THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
Lynden's Stephanie Somers looks every bit the future Divison-I basketball player she is, standing 5-foot-11 with a strong build and a wide array of skills.
And while looks tell one story, her demeanor tells of a girl who cares only for the success of her teammates and not of her own.
"In today's age, everybody wants to be about themselves and their own glory," Lynden coach Rob Adams said in a phone interview. "(Somers) wants the glory to be with the group and not her as an individual."
The do-it-all guard for Lynden's girls' basketball team recently signed her national letter of intent to play at Division-I Idaho State University next year. It's not by shear happenstance that the standout was awarded such a privilege, either, as she provides a multi-faceted skill set that is both versatile and lethal.
Somers, who averaged 11.8 points per game last season en route to a first-team NWC nomination, returns as the Lions' top scoring threat in a Northwest Conference loaded with teams vying for the league crown. And while Lynden may not have the horses to compete with the likes of Lynden Christian and defending champion Ferndale for the NWC title, Somers' ability to raise the level of those around her will make Lynden a tough team night in and night out.
What makes Somers so special, Adams said, is the infectious mentality she employs as a leader on a team rife with potential but short in experience.
"She would trade every stat, every made basket, everything nice (said) about her to get a win for her teammates," Adams said.
It's a learned trait, stepping back and being a staple for the younger players to ask for guidance. Somers, who has come to relish her role as leader on the team, said she is often approached by the underclassmen who seek her knowledge about both the game of basketball and the recruitment process she went through.
She offers it willingly because at one time, she too was asking the older players the very same questions.
"Girls I looked at in the past used their actions and not their words ... and if I can be that way, people will follow my lead," Somers said in a phone interview.
It would be easy for Somers to cast aside the need for her to be a team leader. After all, she's already signed her letter of intent, securing her future. The only thing is she doesn't subscribe to that school of thought, making the tacit decision to commit to Idaho State before the season began to play minus any distractions or drama.
But it doesn't take long to realize why the Bengals' coach, Seton Sobolewski, wanted Somers in his program.
"There were seven or eight games (last year) where she was only one or two assists or one or two rebounds away from recording triple-doubles," Adams said. "She's not playing for stats. All the things she does collectively when you leave the gym, you don't really appreciate how hard or how well she played until you stat it out and she had a monster game."
Somers chalked her well-rounded game up to playing nearly every position growing up. Her height, standing a strong 5-feet-11, has often dictated her to play down in the post and bang against bigger bodies. As she developed in various AAU programs, though, she found herself running the point one possession, playing the shooting guard another, all while being tasked with defending the opposing teams top scoring threat.
All of that combined has made her a nightmare to cover for opposing teams.
"It has helped me a lot with my game because it definitely gives you a different view," Somers said.
In particular, when she's been tasked to run the point, she said the pressure of being the primary ball handler was nerve-wracking at first. Now, Adams said, she brings the ball up court and dictates the offense, although her primary position is as a wing that can hit 3-pointers while also being a threat off the dribble.
For Somers, everything boils down to one thing as she spoke anxiously awaiting taking the court for the first time in her senior season: "It's really fun to kind of beat up on someone who is not your teammate. In practice, you want to go all out with the others in the post, but you don't want to do too much."
Come Monday, Dec. 9, against Anacortes, she'll get her chance.
Reach Alex Bigelow at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports news.