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Girls regional hoops: All four Whatcom County teams earn victories

Live results from Whatcom County games

By Connor J. Benintendi and Mathew Callaghan

Four Whatcom County girls basketball teams reached regionals, and all of them are headed to state following victories Feb. 23–24.

Three are off to the quarterfinals, while the Lummi Nation girls will enter the single elimination round of 12.

Recaps of all four games are below.

Nooksack Valley cruises past Toppenish, into state quarterfinals

Nooksack Valley junior post Alayna Dykstra is fouled as she drives to the hoop. (Finn Wendt/Cascadia Daily News)

MOUNT VERNON — Nooksack Valley outscored Toppenish by 22 points in the second half and the Pioneers cruised to a 75-36 regional win over the Wildcats on Saturday, Feb. 24 at Mount Vernon High School.

A slow start for NV in its first game in 14 days eventually turned around, as Pioneers seniors Lainey Kimball and Devin Coppinger combined to score 36 points — 26 of which came in the final two quarters.

“It’s been a while since we’ve actually played a game with each other,” Kimball said. “We’ve been playing each other in practice and scrimmaging every day. But there’s only so much you can do playing against each other every day.”

Kimball scored 18 points in the win, while University of Washington signee Coppinger poured in a game-high 28 points.

Nooksack Valley (23-1), the defending 1A champion and top seed in this year’s tournament, will not play again until 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 29 at the Yakima Valley SunDome. That game will be against the winner of No. 7 Bellevue Christian and No. 10 Seattle Academy.

“We’re where we want to be because we don’t play Wednesday,” NV head coach Shane Wichers said.

Nooksack Valley senior guard Kaylee Anderson takes a 3-pointer. (Finn Wendt/Cascadia Daily News)

No. 8 Toppenish (16-9) will have to play in the loser-out round of 12 at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28 to keep its season alive.

Toppenish came out physical on both sides of the ball — maybe more than NV expected. The Wildcats, with no seniors, hung tough in the first half.

A tight first half gave way midway through the second quarter when Kimball scored back-to-back buckets to give the Pioneers a 29-20 lead.

“We knew they were aggressive and that they were quick. They were really scrappy and we prepared for that,” Kimball said. “Personally, I love being in games like that. It’s fun and it gets me hyped.”

From there, Coppinger, Kimball and senior guard Kaylee Anderson all contributed to a 16-4 run that gave NV a 41-24 advantage at the break. Coppinger, in fitting fashion, beat the buzzer on a short jumper near the basket.

Nooksack Valley junior guard Kate Shintaffer takes a jump shot. (Finn Wendt/Cascadia Daily News)

It didn’t get any easier from there for Toppenish. The Pioneers outscored the Wildcats 20-2 in the third quarter — becoming a 32-6 stretch going back to midway through the second period.

With NV now leading 61-26 heading into the fourth quarter, the game was out of Toppenish’s reach.

Anderson also had 14 points for the Pioneers, while sophomore guard Payton Bartl contributed six on a pair of 3-pointers.

Nobody on Toppenish eclipsed double-digit points. Freshman guard Viviana Hernandez scored a team-high nine points.

NV will now try to defend its title in Yakima for the first time in school history.

“We’re kind of an uncharted territory. We’ve never had to defend it before,” Wichers said. “We know that we’re going to get everyone’s best. We talk all the time about whoever plays the best in [each] game is going to win. And that can be anybody.”

Lynden Christian fends off Lakeside, heads to quarterfinals

Lynden Christian’s Grace Hintz makes a basket Saturday, Feb. 24 as the Lyncs beat Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls), 59-51, in a 1A regional game at Lynden High School. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

LYNDEN — Lynden Christian secured its spot in the 1A state quarterfinals after holding off Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) in a 59-51 regional victory Saturday, Feb. 24 at Lynden High School. 

The No. 3 Lyncs will now face the winner of No. 4 King’s and No. 13 Eatonville in the quarterfinal round at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 29 at the Yakima Valley SunDome. 

