Yes, the Lummi Blackhawks really were that good defensively.
The voracious Blackhawks — who seemingly can never get enough steals — capped their 54-33 win over Neah Bay for the Class 1B state championship with a prime example of just how relentless they are.
They were the hoop versions of piranha fish, and point guard Dean Williams showed why, along with fellow senior Kavarez Williams, on Saturday, March 7 at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
With Lummi leading 49-33 near the end of a game-ending 15-0 run, Williams made a steal in the front court, raced to the other end and sent the large Lummi crowd into spasms of sheer basketball ecstasy with a lay-up that might as well have been labeled, “We never quit.”
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The Blackhawks gave lovers of defense a Spokane clinic while holding all three opponents to their season lows. In all, Lummi allowed only 121 points against some of the best small-school teams the state could offer while finishing 27-0 with its first state title.
And so much for experience. Lummi’s seven seniors had never made it beyond the state regional round, while Neah Bay earned its fourth top-three finish in a row.
“I think this really was our best defensive game,” said Lummi coach Jerome Toby, whose crew of athletes helped make up for several recent football frustrations against the Red Devils (20-4).
“We weren’t thinking about football, not at all,” Williams said.
In fact, most of the many Lummi-Neah Bay gridiron classics over the years have had more points than this state championship game, although that may be comparing eight-man apples with five-man oranges.
Kavarez Williams had three of Lummi’s nine steals — that alone represented three more turnovers than Lummi’s six miscues — while sophomore brother Trazil Williams relished turning in a game-high three blocked shots.
“Kavarez is a quiet leader,” Toby said of the intense senior.
Kavarez, however, didn’t mind acknowledging that “I constantly pushed our guys” to defensive excellence in practice.
Trazil agreed, saying that what made the season memorable for him was “winning for my brother and, really, for all our guys. We’re mostly cousins or somehow related.”
“We played really well but we just couldn’t get the ball to fall,” said Neah Bay coach Stan Claplanhoo, whose team lost three times to Lummi — the Red Devils’ only other defeat was to Class 2A Sequim.
“Lummi has a really good defense. They’re the best defense we’ve faced,” said the respected coach, whose team hit 80 or more points in all of its first seven games.
Claplanhoo pointed out what a grinder this title game really was.
“Both teams played with good offensive patience,” he said.
Sixth man Willie Jones, one of the team’s seven seniors, showed his defensive focus when he made steals only seconds after entering in both the third and fourth quarters under pressure.
“Well, I figured if I couldn’t score (much), I might as well contribute on defense,” Jones said with a grin.