High School Basketball

Best team in state history? Sehome 1996 champs to reunite

Sehome raises Jeff Chapman and the state championship trophy after beating Decatur in the Class AAA State Championship Game March 9, 1996, at Key Arena. Chapman set a tournament record with his 3-point shooting accuracy.
Sehome raises Jeff Chapman and the state championship trophy after beating Decatur in the Class AAA State Championship Game March 9, 1996, at Key Arena. Chapman set a tournament record with his 3-point shooting accuracy. The Bellingham Herald

Hall of Fame and former Sehome basketball coach Pat Fitterer, with a state championship trophy in his team’s clutch, heard a line from Mariners standout Ryan Kettman that still resonates with him today.

“He goes, ‘It’s a shame it’s over, because we were ready to go take on the rest of the world,” Fitterer recalled following Sehome’s 81-42 Class 3A State Championship win over Decatur nearly 20 years ago.

Before Squalicum’s back-to-back titles, before Lynden’s, Lynden Christian’s, Nooksack Valley’s and Blaine’s, during the 1996-96 season the Sehome Mariners engineered the most dominant basketball campaign in Whatcom County history and perhaps the best the state’s ever seen.

Constructed from a foundation of talent, unselfishness, coaching innovation and pure team basketball, Sehome became the only team in Washington state history to finish a season 30-0 and only the third team to win 30 games.

The Mariners finished No. 5 in the nation, and the season drew enough buzz among the community former Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen signed an official proclamation announcing March 12, 1996, be labeled “Sehome Mariners Day.”

We were all great friends, and I think no one really cared who got the credit. We just always seemd to make the right play, and it didn’t matter who made it.

Jared Stevenson on what powered team’s success

This winter marks the 20th anniversary of that magical season, and for the first time since the group hoisted the gold ball March 9, 1996, on the Key Arena floor, they’re reuniting.

The team will be honored at halftime of Sehome’s game against Arlington at 7:15 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21. Fitterer, former players and even Arlington’s coach Nick Brown, who 20 years ago was a Sehome assistant, will be present.

“Some of the guys I haven’t seen since high school,” said standout guard Jared Stevenson. “A lot of guys I haven’t seen since college, and it’ll be fun to get back and see everybody again.”

Sehome’s state title was in the works long before many of the players reached high school. Of the Mariners’ starting five — seniors Stevenson (guard), Jeff Chapman (guard), Kettman (guard), Keith Koskela (forward) and Mark Spink (forward) — only Spink hadn’t played with the group since fourth grade.

They were talented. Stevenson, Chapman and Kettman played at Western Washington University and Spink would up at Gonzaga. But the team’s hallmark was its unselfish play.

They set single game, tournament and career assist records and garnered plenty of recognition for their ability to share the basketball.

“(Former Michigan State coach) Jud Heathcote came up to me and said, ‘You’re players are so fun to watch how they’ll come down and somebody will maybe make a mistake but nobody acknowledges it,’” Fitterer recalled of a short conversation he shared with Heathcote, “‘They are all totally positive at all times.’”

Sehome’s ball movement, combined with its immense talent, made the Mariners impossible to stop. Kettman (15.6 points per game), Chapman (14.8), who finished with a game-high 28 points on nine 3s during Sehome’s state championship game, Stevenson (13.2) and Spink (12.7) each averaged double figures.

1220 Sehome bench online
Sehome players, from left, Jeff Chapman, Keith Koskela, Jared Stevenson, Matt Stuff, Josh Turrell, Ryan Kettman and Mark Spink celebrate a win over Mount Vernon Jan. 16, 1996 The Bellingham HErald

The Mariners became a must-see attraction on their way to a 26-0 record before the state tournament.

“One of my favorite parts was having the community behind us,” Stevenson said. “Mostly games were sold out. They’d pull the upper bleachers out at Sehome, which doesn’t happen very often. The first game against Mount Vernon, they were ranked second in state and we were ranked first, and I believe they kind of were turning people away at the door.”

Sehome opened the state tournament with a 54-39 win over Lewis and Clark, followed with a 74-49 win over Redmond and beat Evergreen 82-63 to set up a title game with Decatur.

98 point total of margin of victory during Sehome’s four state tournament games

The Seattle Times wrote an advance story headlined “Quincy vs. The Quest” pitting arguably the best player in the state, Decatur’s Quincy Wilder, against Sehome’s quest to win a state championship.

Kettman always remembered that headline as fitting.

“I remember seeing that after the fact and thought that was a cool title,” Kettman said. “And it was a tell-tale sign of how it went. No one guy was ever able to be as good as we were able to be as a team.”

1995-96 Sehome roster

No.

Player

Ht.

Yr.

10

Josh Turrell

5-11

So.

12

Sean Ryan

6-3

Sr.

14

Jared Stevenson

6-0

Sr.

20

Brady Gustafson

6-1

Sr.

22

Matt Stull

6-2

Jr.

24

Jeff Chapman

6-1

Sr.

30

Kyle Felmley

6-0

Jr.

32

Corbin Stratton

6-2

Jr.

34

Ryan Kettman

6-3

Sr.

40

Justin Pendry

6-4

So.

42

Joey Anderson

6-3

Sr.

44

Keith Koskella

6-5

Sr.

54

Mark Spink

6-7

Sr.

Head coach: Patt Fitterer

Varsity assistant: Monte Walton

Junior varsity: Mike Curl

J.V. assistant: Ski St. Martin

Freshman: Lloyd Aldrich

Freshman assistant: Mark Wright

Manager: Brandon Dura

1995-96 Sehome statistics

AVERAGES PER GAME

Player

G

Pts.

