Consider the slump over.
Since the holiday break, Mount Baker’s Emily Yost has only topped 15 points once.
On Friday, Jan. 23, at Mount Baker High School, Yost returned to early season form, scoring 26 points and hauling in 15 rebounds to lead the Mount Baker’s girls’ basketball team to a 63-45 Northwest Conference win over Nooksack Valley. The win ends a four-game losing streak for the Mountaineers.
Yost, who is averaging 21.1 points per game on the season, went from struggling to on fire in one fell swoop. She hit three 3-pointers from the left side of the key in the second quarter as the Mountaineers scored 27 points in the period to pull to a 39-26 lead.
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“It was really, really nice to do it this game. This is a big conference game for us,” Yost said. “Coach (Brenda) Ellis has been doing a good job of telling me to keep it up, keep working hard and my night will come. I think tonight it was just a relief knowing that I am capable of scoring.”
The breakthrough came from a switch in tactic on the Mountaineers’ end. Instead of playing Yost on the post, where she can get double- and triple-teamed, they slid Yost to the wing and allowed her to penetrate the lane.
It worked exactly the way Ellis intended.
“Emily has been very successful, as a post just on the block and with us getting the ball inside, but it’s not really possible anymore. Teams are triple-teaming her,” Ellis said. “We just decided we were going to make a move. Let’s move because she can handle the ball, she can penetrate, she can do all that stuff.”
It also opened up the game for Emily Brandland and McKenzie Yost. Brandland tallied 16 points and 12 rebounds while McKenzie Yost had 14 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Even though things got going in the second quarter for the Mountaineers, the game started rocky. Nooksack Valley took an 11-4 lead in the first four minutes and ended the first quarter up 17-12.
“I think so much of the game is confidence,” Nooksack Valley coach Shane Wichers said. “We came out and played confident and hit some shots.”
Mariah Perry tallied eight of her team-high 13 points in the first quarter, helped by two 3-pointers in the opening period.
Perry went cold in the second, as did the rest of the Pioneers. After ending the first quarter shooting 6 of 13 from the field, the Pioneers only made four of their 16 shots in the second, including an 0 for 4 second for Perry.
“I think Baker just got really good rhythm going, hit some big shots,” Wichers said. “Confidence breeds confidence so they got rolling and that kind of put us into a little funk.”
Nooksack’s Brianna Turner completed her night with 10 points and a team-high six rebounds.
Nooksack Valley ended the game shooting 17 of 58 (29.3 percent) while Mount Baker shot 23 of 43 (53.5 percent). The Pioneers also got outrebounded 35-22, thanks to a combined 27 rebounds between Brandland and Emily Yost.
“Baker played a great game tonight,” Wicher said. “When you shoot something like 55 percent from the floor it’s hard to beat anybody. So hand it to them. They shot lights out.”
The first conference game pitting two Class 1A teams of the season provided plenty of playoff implications. Both teams moved to 3-4 in conference, although Nooksack Valley holds a 10-6 overall record to Baker’s 9-5.
With only three of the four 1A teams making the postseason, the Northwest Conference will be a battle down the stretch. Meridian (9-6, 4-3 NWC) and Lynden Christian (13-3, 8-0 NWC) sit ahead of both the Pioneers and Mountaineers.
“This game doesn’t affect our future unless we let it affect our future,” Wichers said. “We got to regroup for Meridian on Tuesday, (Jan. 27 in Laurel). We got to come out and get after it and see what happens.”
Baker faces Anacortes on Monday, Jan. 26, on the road, but the Mountaineers know they needed Friday’s win to stay alive in the playoff hunt.
“(This game) was super important. That is a great Nooksack team,” Ellis said. “It says a lot of our girls. They knew it was an important matchup and an important game for us.”
Mount Baker 63, Nooksack Valley 45
Nooksack Valley: Arlissa Oettel 4, Payton Linville 8, Mariah Perry 13, Emelia Gimmaka 6, Olivia Berkan 2, Katrina Gimmaka 0, Brianna Turner 10, Lacey Johnson 2. Totals: 17-58 5-8 45.
Mount Baker: Emily Brandland 16, Summer Millman 3, Kylee Engholm 4, Alyssa Linderman 0, McKenzie Yost 14, Emily Yost 26, Emmy Cline 2, Samantha Jacoby 0. Totals: 23-43 12-17 63.
3-point field goals — Nooksack Valley: 4 (Linville, Perry 2); Mount Baker: 8 (Emily Yost 3). Rebounds — Nooksack Valley: 22 (Turner 6); Mount Baker: 35 (Emily Yost 15). Assists — Nooksack Valley: 7 (Perry 3); Mount Baker: 11 (McKenzie Yost 3). Fouls — Nooksack Valley: 19; Mount Baker: 11. Turnovers — Nooksack Valley: 7; Mount Baker: 15.