Blaine coach Ryan Pike was unwavering in his belief that junior post Taylor V'Dovec was the best player in the Class 1A State Girls' Basketball Championships.
"There's no one better than her," said Pike following the Borderites' 50-37 semifinal loss to King's on Friday, March 7, at the Yakima Valley SunDome in the 2014 Hardwood Classic.
Turns out he's not the only one that holds the 5-foot-11 V'Dovec in such high regard.
V'Dovec was voted the Northwest Conference Most Valuable Player on Tuesday, March 11. She led Blaine to the Class 1A semifinals, averaging 15.5 points per game and anchored a defense that only allowed 40.6 points per contest. V'Dovec scored in double figures 27 times this year, including a season-high 21 against Burlington-Edison on Feb. 7.
Lynden Christian coach Curt De Haan was named coach of the year after guiding the Lyncs to a 25-2 record and a Class 1A state championship.
The All-NWC first team included two Lynden Christian players in senior Courtney Hollander and sophomore Kara Bajema.
Both Bajema and Hollander played instrumental roles as the Lyncs won their 10th state championship in program history, and their first since 2008. Bajema, who was voted the Class 1A state tournament MVP after averaging 15 points per game at the Hardwood Classic, had three consecutive 3-pointers in the late stages of Lynden Christian's semifinal win over Cashmere to help propel them to the title game against King's. Hollander, who is on her way to play at Seattle Pacific next year, picked up the point guard duties after junior three-year starter Makayla Lancaster went down with a knee injury in the Lyncs' quarterfinal game against Granger.
Lynden senior Stephanie Somers and freshman Elisa Kooiman were named to the All-NWC first team, as well. Kooiman, who emerged as the Lions' go-to scorer throughout the season after averaging 14.5 points per game, had a memorable performance in Lynden's comeback win against Port Angeles in the 2A quarterfinals. She scored 24 points - her season high - to cut down a 19-point deficit. Somers, who is on her way to play at Division I Idaho State next year, averaged 13.2 points per game this season, and she scored 19 points for Lynden in the third-place game against Ellensburg.
Ferndale junior Linsey Honeycutt and senior Hannah Carlson represented the Golden Eagles on the first team. Honeycutt was second in the NWC in scoring at 16.3 points per game. Carlson came in at 13.7 a game, playing her best basketball at the end of the season to lift Ferndale to within one game of the 3A state tournament.
Mount Baker's Emily Yost led the NWC in scoring with 21.1 points per game before getting injured late in the season. Her absence was missed greatly in the low post, and she had eight games where she scored at least 20 points.
Burlington-Edison's Tyra Lopez rounded out the first-team selections.
Bellingham's Alyssa Porter, Blaine's Alexis McElwain and Mandy Hayes, Squalicum's Meghan Lowry, Nooksack Valley's Mariah Perry and Burlington-Edison's Edie Breckenridge made up the All-NWC second team.
Reach Alex Bigelow at email@example.com or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.
ALL-NORTHWEST CONFERENCE TEAM
Most Valuable Player
Taylor V'Dovec (Jr., Blaine)
Coach of the Year
Curt De Haan (Lynden Christian)
Linsey Honeycutt (Jr., Ferndale)
Stephanie Somers (Sr., Lynden)
Courtney Hollander (Sr., Lynden Christian)
Kara Bajema (So., Lynden Christian)
Emily Yost (Jr., Mount Baker)
Elisa Kooiman (Fr., Lynden)
Tyra Lopez (So., Burlington-Edison)
Hannah Carlson (Sr., Ferndale)
Alyssa Porter (Sr., Bellingham)
Alexis McElwain (Sr., Blaine)
Meghan Lowry (Sr., Squalicum)
Mandy Hayes (Jr., Blaine)
Edie Breckenridge (So., Burlington-Edison)
Mariah Perry (So., Nooksack Valley)