Nearly halfway through conference play is probably too early to be looking at the playoffs — there’s still plenty of basketball left to be played — but the playoff picture is still starting to form, here’s a brief glimpse.
Class 3A (Ferndale seeded by record)
Ferndale (12-1, 4-1 NWC) - The Golden Eagles are getting in. At 4-1 already and with Linsey Honeycutt, the second-best scorer in the league behind Mount Baker’s Emily Yost, Ferndale is in great position. The Golden Eagles will play their district playoffs with the Wesco Conference so there’s any number of possibilities where they’ll play and who they’ll face but Ferndale can compete with the best of them.
Class 2A (Five teams make districts)
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1. Lynden (8-4, 4-0 NWC) - The Lions are currently in position to grab the No. 1 seed for the district but it will be a battle against Burlington-Edison for the top spot. Lynden has Elisa Kooiman and Kaitlyn Mark forming a great 1-2 punch with some size to back it up. The Lions face Burlington-Edison Tuesday, Jan. 27.
2. Burlington-Edison (10-2, 3-1 NWC) - The Tigers appear pretty set for a playoff spot and after holding tight and pushing Lynden Christian to the brink could very likely wind up with a No. 1. Don’t be surprised if this team knocks off Lynden or a Ferndale to grab a top seed.
3. Blaine (3-9, 3-2 NWC) - The Borderites are very dangerous. After a very rough preseason, the Borderites are 3-2 in conference, hold the 2A No. 3 district seed right now and Taylor V’Dovec is returning in the next two weeks. This team will likely grab a No. 3 or No. 4-seed and could make a move in the postseason.
4. Anacortes (7-5, 1-3 NWC) - Anacortes’ losses in conference haven’t been bad losses (Meridian, Lynden and Burlington-Edison) and with Sedro-Woolley and Sehome still left to play, the Seahawks will likely grab a playoff spot but on the bubble is not a place you want to be in a very tough Northwest Conference.
5. Squalicum (6-7, 1-4 NWC) - The key for the Storm making the playoffs will be keeping the three winless teams winless. Squalicum already held off Bellingham and still have Sehome and Sedro-Woolley left. One slip and the Storm could be sitting out of the playoffs.
Out of playoffs:
6. Bellingham (3-9, 0-4 NWC) - I’m thinking it will be two or three wins needed to make the playoffs. That means the Red Raiders have to start picking up some wins. Sedro-Woolley is on the slate for Monday, Jan. 26, and that’s a must-win for Bellingham. Sehome is another win the Red Raiders can pick up, which comes on the last conference game of the season on Feb. 10.
7. Sehome (3-9, 0-4 NWC) - Much like Bellingham, Sehome has to beat Sedro-Woolley and Bellingham to get in. The Mariners have an advantage the Red Raiders don’t though — they still have Squalicum left on the schedule. With Sehome looking improved every time they step on the court, don’t be surprised to see the Mariners get a win there as well.
8. Sedro-Woolley (1-12, 0-5 NWC) - It’s been a long month for the Cubs after winning the first game of the season. They’re on a 12-game losing streak now and haven’t played a close contest since a nine-point loss to Burlington-Edison on Dec. 11.
Class 1A (Three teams make districts)
1. Lynden Christian (10-3, 5-0 NWC) - The Lyncs will likely take the top spot but one or two poor nights could cost them that opportunity. There’s no doubt, the Lyncs have the most talent from top to bottom in the league but they are young and a nightly struggle in the NWC could wear on them.
2. Meridian (9-4, 4-1 NWC) - This has been a great turnaround story for the Trojans after years of losing seasons. They have a 1 1/2 game lead over Nooksack Valley and Mount Baker after a strong conference start that featured wins over Anacortes, Bellingham, Sehome and Squalicum. The Trojans have benefited from not having to face LC, Ferndale or Burlington-Edison yet but those are their next three contests. This is the test for the Trojans to see if they’re contenders or pretenders.
3. Nooksack Valley (9-3, 2-2 NWC) - The Pioneers two conference losses have been to Lynden and Ferndale and their two conference wins have been over Sedro-Woolley and Sehome so it’s tough to say where Nooksack stands. They do boast a 48-37 non-conference win over Meridian, which should be a confidence booster when the two meet again on Jan. 27.
Out of playoffs:
4. Mount Baker (8-4, 2-2 NWC) - Right now, Baker is on the outside looking in, which is rather shocking considering the Mountaineers have two of the top three scorers in the league. Blaine and Ferndale both got the better of the Mountaineers and with Burlington-Edison and Lynden as the next two contests, the Mountaineers could easily be put into a four-game losing streak. Still, the 1As will come down to how they play each other and Baker has Nooksack Valley on Jan. 23, Meridian on Jan. 31 and Lynden Christian on Feb. 5.