Taron wins dunk contest


LYNDEN - Seth Taron finally gave Nooksack Valley the bright spot in a long, difficult season for the Pioneers.

Taron defeated Lynden Christian's Logan Carlson in the dunk contest on Friday, March 14, at Jake Mayberry Gymnasium in Lynden as part of the 28th annual Basketball Classic, which is put on Boys and Girls Clubs of Whatcom County.

Taron made it to the final round with Carlson after they both completed both of their dunks. Blake Youtsey and Blake Briones were eliminated in the first round.

Then Taron and Carlson both threw down slams for perfect scores, forcing an overtime round.

They each made their dunks in the overtime round and the judges ruled them as equal quality, forcing a last-chance, one opportunity dunk-off.

Taron went first and went for the two-handed jam, but hit off the iron.

"I tried to get the two-handed dunk down," Taron said. "But I just couldn't get it consistently."

Then Carlson brought out his teammate, Josh Hornstra, and attempted to dunk over him, but missed.

The judges' scores on each missed dunk resulted in a victory for Taron.

"It was nice to finally get a win," Taron said with a laugh.

Taron's Pioneers went winless on the season, and Taron is glad he could end it on a high note.

He then went on to score 12 points for the County team in the boys' senior all-star game.

County would lose the game 85-83, falling just short after being down 25 at the half.

It was a third-quarter run sparked by Lynden's Jalani Phelps, who came in for Baker's Reuben Murashov and scored 12 points in the third, including a few key steals.

"Jalani really showed hustle," Taron said. "It was just a few extra points that really brought us back."

It also helped that City shot 1 for 19 in the third.

Murashov also made his own spark in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 points including a 3 to tie it up.

But Squalicum's Blake Youtsey, who won the game MVP, hit his free throws late to seal the victory.

City got out to such a strong lead in the first because of hot shooting - it shot 50 percent from the field - and hitting 3-pointers - it made 12 in the first half. City was up 61-36 at the half.

Bellingham's Ryan Fox, the 3-point contest winner, didn't even hit a 3 in the first half. Instead, it was Briones, who hit four on his way to 12 points.

But a 26-6 deficit in the third almost doomed City.

It was eerily similar to the girls' all-star game, which happened right before the boys' game.

The City girls took a 40-28 lead into the half, led by the game MVP Ferndale's Hannah Carlson, but fell behind in the third quarter after a 20-7 run by County.

The City team, however, couldn't rally back and County cruised to the 64-52 victory.

"A lot of us haven't played in awhile, so we just got tired," Carlson said. "That's what that was."

Carlson scored a game-high 17 points. On the other side, it was Blaine's Alexis McElwain and Lynden's Ashlyn Morgan who led the way, each scoring 10 points.

The girls' game featured more smiles than steals, as both teams looked to end the season with a fun, entertaining game.

"A lot of us have never played with each other before," Carlson said. "So it was a lot of fun out there."

The easygoing tone was set early in the game when Blaine's Olivia Olason blocked Bellingham's Ashley Spink and then seconds later both scrambled for the ball on the ground.

After the referees called a jump ball, both exchanged a friendly tap on the shoulder and smiles and went on their way.

Before the girls' game started, the Classic got started with the girls' 3-point contest, in which Lynden's Stephanie Somers hit seven 3s to win.

Somers then went on to hit 2 more 3s in the game, on her way to seven points. She also had a game-high five steals and five rebounds, which was tied for a team-high with McElwain and Lynden Christian's Courtney Hollander.

The senior all-star games signal the end of the high school basketball season and the end of many high school basketball careers, including the 20 girls and boys that played at "The Jake" on Friday.

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