Talk about your Saturday special. All seven Whatcom County basketball teams that advanced to the regional round of their respective state tournaments will play on Saturday, March 1, according to the schedule released on Sunday, Feb. 23.
Games also could have been played on Friday, Feb. 28, under the WIAA's new regional seeding format, but no local teams were slotted for that day.
Folks in Lynden certainly should find the new format to their liking, as the Lynden boys' and girls' teams and the Lynden Christian girls all will be playing on the same court on the same day and will even have a little break for an early dinner in between.
Lynden Christian will get things started off at noon at Mount Vernon High School. They'll be followed by back-to-back regionals for the Lynden girls at 6 p.m. and the Lions boys at 8 p.m.
The Lyncs (21-3) enter as a No. 1 seed after winning the Class 1A District 1/2/3 Tournament title with their impressive victory over Cascade Christian on Saturday, Feb. 22, allowing LC to stay close to home when they face Freeman, the No. 4 seed out of District 6/7.
The Scotties may be familiar to Lyncs fans who watched them beat LC 37-36 in a classic 1A state semifinal last year one game before Freeman saw its string of two-straight state championships end with a loss to Okanogan in the title game. This year, Freeman (18-7) won the 1A Northeast League title but had to work its way through the consolation bracket of the District 6/7 Tournament after a first-round loss to Okanogan and then lost again 63-51 to the Bulldogs in Saturday's third-place game.
As champions of the Class 2A District 1/2 Girls' Tournament with a Friday, Feb. 21, win over Burlington-Edison, Lynden (17-6) earned the right to play Olympic, the No. 5 seed out of District 3. The Trojans (16-8) finished third in the 2A/1A Olympic League and earned their fourth-straight trip to the regional round with a 43-40 victory over Kingston on Saturday, Feb. 22, in the fifth-place game of the District 3 Tournament.
The 19-3 Lions boys, who also won a bi-district title with their come-from-behind win over Lake Washington on Saturday, now also get to face the No. 5 seed out of District 3, which just happens to be a familiar foe. This will be the third-straight year that Lynden and Sumner have met in the boys' 2A regionals. The Lions won the first two by a 66-55 count in 2012 and 58-39 last year, and if you're counting, Lynden also has a pair of football state quarterfinal victories over the Spartans the past two seasons.
This year Sumner (18-8) enters having won the 2A/3A South Puget Sound League title but had to beat Clover Park 42-38 in the fifth-place game of the District 3 Tournament to advance.
While the three Lynden teams will be staying close to Whatcom County, the other four county teams to earn trips to regionals will have to travel south.
The 17-7 Sehome boys, who made it out of district for the first time since 2008, will face District 4 top seed Mark Morris in a 4 p.m. game on Saturday at Chehalis W.F. West. The Monarchs (18-5) won the 2A Greater St. Helens League title before rolling through the District 4 Tournament with three-straight wins by double figures, including a 62-50 win over Hockinson in Friday's district title game.
The Bellingham and Blaine girls' teams also have to face the top seeds out of District 4 in their respective state tournaments.
The Red Raiders (13-11), who qualified for their first trip to the state's Sweet 16 since 2009, will face W.F West, which advanced to last year's 2A state title game, in a 2 p.m. showdown Saturday at Tumwater. This year the Bearcats (21-2) rolled through the 2A Evergreen League without a conference loss before walloping their first two opponents in the District 4 tournament by a combined 77 points and topping defending state champion Mark Morris 53-47 in Friday's title game.
As the No. 5 seed out of the 1A District 1/2/3 Tournament, the Borderites (19-7) also will face the best the southwest corner of the state has to offer when it takes on top-seeded Woodland in a 6 p.m. game on Saturday at Mark Morris. While Blaine is back in the Sweet 16 after a one-year absence, the unbeaten Beavers (22-0) return after a regional-round exit last year. After winning the 1A Trico League title, Woodland ended up squeaking past Montesano 38-35 in Friday's district title game.
Following Saturday's win in the third-place game of the girls' 3A Northwest District Tournament, Ferndale (19-5) makes its fourth overall trip to the state's round of 16 and its first since 2009. The Golden Eagles travel to face District 3/4 No. 4 seed Woodrow Wilson out of Tacoma in a 2 p.m. game on Saturday at Mount Tahoma. The Rams (17-5), who finished third in last year's state tournament, won the 3A Narrows League title this year, but fell 63-42 to Prairie in Saturday's district title game.
The WIAA changed the way it assigned where regional games will be played this year in an effort to work with the boys' and girls' basketball coaches association to address some concerns under the previous system, such as prohibiting teams from playing on their home floor in the regional round, minimizing travel for true No. 1 seeds and allowing teams from the same school to play back-to-back games at the same site when possible, such as Lynden is doing this year. Instead of locking qualifying teams into specific sites based on their seed, the WIAA chose approved sites and then slotted the teams that qualified accordingly.
Saturday's regional action at Mount Vernon also will included a 2A girls' game between Burlington-Edison and Port Angeles at 2 p.m. and a 1B girls' match-up between Mount Vernon Christian and Waterville at 4 p.m. The Anacortes boys will travel to Auburn to face Fife in a 2A regional at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
All regional games are single-elimination and will send the 2A and 1A winners on to the SunDome in Yakima, while 3A winners will head to the Tacoma Dome.
ALL GAMES WILL BE PLAYED SATURDAY, MARCH 1
CLASS 2A BOYS
Lynden (19-3) vs. Sumner (18-8), 8 p.m. at Mount Vernon
Sehome (17-7) vs. Mark Morris (18-5), 4 p.m. at Chehalis W.F. West
CLASS 3A GIRLS
Ferndale (19-5) vs. Woodrow Wilson (17-5), 2 p.m. at Mount Tahoma
CLASS 2A GIRLS
Lynden (17-6) vs. Olympic (16-8), 6 p.m. at Mount Vernon
Bellingham (13-11) vs. Chehalis W.F. West (21-2), 2 p.m. at Tumwater
CLASS 1A GIRLS
Lynden Christian (21-3) vs. Freeman (18-7), noon at Mount Vernon
Blaine (19-7) vs. Woodland (22-0), 6 p.m. at Mark Morris
Reach David Rasbach at 360-715-2271 or email@example.com .