The Lummi National boys’ basketball team celebrated, but not too much.
Several of the unbeaten Blackhawks vowed in a most serious way that they can play better.
If the Blackhawks can finish 27-0, they will win their first state hoops title.
Lummi, with its defense again playing superbly and its pride on visible display, played a magnificent half-court game to beat Seattle Lutheran 66-47 in the Hardwood Classic’s Class 1B semifinals on Friday, March 6, before a delirious crowd of Lummi fans at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
The Blackhawks will face either Neah Bay or Shorewood Christian at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 7.
“Our standards are high. We can play better, a lot better,” said one of Lummi’s leaders, Austin Brockie.
“I do think we have the potential to win it,” said Lummi coach Jerome Toby. “We’re here to win it.”
All of the Blackhawks’ starters turned in some of their most fiery efforts of this most memorable season.
Sophomore forward Trazil Lane had 16 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double in as many pressure-packed nights.
Lummi’s seven seniors all contributed, as usual, led by point guard Dean Williams’ season-high 20 points via 4 for 9 shooting — all 3-pointers, matching his season best — and 8 for 10 free throw shooting, including six in the final two minutes to thwart a rally by Seattle Lutheran (21-7).
Kavarez Williams, who wasn’t satisfied with Lummi’s 54-41 win over Entiat the night before, was a lot happier this time.
Kavarez, who came out with obvious fire in his eyes, scored the game’s first two hoops on drives, with the second off a steal, to set the game’s aggressive tone.
“We did play better tonight,” said Kavarez, who finished with 6 for 8 shooting, 15 points, six rebounds and a game-high five of Lummi’s impressive 11 steals against a quick team. “We got into our offensive rhythm much better.”
The other starter, Joe Roberts, played solid defense and won Lummi’s sportsmanship medallion for this game. Robertws’ free throw with 1:47 left gave Lummi a 56-42 lead and pretty much assured the Blackhawks of the chance to make history.
Lummi’s five previous state appearances in its 11-year hoops history came in 2007-2011, but the Blackhawks’ best showing was a sixth-place trophy.
Toby said he talked with Williams “about giving us another offensive weapon,” and Williams responded with his best offensive game. His last 3-pointer was huge, giving Lummi a 50-29 advantage two minutes into the fourth quarter.
Seattle Lutheran, which was held to its season-scoring low, matching one earlier game, scored 20 points in the fourth quarter with seven baskets, including three 3-pointers, but Lummi never panicked.
“With several guys in foul trouble after three quarters (Lummi finished with 18 fouls), we talked about not allowing penetration but also not fouling on their outside shots,” Toby said.
Toby’s defensive tactic worked perfectly. Even with the big final quarter, Seattle Lutheran finished with only 33 field-goal attempts, with 14 made.
Trazil Lane seemingly could not have played harder while shooting 6 for 14. He, brother Kavarez and Brockie all made a 3-pointer to support Williams’ clutch outside marksmanship.
“He came out on fire,” Trazil said of Kavarez. “We had to fight harder.”
“Yes, Kavarez was just on fire,” Toby echoed his young star.
The crowd gave a standing ovation to junior reserve Jeff Cultee, who took a pass from Williams — following an equally deft pass from the other side of half court by Brockie. Cultee, who played mostly on the junior varsity, scored on a nifty drive to make his one-minute appearance as memorable as possible.
“That was the most fantastic feeling,” said Lummi scorekeeper Tammy Cultee, Jeff’s aunt, who had one of her most memorable moments writing the bucket into the scorebook for a 45-27 lead after three quarters.
The large Lummi throng agreed — they gave Cultee a standing ovation.
It was that kind of night for the Blackhawks. Now they just have to do it all over again and they really can celebrate.