Against No. 6 Lakeside on Saturday, Lynden Christian junior guard Grace Hintz had a game-high 16 points while sophomore guard Ella Fritts contributed 13. 

Lakeside was led by Ayanna Tobeck’s 12 points, while Avery Haff had 11 and Rylee Darnold chipped in 10. 

“Lakeside did a good job of keeping us off balance and sped us up at times,” Lynden Christian head coach Brady Bomber said. “They were very physical, so I was happy that we responded when they went on a couple of runs and how we were able to respond to adversity.” 

Lynden Christian’s Kayla Yun lines up a 3-pointer. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

The pair of teams ran a lifted zone defense for most of the game that focused on getting defensive stops by flying around the perimeter, deflecting passes and causing chaos. The first quarter was a tightly contested battle as the two teams traded buckets, until the Lyncs built a 17-13 lead at the end of one quarter. 

Lynden Christian held Lakeside scoreless until 4:30 left in the second quarter.  

Hintz kept LC humming offensively with a deep 3-pointer followed by a euro step layup in transition. Meanwhile, Lakeside’s offense worked the ball around to the high post, waiting for the Lyncs’ defense to collapse, leaving players wide open on the wings. The first half ended with Lakeside regaining the lead at 33-26. 

Lynden Christian’s Allison Shumate blocks a shot against Lakeside. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

Lakeside continued to implement its full-court press that wasn’t too effective until later in the second half. Lynden Christian fronted the post, which proved to be successful as Lakeside struggled to score for most of the quarter. LC then went on a tear offensively to take a 50-37 lead heading into the final frame. 

The Lyncs picked up multiple offensive rebounds and kept a comfortable lead for most of the fourth, until the final few minutes. Players toppled over each other and reached for loose balls as Lakeside intensified its defensive effort. Lakeside was left unable to score in crunch time as Hintz put the game away with a pair of free throws to end the game at 59-51. 

Now LC is looking forward to its quarterfinal opponent. Between now and then, Bomber said his team will fix what they can and give their attention to getting a little bit better each day. 

“There’s a few lessons we can learn, but also we showed some grit and toughness,” Bomber said. “That’s going to be important for us moving forward.” 

Blackhawks hold off Taholah, 53-42, in regional victory

From left, Lummi Nation sophomore guards Ailina Rabang, Brianna Metteba and freshman guard Jemma Jones celebrate after the game. (Finn Wendt/Cascadia Daily News)

MOUNT VERNON — Sophomore guard Ailina Rabang’s 34 points powered Lummi Nation girls basketball to its first 1B state bid since the 2019–20 season following a 53-42 win over Taholah on Saturday, Feb. 24 at Mount Vernon High School.

Lummi Nation head coach Krista Mahle said Rabang, who had 29 points in the first half, benefitted from Taholah focusing on freshman guard Jemma James.

“Every team we come in to play, they’re prepared for Jemma and they don’t even think to guard Ailina, so that changes the game,” Mahle said. “The benefit is all of these girls can shoot the ball — they all play really well on the court.”

With the win, No. 11 Lummi Nation (18-8) is now heading to the Spokane Arena for the first time in four seasons. The Blackhawks will face the loser of No. 6 Oakesdale and No. 3 Waterville-Mansfield in a loser-out round of 12 match at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Lummi Nation sophomore guard Ailina Rabang slips through two defenders to take a shot. (Finn Wendt/Cascadia Daily News)

No. 14 Taholah (15-7) had its season end with the loss, but the Chitwhins will lose just one senior ahead of next season. Keeliana McCrory led Taholah with 10 points.

After Lummi Nation took a narrow 10-7 lead into the second quarter, Taholah stormed back early in the second, embarking on an 8-3 run to take a two-point lead of its own.

Then Rabang happened. Having already scored 17 points, Rabang hit one 3-pointer, then another. She started heat-checking herself and, before anyone could blink, dropped in three more.

In a matter of minutes, Lummi Nation’s lead inflated to 35-23 at halftime — with 29 points from Rabang.

