Sterling Somers’ basketball success could have been forecast years before arriving at Lynden High School.
He was born into the sport in a basketball-crazed town and had one of the best mentors a young player could request.
“I was shooting hoops when I was born, I think, in my crib probably,” Somers joked.
Soon after he was getting tips from his grandfather, Bob Kildall, who was an all-state player for Lynden and led the Lions to their first basketball championship in 1961 before adding a second in 1962.
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Kildall is responsible for teaching Somers his signature dropstep move.
“He’d always tell me, ‘Use a little elbow, but not too much so the refs don’t call it,” Somers said. “That is the first move. We’d always go in my grandma’s driveway, and he’d show me some moves. We started doing some normal layups, and he’d swat the crap out of me, but he said, ‘You have to find new ways to score, because I’ll just keep swatting it.’ I learned a lot from that.”
Somers’ basketball repertoire was completely displayed this winter.
18.9 Sterling Somers’ scoring average during 2015-16 season
The 6-foot-5 senior guard/forward averaged 18.9 points per game, helped Lynden earn a share of the Northwest Conference title and guided the Lions to a 25-3 record and a third-place finish at the Class 2A State Tournament. He was a first-team All-NWC selection and shared the WIBCA’s 2A Mr. Basketball honor with Clarkston’s Trevon Allen.
Somers has been selected The Bellingham Herald’s All-Whatcom County Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year, and Lynden coach Brian Roper has been selected Coach of the Year.
Team success has followed Somers during his high school athletics career.
Playing quarterback he won a football state championship his sophomore season and reached state title games as a sophomore in basketball and in football as a junior.
But, heading into his final sports season at Lynden, Somers was coming off disappointing years in football and basketball in terms of the lofty expectations generated by the two powerhouse programs. His teams failed to reach Yakima as a junior in basketball and didn’t make state as a senior in football.
This past winter offered Somers a final chance to go out a winner.
“That’s all I wanted. I wanted to win another state championship,” Somers said. “It is what it is, but it was nice to go out with a win and get third place. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a successful year. This was probably the most fun I’ve had with a team.”
The season’s end — a 54-52 third-place win over Tumwater in the Yakima Valley SunDome — most likely would have felt differently if it wasn’t for Somers’ heroics.
He finished with 28 points, six steals and scored eight of Lynden’s final eight points, including two crucial 3s. His brightest moment came when the Lions were trailing 52-50 in the final seconds.
Somers one-on-one dribbled to his right, pulled up confidently just beyond the 3-point arc and drilled a 3-pointer for the game-winning score.
That’s all I wanted. I wanted to win another state championship. It is what it is, but it was nice to go out with a win and get third place. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a successful year. This was probably the most fun I’ve had with a team.
Lynden senior Sterling Somers
“I think we were just cold, and we were looking for a spark,” Somers said. “And then hitting that last shot, that was a fun moment for me, and being bale to come out and get a win.”
The clutch shot epitomized Somers’ importance to his young squad that included three freshmen. While he seemed to always get his points, he often filled up the stat sheet in several categories. Never was that more evident than when Somers finished with 14 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds during a win against Ferndale.
Certainly those type of numbers will be appealing to Seattle Pacific University coach Ryan Looney when Somers begins the next chapter of his basketball career next year in Seattle.
All-Whatcom County Players of the Year
The Bellingham Herald is proud to honor the student-athletes of the winter sports season for an 11th straight year. Here is a look back at the winners of the All-Whatcom County Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year award:
2005-06: Kyle Coston, Lynden Christian
2006-07: Chris Bolt, Lynden
2007-08: Nick Stackhouse, Squalicum
2008-09: Keith Stackhouse, Squalicum
2009-10: Derek Dickerson, Squalicum
2010-11: Kyle Impero, Nooksack Valley
2011-12: Isaac Reimer, Lynden Christian
2012-13: Isaac Reimer, Lynden Christian
2013-14: Scott Hastings, Lynden
2014-15: Cody Fransen, Lynden Christian
2015-16: Sterling Somers, Lynden