Lummi Nation could not have asked for more from its unbeaten boys’ basketball team.
That’s right, the Blackhawks finished undefeated, as in 27-0.
“That’s the most fun I’ve ever had in my life, the highlight. I’ll be able to tell my children and grandchildren about this,” senior Austin Brockie said.
The Blackhawks scored the Class 1B state championship game’s first 10 points and last 15 points, and they were just as relentless in between against one of the state’s finest small-school programs.
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The result was Lummi’s 54-33 win over Neah Bay before a delirious throng of Blackhawk boosters on Saturday, March 7, at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
Call it the West Side Story, with Lummi earning rave reviews for its first state title.
In fact, seconds after the final buzzer, someone pulled “Lummi State Champ” t-shirts out of a box.
“Keith Tom (a Lummi fan) made those,” said both Brockie and point guard Dean Williams, who could not have been more excited or appreciative.
Since the 1B format was established for the 2006-2007 season, this was the first match-up between teams from the state’s west side. It was Neah Bay’s fourth consecutive top three finish, but Lummi had the honor of becoming the first champion in a nine-season 1B span from the west side.
“We were born ready for this,” Brockie said with a laugh, when asked if the team seemed as prepared as the score showed.
It was a total grinder of a game, with both teams fighting hard on every possession. And every possession seemed important with 5 minutes, 30 seconds to go, after Brockie’s pair of clutch 3-pointers gave the Blackhawks a 39-30 lead.
Neah Bay standout Abraham Venske scored on a drive with 5:30 left, following a free throw by the Red Devils. At 39-33, nobody thought this battle was over.
The Blackhawks, however, turned in the classiest possible response — with defense, offense and sportsmanship — and held Neah Bay to its season low while beating the feisty Red Devils for the third time in as many games this season.
Brockie’s free throw, two baskets by sophomore standout Trazil Lane, and Williams’ two free throws made it 46-33 with 3:23 left.
The loud Lummi fans began their celebration, but the ever-alert Brockie took nothing for granted.
In fact, Brockie made the play of the game when he leaped high out of bounds — as though making an interception against football rival Neah Bay — and knocked the ball back to the equally ever-alert Williams, who raced down court and scored on a 3-pointer off the glass to remove all doubt at 49-33.
As if that wasn’t enough drama for the Lummi faithful, Williams then applied the sharpest possible dagger with a front-court steal and layup for an unbeatable 51-33 advantage with 2:16 left.
It was, pure and simple, a textbook example of how to win a state title — and quite likely the best few minutes of basketball in Lummi history.
“These kids were pure heart and hustle,” said Lummi coach Jerome Toby, in his 11th season. “We knew Neah Bay would be relentless, but so were we. That was an absolutely unbelievable finish.”
Lummi’s starting lineup — seniors Brockie, Williams, Kavarez Lane and Jacob Roberts along with Trazil Lane — had never been to state, in contrast to the state experience of the Red Devils.
No matter — the Blackhawks raced to a 10-0 lead and set the tone for the game with four different players scoring.
Williams, who led Lummi with 14 points including a pair of second-half 3-pointers, scored on a layup off the opening tip. Williams played his best offense of the season with a combined 34 points in the semifinals and finals.
Seconds later, Trazil Lane, who shot 6 for 9 for 12 points, scored on an artistic driving jumper, displaying the wealth of athletic ability the Blackhawks possessed. Brockie then knocked down a free throw and a 3-pointer and Roberts scored on a pass from Trazil Lane for 10-0 less than three minutes into the fray.
After a 3-pointer by Kavarez Lane — giving all five Lummi starters hoops — the Red Devils (20-4) showed they meant business as Venske hit two free throws and reserve Jericho McGimpsey hit one of only two 3-pointers for the Red Devils, who shot only 2 for 25 from long range.
The highly athletic — and unselfish — Lane brothers each scored on drives, putting the Blackhawks ahead for good.
Brockie, who made 11 3-pointers in four games including Lummi’s state regional win, finished with 13 points and matched Trazil Lane with a team-high seven rebounds.
How team-oriented were the Blackhawks? They had assists on 12 of their baskets as they shot 20 for 43, often using a quick four-corner offense.
Perhaps the biggest stat of the game from Lummi’s standpoint, however, were only six turnovers and 11 fouls. The Blackhawks could not have been more poised, considering the circumstances.
Lummi’s defense — which held all three state opponents to their lowest point totals of the season — limited the Red Devils to 12 for 50 shooting and also helped cause 11 turnovers.
“Born ready?” It looks as though the articulate Brockie nailed more than 3-pointers.