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Lummi Nation captures tri-district title over Neah Bay

Jerome Toby’s game-high 22 points propels Blackhawks

By Mathew Callaghan Sports Intern

MOUNT VERNON — Lummi Nation extended its winning streak to 22 games and claimed the 1B Tri-District championship after holding off Neah Bay, 53-47, Saturday, Feb. 17 at Mount Vernon Christian School.

Top-ranked Lummi, which is gunning for its first state title since 2015, has not lost since falling to Class 2B La Conner in its season opener, 62-58, on Dec. 2.  

Both Lummi (22-1) and Neah Bay (17-4) already qualified for the regional round of state after winning their respective semifinal matches on Friday, Feb. 16. 

Family, friends and fans take photos of the Blackhawks. (Finn Wendt/Cascadia Daily News)

Lummi head coach Jerome Toby said his team will need to continue to play at a high level and focus on their identity, which includes unselfish actions, a commitment to team play and an emphasis on defense and rebounding.

“This is a group that knows what they want to accomplish this season,” Toby said. “They executed, just like I hoped they would. That’s what it takes to beat a good Neah Bay team. We needed our best to beat them.” 

Lummi sophomore guard Jerome Toby, the coach’s son, scored a game-high 22 points, while senior forward Desmond Bailey added 10 and junior forward Karson Revey chipped in seven. Neah Bay was led by junior guard Makyah Chambers’ team-high 18 points. 

The Blackhawks jumped out to an early lead as the two teams played gritty, full-court defense and focused on limiting transition buckets. Both teams played at a high tempo and looked to get shots up in bunches.  

Lummi Nation sophomore guard Jerome Toby gets a shot up after being fouled. (Finn Wendt/Cascadia Daily News)

The Blackhawks’ defense was able to limit the Red Devils to 6-of-27 shooting from the floor, including 0 for 10 from downtown. That helped Lummi build a 15-6 lead through the first quarter. 

When Neah Bay switched to a zone in the second quarter, the Blackhawks looked to get the ball to the high post and then dish it off to the low block when the defense collapsed. The first half ended with Lummi leading 29-18. 

Lummi Nation came out of the break with a hot hand from 3-point territory. The Red Devils responded with multiple layups off fast breaks, but the Blackhawks held onto a 41-33 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. 

The Lummi Nation bench celebrates a 3-pointer. (Finn Wendt/Cascadia Daily News)

In an intense fourth quarter, Chambers hit a contested 3-pointer to pull Neah Bay within five with a minute left.  Quick to answer back, Toby contorted his body and made a difficult scoop layup with his left hand. Immediately after, Chambers’ floater hit the bottom of the barrel over three defenders.  

With Neah Bay now forced to foul, Toby was sent to the free throw line, making one and missing the other, and the Blackhawks held on for the victory. 

Neah Bay coach Stan Claplanhoo explained that Neah Bay and Lummi typically play each other in the regular season, but they didn’t get that opportunity this year. He said his team had little idea about what to expect from their rival this season. 

Terrance Adams, vice chairman of the Lummi Indian Business Council, tries to explain proper net-cutting technique to senior guard Tobias Francis. (Finn Wendt/Cascadia Daily News)

“We’re a rivalry,” Claplanhoo said. “Us and Lummi go way back. We knew at the start of the season we were going to be at this game. We were looking forward to it.” 

Now both teams will await regional seeding.  

Sophomore Toby said it feels good to secure the tri-district title and move on to regionals. 

“This is one step that we’ve been working on all season,” Toby said. “We knew we were going to be challenged, but we had to come out here and compete … [we’ve got to] keep working and be prepared for everything that’s coming next.” 

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