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State hoops Day 3: Three Whatcom County teams advance to state championship games

Live results from Friday's semifinal, consolation semifinal games

Three Whatcom County teams are headed to state championship games, while an additional three are guaranteed a trophy following semifinal and consolation semifinal games in the Class 1B, 1A and 2A tournaments on Friday, March 1.

Both Lynden’s boys and girls teams will play for 2A state titles, while the Nooksack Valley girls are returning to the 1A state championship to try and defend their first-ever state championship earned last season.

The Lynden Christian boys and girls will play for third or fifth following 1A semifinal losses — both by two points or less — and the Lummi Nation boys can get fourth or sixth in the 1B tournament.

Championship and trophy game matchups for Saturday, March 2 are set.

1B/2B state tournaments: Spokane Arena

  • 1B boys fourth/sixth place game: No. 1 Lummi Nation (23-2) vs. No. 3 Moses Lake Christian/Covenant Christian (22-2), 8 a.m.

1A/2A state tournaments: Yakima Valley SunDome

  • 1A boys third/fifth-place game: No. 2 Lynden Christian (23-3) vs. No. 5 Seattle Academy (17-7), 11:15 a.m.
  • 1A girls third/fifth-place game: No. 3 Lynden Christian (19-8) vs. No. 5 Wapato (23-5), 1 p.m.
  • 2A boys state championship: No. 1 Lynden (23-4) vs. No. 2 Grandview (25-3), 3 p.m.
  • 2A girls state championship: No. 2 Lynden (26-1) vs. No. 1 Ellensburg (23-0), 5 p.m.
  • 1A girls state championship: No. 1 Nooksack Valley (25-1) vs. No. 2 Deer Park (26-0), 9 p.m.


Deer Park ends LC’s title game streak at five in semifinal nail-biter

Lynden Christian’s Grace Hintz looks up Friday, March 1 as Deer Park players celebrate beating the Lyncs, 43-42, in the 1A state semifinals at the Yakima Valley SunDome. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

YAKIMA — Ella Fritts sank a layup with five seconds remaining in the game to trim Lynden Christian’s deficit to one, but the clock ran out on the Lyncs — and their streak of five straight 1A girls title game appearances — in a 43-42 semifinal loss to Deer Park on Friday, March 1 at the Yakima Valley SunDome.

The No. 3-seeded Lyncs (19-8) entered their final possession trailing the No. 2 Stags (26-0) by three with 16.5 seconds left on the clock. When the tying 3-point look wasn’t there, Fritts had to improvise.

“We had a plan of what we were trying to do. They obviously took away the shot we wanted,” LC head coach Brady Bomber said. “Our kids tried to execute to get the shot we wanted. It didn’t happen. Ella made a play. We weren’t able to stop the clock after that.”

For the first time since the 2016–17 season, LC will not be one-half of the 1A girls state championship game. The Lyncs spent that last two title games facing off against in-county rival Nooksack Valley, which is headed to its third straight following a semifinal win over No. 5 Wapato.

During that five-season run, LC emerged as champions three times — most recently in 2022. Now, LC will face Wapato in the third/fifth-place game at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 1.

“We’ve had a lot of talented, high-character players come through our program, and this group’s no different,” Bomber said. “We’re proud of our groups that we’ve had and the way they’ve competed, the way they’ve represented our community and our school … it’s been a special run.”

Lynden Christian’s Allison Shumate gains control of the ball with her fingertips. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

Junior guard Grace Hintz and junior forward Allison Shumate each finished with 11 points for LC. Fritts had eight points and the team’s lone senior, Tabby DeJong, pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.

Both teams were almost perfectly square through three quarters, aside from a brief seven-point lead by LC early in the second quarter.

What was supposed to be a 31-31 tie entering the fourth quarter ended up as a one-point lead for Deer Park after a shooting foul on the Lyncs at the period’s buzzer.

Deer Park maintained a narrow lead deep into the fourth quarter — never more than three points, but never allowing LC to move in front. In fact, Deer Park’s largest lead of the game to that point was just five, all the way back at the beginning of the second quarter.

Despite LC shooting a higher percentage from the field (37.2%) than the Stags (28.3%) and outrebounding Deer Park (36-27), it was the victor’s 3-point shooting that was the difference.

Deer Park made 8-of-28 shots from deep, making up more than half of its total shooting, while LC was just 1-of-9 from beyond the arc.

That firepower, led by freshman guard Ashlan Bryant’s game-high 22 points, was too much for the Lyncs to keep up with. It kept LC at arm’s length for most of the second half.

“The pain is real and there’s a lot of tears and a lot of emotions there,” Bomber said. “For us, we know our identity is not in this. For us [it’s about] our faith and how much our God loves us. It doesn’t change whether we win or lose.”