Taholah came within eight points late in the third quarter, but the Chitwhins were unable to capitalize on their momentum.

Lummi Nation freshman point guard Jemma James and Taholah freshman post Shirleymae Stafford smile while fighting for positioning for a rebound. (Finn Wendt/Cascadia Daily News)

Lummi Nation struggled to score for a time — mostly because Rabang was held scoreless in the period — and Taholah missed multiple easy buckets that would have brought the game even closer.

By the end of the third quarter, Lummi Nation’s lead was back at 12 points, 45-33.

But it wasn’t over yet. The Blackhawks didn’t score for the first five minutes of the final period, opening the door for Taholah to pour in six in a row. Lummi Nation’s lead was suddenly cut in half.

“Our girls play them in native tournaments in the offseason, so we kind of know that they have that fight in them to come back a little bit,” Mahle said. “You just have to keep pushing, keep playing tough defense … it’s not anything new for us.”

After failing to make multiple free throws and trim Lummi Nation’s lead further, Rabang re-emerged with an and-one with 1:14 left on the clock. After the free throw, the Blackhawks’ lead was 11, and it was officially out of reach for the Chitwhins.

“They’ve just got to fight through the little things,” Mahle said of the state environment in Spokane. “The emotional part of it — it’s intimidating. It’s intimidating if you’ve never been.”

Lynden rolls to quarterfinals with win over White River

Lynden’s Finley Parcher drives through triple coverage Friday, Feb. 23 during the Lions’ 53-29 win over White River during a 2A regional game at home. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

LYNDEN — The current Lynden seniors and the underclassmen beneath them are heading to their first 2A state quarterfinal following a low-scoring, defensive regional win against White River, 53-29, on Friday, Feb. 23 at Lynden High School.

Last season, Lynden was the No. 2 seed and lost to No. 7 White River in regionals. The Lions then lost their next game in the round of 12 on the first day of the state tournament.

This time, with the same seeding circumstances, Lynden (24-1) will avoid a first-round state game and go straight to double elimination.

“We’ve managed to advance and we survived one more day,” Lynden head coach Rob Adams said. “They’ve never played on Thursday before. This whole entire group. Three coaches in four years. Now, they’ve punched their ticket to where they get to go have the student-athlete experience.”

White River (20-4), after upsetting Lynden last season, reached the 2A state semifinals. Lynden is hoping to reach that same stage, and hopefully better.

Lynden’s Lexi Hermanutz takes a shot near the basket while under pressure. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

Lynden will now face either No. 8 Columbia River or No. 9 Ridgefield in the quarterfinals at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 29. White River will face an undetermined opponent in the opening round at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

It was a rough game from the start, without many whistles in the first half. Even Lynden, which has been a potent offensive team most of the season, struggled to score.

Freshman guard Lexi Hermanutz scored a game-high 14 points for Lynden while sophomore post Payton Mills finished with 10. Nobody on White River eclipsed six points.

“White River came out and played like a team that’s been in the semifinals,” Adams said. “We struggled early with their intensity. And not just intensity, but their physicality. They were extremely aggressive, and we didn’t handle that very well.”

Lynden’s Kiki York blocks a White River shot. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

It was low-scoring as a result of sloppy play and physicality by both teams — hardly from good defense.

White River didn’t score for almost the first five minutes of the contest, allowing Lynden to build up a 7-0 lead. The Lions led 12-8 after one period after allowing an 8-4 run to the Hornets the rest of the quarter.

The Lions figured it out again in the second quarter, outscoring White River 8-2. If Lynden had played at even 50% of its typical efficiency, it could have been leading by 30.

“We looked like ourselves defensively,” Adams said. “We just didn’t look like ourselves offensively.”

It was mostly the same in the third quarter, the referees just began blowing their whistles. Thus, eventually, points had to be scored at the free-throw line, where 18 of Lynden’s points came.

As the fourth rolled around, things began to spiral for White River. The Lions’ lead continued to inflate, reaching its peak at the game’s end. Lynden outscored the Hornets 19-5 in the final period to secure the win.

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