LYNDEN – Two much-needed “new” names from a girls basketball standpoint – one a senior and the other a freshman – have emerged to help give Whatcom County’s two defending state champions a stronger shot at returning to the big show.
Mount Baker senior guard Jordan LaTorre, who was an intense, reliable scout team player last year, enjoyed the game of her life with 11 points and 10 rebounds in the Class 1A Mountaineers’ 49-44 non-league win over Class 2A Lynden (1-1) on Monday.
Faith Baar, a 6-foot freshman, had to wait until about mid-season to make a significant difference when she was called up to the Lions’ state runner-up volleyball team. But her 11 rebounds and eight points against Mount Baker (1-2) showed Baar is ready to contribute right away in basketball.
As usual, Baker junior back court stars Danielle Tyler (game-high 20 points, with seven in the fourth quarter) and Haylee Malone (six points in the second half) were also huge difference makers along with 6-foot senior McKenzie Yost (10 rebounds, 10 points).
For the Lions, returning senior regular Sierra Smith was the most effective shooter for either team with 12 points via 5 for 10 accuracy, with two 3-pointers. The other returning senior starter, Natalie Amos, battled exceptionally hard and finished with eight points and five rebounds.
“I’m really happy for Jordan LaTorre,” Baker coach Kim Preston said of the 5-foot-3½ guard, who has earned a starting role while performing as though she were 5-10. “She contributed an unselfish role for our scout team last season against our stars, but she saw very few varsity minutes. Jordan is a scrappy, unorthodox player who really has a nose for the ball. She’s just all over the place.”
LaTorre said she was over understandable nervousness in the first two games, losses to state 1A contenders Nooksack Valley and Meridian.
“I think it was just me getting my jitters out,” LaTorre said. “This really feels good.”
Preston felt the same way.
“This is special,” the coach said. “I don’t think one of my teams has ever won on this floor as a player (Sehome) or coach.”
A FURIOUS FINISH
Yost broke a 41-all with a drive with 2:55 left. Baar pulled the Lions back within one with a free throw. But a drive by Tyler at the 1:15 mark and three ensuing free throws were more than enough to negate a flying drive to score with 13 seconds left by Lynden sophomore Keylie Hershey.
Malone’s free throw for the game’s final point with 12 seconds left removed any doubt.
Baker sophomore Abby Yost contributed eight rebounds and often tenacious defense. Lynden sophomore Livia Tjoelker – one of six non-seniors to start for both teams combined – helped produce a 35-all tie with six points in the first three quarters.
Hershey had three fouls in the first quarter, including one at the buzzer, and didn’t play again until the second half. But the sophomore displayed solid potential with four rebounds, two assists, two steals and her team’s last hoop.