Payton Linville didn’t have to cry with happiness for performing at her peak in a senior all-star game surrounded by six All-Northwest Conference teammates.
The unheralded Linville already had done her “bawling for joy” several months earlier, when she learned she had received clearance to return to Nooksack Valley’s girls’ basketball team.
“The chance to play for Nooksack with my lifelong friends meant every thing,” Linville said.
She scored a career-high 13 points on 5 for 8 shooting, including three second-half 3-pointers, to help the County beat the City 81-39 in the 29th annual Boys and Girls Clubs of Whatcom County Classic on Friday, March 13, at Jake Maberry Gym.
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“I’m really grateful to have had this opportunity,” said Linville, who spent her junior year in Redmond following a family move before returning to the school and teammates she has long loved.
Linville said she felt comfortable playing with so much talent and proved she belonged in the mix.
“I was especially impressed with Taylor V’Dovec,” she said of the four-year Blaine standout. “She’s a great team player.”
Lynden’s Kaitlyn Mark received Most Valuable Player honors for her solid sportsmanship and 13 points. She shot 5 for 8 for 13 points, with three of the County girls’ dozen 3-pointers.
Blaine’s Mandy Hayes scored 14 points via 5 for 7 accuracy with four 3-pointers. V’Dovec scored 11 points and Nooksack point guard Mariah Perry shot 4 for 5 for 8 points.
Lynden Christian’s Sara Dougan — who won the girls’ 3-point shooting contest with 7 in a 30-second span — had 7 points along with Blaine’s Breanna Chau and Mount Baker’s Emily Yost in a nicely balanced effort. Lynden’s Mandy Warner and LC’s Makayla Lancaster contributed with solid floor play at guard.
Ferndale’s Linsey Honeycutt and Bellingham’s Joelle Zamora paced the City girls with 19 and 16 points, respectively. Zamora made four 3-pointers, including 3 of her first 4 attempts in the opening quarter.
The four hours of hoop festivities, which ended shortly before 10 p.m., were highlighted by the boys’ dunk contest, which took four rounds to decide after being judged most enthusiastically by Ferndale’s Michael Koenen and Jake Locker, co-owners of new community fitness facility The Locker Room.
Lynden’s Scooter Hastings could not play in the County boys’ 88-85 loss to the City team, but more than made up for that by scoring 79 of a possible 80 points in a four-round dunk-fest. Hastings narrowly beat LC’s Daulton Hommes, who was a student-assistant while sitting out the season with an injury.
Both players turned in stylish dunks, along with the other contestants, Meridian’s Alex Martin and Bellingham’s Logan Schilder.
“I was very worried (about the competition),” Hastings said. “I had to go on pure adrenaline.”
Mount Baker sharpshooter Colton Ranson, to no one’s surprise, won the boys’ 3-point contest with 10, one more than Nooksack’s Josh Gimmaka and two more than Hommes and and Sehome’s Tanner Clark.
The City’s winning margin came from a late drive by Bellingham’s Kalien Hayes with 20 seconds left for an 86-83 lead. Martin, who had a game-high 25 points, made two County free throws with 11.8 seconds remaining, but Sehome’s Leif Anderson had two free throws with 7.6 seconds left for the game’s final points.
For the City, the 7-foot Schilder had 17 points, including a nifty dunk, and Anderson had 18 points with three 3-pointers. Bellingham’s Dante Check scored 11 and Clark and Hayes had points apiece. Squalicum’s Harper Moore and Chris Paz, Ferndale’s Malik Ivory, Dante Kelly and Brady Shearer, and Sehome’s Langtston Engle contributed more than enough points and hustle.
Gimmaka scored 17 points to support Martin’s 25 for the County. Lynden’s Jonathan Whetnall had 11, with three 3-pointers, and Cody Fransen scored nine. Lummi’s Austin Brockie and Dean Williams, LC’s Blake Mellema and Jake Van Berkum, Mount Baker’s Ranson and Meridian’s Kyle Young also contributed, with Young scoring 7 points.
In the girls’ game, Bellingham’s Lissette Meza, Meridian’s Janessa Murphy and Sydney Swanson, Squalicum’s Bailey Molnar and Sydney Arndorfer, and Ferndale’s Carly Bannerman and Shelby Slaughter also contributed for the City.