— Connor J. Benintendi

Bremerton misses game-winner, Lynden survives state semifinal thriller

Lynden players celebrate after Bremerton misses the would-be game-winning shot Friday, March 1 as the Lions beat the Knights, 53-52, in the 2A state semifinals at the Yakima Valley SunDome. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

YAKIMA — Bremerton senior guard Trenton Bulmer’s would-be game-winning, leaning jumper was offline and the No. 1 Lynden boys hung on to beat the No. 11 Knights, 53-52, in the 2A state semifinals on Friday, March 2 — preserving the Lions’ hopes for a historic three-peat.

Immediately preceding Bulmer’s shot was a pair of free throws by Lynden senior guard Anthony Canales with a chance to make it a three-point game, and he missed both.

Canales, a two-time 2A state tournament MVP and the program’s all-time leading scorer, understood the gravity of the misses, but his teammates stuck with him and he kept his mind where it needed to be: on defense.

“We just get one more stop, we go to the state title game. That’s what we were thinking,” said Canales, who led Lynden with 24 points and six rebounds in the game. “I was down on myself for a second, but I knew I had to play one more possession because our season was on the line there.”

When the stop came, it was pure elation for the Lions. Lynden (23-4) will face No. 2 Grandview in the title game at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 2. A win there would give the Lions their first-ever three-peat in program history, fifth title since 2018 and 13th overall.

“We never talk about it and frankly we don’t even think about it much,” Lynden head coach Brian Roper said of winning three in a row. “We just are kind of in the moment, in the season, thinking about what we need to do to beat the next team.”

Lynden’s Brady Elsner is fouled as he drives to the basket. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

Bulmer’s shot was the final one of the game, but it was far from the only opportunity Bremerton (19-9) had to win the game. After leading by 11 midway through the third quarter, Lynden allowed the Knights to storm back and pull within two with 1:16 left to play.

Canales pushed the Lions’ lead to three, 52-49, with a minute remaining.

Bremerton freshman guard Jalen Davis immediately responded with a 3-pointer to tie it with 33 seconds left — a small sample of the first-year varsity player’s 33-point night (on 12-of-15 shooting).

“I give a lot of credit to Jalen. He’s a freshman. That’s one of the best players I’ve ever played against,” Canales said of Davis.

Junior forward Brant Heppner made a free throw for Lynden with 25 seconds remaining to give it the 53-52 advantage. Bremerton could take a final shot if it wanted.

On the Knights’ next possession, Bremerton freshman Enoch Taylor couldn’t handle a pass in the corner, giving it back to Lynden with 8.1 seconds remaining and a one-point lead. The Knights had to foul.

Canales couldn’t get the free throws to fall and neither could Bulmer. The Lions had survived.

“I’ve just got to get my mind right. I got to get locked in for tomorrow,” Canales said. “I’ve been struggling shooting the last couple days, so I got to just try to correct it — just be calm and be me. Whatever happens, happens. I just got to keep going.”

Bremerton shot the lights out, hitting 50% from the field while Lynden was right at 39.2%. The difference was Lynden outrebounded Bremerton 37-18, including 19 boards on the offensive end. That equated to the Lions making exactly one more field goal than the Knights.

“A lot of credit, a lot of respect for Bremerton,” Roper said. “They’re not a mistake. That’s a very good team.”

Heppner finished with 11 points, five rebounds and five assists for Lynden. Senior forward Ty Holleman had four points and a team-high seven rebounds.

— Connor J. Benintendi

Nooksack Valley heads to third straight 1A state championship

Nooksack Valley’s Lainey Kimball looks for the basket Friday, March 1 as Nooksack Valley beat Wapato, 66-56, in the 1A state semifinals at the Yakima Valley SunDome. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

Yakima — Three seasons. Three 1A state championship appearances. Now the No. 1 Nooksack Valley girls hope to make it two state titles.

The Pioneers (25-1) ensured they’d have a shot to defend their state title by defeating No. 5 Wapato, 66-56, in the 1A state semifinals Friday evening, March 1, using a 20-9 third quarter to melt the hopes of a tiring Wolves (23-3) squad.

The third quarter featured senior Devin Coppinger scoring seven of her team-high 19 points and senior Tana Hokema adding eight of her 14 points in the game, including a traditional three-point play and a long-ball 3 punctuated by an emphatic celebration.

“I felt like it gave us a little more of an edge,” Hoekema said of her emotion. “It fed it and we fired off it.”

Wapato never went away in the fourth, pulling within six points twice in the final quarter, including with 1:30 to play. Each time the Wolves inched closer, Nooksack Valley responded with an offensive answer.

The biggest reply was Coppinger finding Hoekema near the hoop after an offensive rebound to build the lead back to eight points with one minute remaining. Seconds later, following a defensive stop, the Pioneers found a running Chayleigh Davis for a lay-in to seal the 10-point win.