Reb.

Ast.

Stl.

Blk.

Josh Turrell

19

1.3

0.8

0.5

0.8

0.0

Sean Ryan

30

2.5

2.2

0.6

0.8

0.1

Jared Stevenson

30

13.2

2.5

6.2

3.0

0.4

Brady Gustafson

30

5.5

2.3

1.4

1.1

0.1

Matt Stull

17

0.7

0.6

0.4

0.2

0.0

Jeff Chapman

30

14.8

3.0

4.4

3.5

0.0

Kyle Felmley

24

2.2

0.8

0.5

0.7

0.0

Corbin Stratton

21

1.2

0.9

0.4

0.3

0.2

Ryan Kettman

28

15.6

5.7

2.8

2.5

0.5

Justin Pendry

21

1.3

1.1

0.3

0.3

0.0

Joey Anderson

29

2.8

1.6

0.2

0.3

0.0

Keith Koskela

28

8.6

5.6

2.1

1.6

0.8

Mark Spink

30

12.7

8.9

2.2

1.8

2.8

Team

30

78.7

33.9

21.1

15.9

4.7

1995-96 Sehome schedule

Date

Opponent

Result

Nov. 29

at Sammamish

W*

Dec. 1

Kamiak

W 95-42

Dec. 5

Bellingham

W 81-45

Dec. 8

at Mountlake Terrace

W 82-57

Dec. 12

Shorewood

W*

Dec. 15

Edmonds-Woodway

W 88-38

Dec. 19

Mariner

W 93-37

Dec. 22

at Shorecrest

W 73-42

Dec. 27

Victorian Couny (Australia)

W 89-61

Dec. 29

Lynden

W 61-50

Jan. 3

at Cascade

W 85-54

Jan. 5

Snohomish

W 68-47

Jan. 9

at Oak Harbor

W 71-57

Jan. 12

at Marysville-Pilchuck

W 83-44

Jan. 16

Mount Vernon

W 73-55

Jan. 19

at Everett

W*

Jan. 26

at Snohomish

W 95-62

Jan. 30

Oak Harbor

W 79-64

Feb. 2

Marysville-Pilchuck

W 76-57

Feb. 9

at Mount Vernon

W 75-62

Feb. 10

Everett

W*

WESCO TOURNAMENT

Feb. 16

Mountlake Terrace

W 84-32

Feb. 17

Mount Vernon

W 61-49

BI-DISTRICT TOURNAMENT

Feb. 22

Roosevelt

W 100-58

Feb. 24

Mercer Island

W 74-52

March 2

Mount Vernon

W 72-42

AAA STATE TOURNAMENT

March 6

Lewis & Clark

W 54-39

March 7

Redmond

W 74-49

March 8

Vancouver Evergreen

W 82-63

March 9

Decatur

W 81-42

*score not available

Championship game boxscore

Sehome 81, Decatur 42

Sehome

17

16

23

25

81

Decatur

2

17

9

14

42

Sehome: Turrell 0, Ryan 2, Stevenson 4, Gustafson 3, Chapman 28, Felmley 5, Stratton 4, Kettman 19, Pendry 0, Anderson 2, Koskela 5, Spink 9.

Decatur: Bellessa 0, Dawson 2, Brilhante 3, Anderson 0, Stores 0, Wilder 13, Rankin 0, Meyers 2, Morris 6, Schilling 11, Lipscomb 5.

Unbeaten teams in WIAA’s top 3 classes

Year

School

Class*

Record

1926-27

Bothell

4A

23-0

1928-29

Olympic

4A

25-0

1939-40

Everett

4A

29-0

1945-46

Roosevelt

4A

17-0

1956-57

Seattle Lincoln

4A

18-0

1962-63

Blanchet

4A

27-0

1964-65

Yakima Davis

4A

25-0

1968-69

Ingraham

4A

23-0

1970-71

Curtis

3A

24-0

1973-74

Garfield

4A

24-0

1974-75

Cleveland

3A

25-0

1979-80

Garfield

4A

25-0

1991-92

Mount Vernon

3A

27-0

1994-95

Vancouver Evergreen

4A

26-0

1995-96

Sehome

4A

30-0

1996-97

O’Dea

3A

29-0

1998-99

Blaine

2A

26-0

2000-01

Mount Vernon

3A

27-0

2001-02

Grandview

2A

27-0

2003-04

Hoquiam

2A

28-0

2006-07

Ferris

4A

29-0

2007-08

Ferris

4A

29-0

2013-14

Rainier Beach

3A

29-0

*Reflects current classifications

SOURCE: WIAA.com

30-win seasons

in WIAA state history

Year

School

Class*

Record

1924-25

Clarkston

4A

30-1

1967-68

St. John#

2B

30-1

1995-96

Sehome#

4A

30-0

*Reflects current classifications

#Won state title

SOURCE: WIAA.com

Most-lopsided

4A state title games

Year

Winner

Loser

Score

Mar.

1940

Everett

Oakville

64-19

45

1996

Sehome

Decatur

81-42

39

1935

Yakima

Prescott

47-11

36

1931

Stadium

Raymond

53-20

33

2008

Ferris

Federal Way

68-44

24

1923

Walla Walla

Lynden

37-14

23

SOURCE: WIAA.com

Sehome basketball reunion

The Mariners’ 1995-96 undefeated 30-0 state championship team will be honored at halftime of Sehome’s game against Arlington.

When: 7:15 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21

Where: Sehome High School

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