The first “Bellinghome Battle” rivalry game was an exceptionally spirited event in the stands and on the court, just waiting for a hero to emerge after one quarter.
Bellingham and Sehome combined for 32 points in the first eight minutes, but it took 12 players to produce them.
Sehome sophomore Eddy Hochsprung, a 6-foot-3 sophomore with smooth spin moves around the basket, was the only starter on either team not to score in the first period. But that didn’t discourage him.
Hochsprung, who plays well over 100 games a year in high school and AAU hoops, came through with 20 points and 11 rebounds for his first high school double-double in Sehome’s 66-65 Northwest Conference win Friday at Sehome.
“It really was a great team game,” said Hochsprung, and so it was. Every starter for both teams played a significant role as the Mariners (10-7 overall, 6-4 NWC) pulled into a tie for third with the Red Raiders (12-5, 6-4) in the eight-team Class 2A part of the 14-team NWC, with both teams headed for district play next month.
To add spice to the half-century-old rivalry, school officials gave the annual league match-up a name and both schools were judged and rated for fan support, cheerleader performance, skits and dancing, drum lines and just good old-fashioned spirit.
Both schools performed admirably in the spirit department on the packed student side, where enthusiasm seemed in unlimited supply.
All the starters and several reserves responded well to the loud, obviously spirited atmosphere. Sehome seniors JaKobe Woodfork and Logan Deboo had 12 and 10 points, respectively, and Logan Lyall, Marcus Montag, Austin Roberts and Jaren Tilley combined to score 22. Mike Mindnich, a sophomore guard, contributed a big first-quarter basket.
For Bellingham, dynamic sophomore guard Spencer Lee had perhaps his finest effort, finishing with 22 points including 13 in the fourth quarter as the Red Raiders scored the game’s final eight points, with the last basket a 3-pointer by sophomore Drew McFall after his steal, followed by Caden Mee’s free throw with 41 seconds left. But Sehome milked the clock before missing a couple of late shots, and Bellingham could not get off a good last shot after gaining possession with four seconds remaining.
Jonny Larson endured 1 for 7 shooting in the first half, but boosted Bellingham with 14 third-quarter points, including three 3-pointers, to finish 5 for 7 shooting in that period and 16 points in all. Mee, who may have played harder than anyone, and Rits Voeut scored 10 apiece.
A FURIOUS RALLY
After Hochsprung’s 10 second-quarter points gave Sehome a 34-30 halftime lead, he finished with a career-high 11 rebounds and tied his best with 20 points via 7 for 11 shooting from the field and 6 for 7 from the line. Hochsprung’s second steal and layup of the second half put Sehome up 58-53, and was followed soon by Woodfork’s key 3-pointer, a drive by Roberts and Woodfork’s 3-point play with 2:21 to play.
Bellingham, though, scored on two Lee drives, McFall’s late 3-pointer and Mee’s free throw to pull within the final margin.
“I thought it was a great game effort, in fact a solid team effort for both teams,” Sehome coach Steve Call said. “Eddy gave us a phenomenal effort and it started for him with his defense. He had a complete game.”