But it was that third quarter that made the difference.

“We knew that we had to come out firing,” senior Lainey Kimball said about the halftime mindset. “Wapato was not going to give up. They wanted that game and came out scrappy. It was super fun.”

Nooksack Valley’s Devin Coppinger gets a layup on a fast break. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

Nooksack Valley head coach Shane Wichers said his team was able to attack the boards, get Hoekema involved and add in defensive stops in the third.

“They missed some short shots, and we were able to convert and got some momentum,” he said. “We were able to get to the rim, get some layups and hit some foul shots.”

The hot-shooting Wolves kept pressure on the Pioneers throughout the first half. Trin Wheeler set the pace early for Wapato, scoring 12 in the first half on the way to 27 for the game, an effort Wichers called “relentless.”

Even with Wapato shooting 50% from the floor in the first half, Nooksack Valley kept pace, mixing the scoring between Coppinger, Kimball, Hoekema and junior Kate Shintaffer.

The third quarter was all Coppinger, Hoekema and a 3-pointer from senior Kaylee Anderson.

Coppinger added eight rebounds and three assists to her 19 points. Hoekema recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Kimball had 11 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore Grace DeHoog had eight points and eight rebounds. Shintaffer and Davis combined to apply pressure on Wheeler, with Shintaffer also scoring six points.

This is Nooksack Valley’s fourth overall appearance in a state title game and third in the past three years. The Pioneers’ lone state championship came last season in a win over Northwest Conference rival Lynden Christian. The Pioneers will play the winner of the No. 3 Lyncs vs. No. 2 Deer Park at 9 p.m. Saturday, March 2 for the 1A title.

— Tim Newcomb

Lynden pounds the paint against Clarkston, reaches state title game

Lynden’s Finley Parcher is fouled as she goes to the basket Friday, March 1 as the Lions beat Clarkston, 61-43, in the 2A state semifinals at the Yakima Valley SunDome. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

YAKIMA — The 2A girls state basketball tournament has a top-flight championship matchup: No. 1 Ellensburg against No. 2 Lynden. The Lions solidified their semifinal win by turning a two-point halftime lead against No. 5 Clarkston into a 61-43 blowout victory Friday night, March 1.

Lynden, now on a 19-game winning streak, faces Ellensburg for the 2A state title at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 2 — the Lions’ sixth appearance in team history and first since winning it in 2020.

The Bantams (25-2) stymied Lynden’s (26-1) offense much of the first half, but the Lions broke things open in the second, opening a 20-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.

The scoring came thanks to an emphasis on distributing the ball down low, feeding sophomore post Payton Mills, who ended with a game-high 18 points.

“The first half we struggled a little bit again, because offensively we couldn’t make a basket,” said Lynden head coach Rob Adams, who is vying for his fourth overall state championship as the Lions’ coach Saturday. “I got on them a little bit … the kids just did an exceptional job in the second half. It was incredible. They literally got in a stance and said, ‘No more.’”

Points in the paint were a necessity for Lynden as the Lions continued to struggle shooting from outside. Following a 1-for-18 performance from 3-point land in a quarterfinal victory against Columbia River, the Lions failed to connect from deep in the semifinals, going 0-for-7.

Following a quick 10-2 lead to start the game, the Lions wouldn’t lead by that much again until there was 55 seconds left in the third quarter.

Lynden’s Haylee Koejte rises for a jump shot. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

Clarkston picked up the defensive intensity and crawled back into the game in the first quarter, taking an 11-10 lead into the first break on a buzzer-beating banked-in three-pointer. A 15-3 run by Clarkston ended in the second quarter with the Bantams’ largest lead of the night at four points.

Lynden responded to the pressure with a combination of buckets inside and made free throws, giving the Lions a 26-24 halftime advantage. Following a three to start the half for Clarkston, Lynden went on an 18-6 run for the rest of the quarter and continued to distance themselves in the fourth.

Adams said senior guards Haylee Koetje and Mallary Villars were key to the run.

“We don’t care about how many buckets you get, how many rebounds you get, we just care about playing the game the right way,” Adams said. “Mal and Haylee really care about that … They just want to win. My seniors played like winners. Without Mallory, without Haley tonight, we’re in trouble.”

Lynden’s rebounding advantage (52-25) was on display all night and the 23 offensive rebounds led to 24 second-chance points.

Mills not only led the Lions in points but also in rebounds with 12. Freshman Finley Parcher added 13 points and six rebounds, and Koetje scored 11 points and had five rebounds. Sophomore Rian Stephan had eight rebounds, while junior Kiki York had seven points and seven rebounds.

