my heart goes out to those guys. They played their butts off and they played hard … It was a tough way to lose, but it’s also a really happy way to win.”

Jenkins led Meridian with a game-high 18 points, while senior post Christian Clawson had 15. Burks (13 points) and Fuller (12) also finished in double figures for the Trojans.

NV was led by 16 points from junior forward Brady Ackerman, including 12 in the second half. Junior guard Caden Heutink had 12 points and sophomore guard Cole Coppinger finished with 11. The Pioneers will graduate five seniors ahead of next season.

Meridian now awaits its regional seed, which will likely be in the bottom eight of the 16-team bracket. If so, the Trojans will face elimination once again on either Friday, Feb. 23, or Saturday, Feb. 24, depending on scheduling.

Connor J. Benintendi is CDN’s sports editor; reach him at connorbenintendi@cascadiadaily.com; 360-922-3090 ext. 104.

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