— Connor J. Benintendi

LC boys’ three-peat dreams end against Annie Wright

Lynden Christian’s Gannon Dykstra reacts as he walks off the court Friday, March 1 after the Lyncs lost to Annie Wright, 48-46, in the 1A state semfinals at the Yakima Valley SunDome. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

YAKIMA — The Lyncs’ hopes for the first three-peat in program history came to an end Friday, March 1. The No. 2-seeded Lynden Christian boys lost to No. 3 Annie Wright, 48-46, in a 1A semifinal thriller at the Yakima Valley SunDome.

While LC’s 1A state championship streak ends at two, Annie Wright will head to its first-ever state title game. Lyncs head coach Tim Zylstra complimented the Gators — a team he had only seen once before in a 2022 regional game.

“I thought we battled really hard in the second half,” Zylstra said. “I was switching defenses every single time down just to throw them off. They’re a really talented team. They are very athletic.”

Annie Wright led 43-42 with two minutes remaining in the game. The Gators got another bucket before the Lyncs missed on their next possession, then were called for an offensive foul on the following one with just 44.6 seconds remaining.

Both teams traded buckets — leaving just 19 seconds in the game — then LC was forced to foul and the clock simply ran out.

“They hit two shots down the stretch and we missed one,” Zylstra said. “I’m proud of the way the boys battled back and played their hearts out.”

LC heads to a third/fifth place game against No. 5 Seattle Academy at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday, March 2. Annie Wright will face top-seeded Zillah in the 1A title game at 7 p.m.

Senior forward and reigning 1A state tournament MVP Jeremiah Wright finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. Junior guard Gannon Dykstra tallied 13 points and four rebounds for the Lyncs, and senior guard Dawson Bouma had 12 points.

Annie Wright was led by 13 points from both junior guard Reggie Lester and sophomore forward Amare Breedlove.

A back-and-forth first quarter saw Dykstra and Wright evenly split all of LC’s points 12 points. Wright was dominant on the offensive boards from the start, allowing the Lyncs plenty of second-chance opportunities.

Lynden Christian’s Jeremiah Wright goes for the basket with seconds left in the game. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

Annie Wright junior wing Martin Kaupanger nearly tipped in an alley-oop on an inbounds pass at the first-quarter buzzer, but it went off the back of the rim. The game was tied 12-12 after one period.

LC’s inside game disappeared in the second quarter. Wright was only able to drop in two points as the Lyncs’ backcourt of Dykstra and Bouma was forced to put up more mid-range shots — with some effectiveness, as well.

Nevertheless, Annie Wright outscored LC 15-8 in the period behind nine first-half points from Lester and Breedlove. The Gators got a 3-pointer just before halftime from Breedlove to give them a 27-20 halftime lead.

LC flushed the first-half woes quickly. The Lyncs opened the second half with an 8-0 run, rapidly taking a 28-27 just over two minutes into the third quarter.

Even with starting senior post Kayden Stuit heading to the locker room with a leg injury late in the third quarter, LC took a three-point advantage into the final period. Stuit returned early in the fourth.

Annie Wright jumped on its own run to start the fourth quarter. The Gators went on a 7-0 run, taking a 40-36 lead, before Bouma stopped the bleeding with a contested layup with 4:41 to play.

That wasn’t enough, as Annie Wright’s big shots down the stretch led it to the waning moments.

“I tell them that I love them,” Zylstra said of how he addressed his players in the locker room — many of them two-time state champions. “Nothing changes that. Those boys, from the start of the year, you have to have a commitment to play on this team … We’re still playing on the last day, it’s just not in the game we for sure wanted to play in.”

— Connor J. Benintendi

Lummi Nation guaranteed trophy after bounce-back win

The top-seeded Lummi Nation boys bounced back from their stunning loss in the 1B state semifinals by beating No. 6 Cusick, 54-33, in a consolation semifinal game Friday, March 1 at the Spokane Arena.

With the win, the Blackhawks (23-2) secured their first trophy since 2022 when they finished sixth. Lummi Nation will play No. 3 Moses Lake Christian-Covenant Christian (22-2) in the fourth/sixth-place game at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 2.

Lummi Nation junior forward Tony Abrams lofts a floater in a 1B boys basketball quarterfinal game versus Mossyrock on Thursday, Feb. 29. (Photo by Joshua Hart)

The Blackhawks outscored Cusick 21-8 in the second quarter to build up their lead and pulled down nearly twice as many rebounds as the Panthers (46-25) in the game.

Lummi Nation was led by 14 points from senior forward Landon Day — all on 3-pointers — as well as 10 points and six rebounds from freshman guard Dyson Edwards. Junior forward Tony Abrams finished with five points and 13 rebounds.

As a team, the Blackhawks made 10 more free throws (15 for 20) than Cusick (5 for 11), which helped bolster Lummi Nation’s advantage.

— Connor J. Benintendi

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