Wow, it has been a battle for the Northwest Conference title. Lynden Christian has been able to hold on to the top spot, parrying an effort from Lynden. The Lyncs get Ferndale on Tuesday, in what will likely decide the NWC title — that is unless Lynden knocks off Ferndale on Friday, Jan. 30, which is a real possibility. Meanwhile, the 1A playoff picture continues to be a mess. Nooksack Valley and Meridian both sit at 4-5 while Mount Baker sits at 3-5. Meridian and Mount Baker meet Saturday in a huge game. The NWC has shown no night is easy in this conference.
1. Ferndale (16-1, 8-1 NWC) - The Golden Eagles showed against Blaine why I have them ranked as No. 1 — depth. Ferndale has the star power in Abby Reid and Linsey Honeycutt but has six seniors and a cast of players that know what it takes to win. From Carly Bannerman to Gabrielle Edison this team is loaded with contributors and that makes them tough to stop. Last week’s ranking: 1
2. Lynden Christian (13-3, 8-0) - The Lyncs can prove me wrong for ranking them No. 2 for most of the year with a win on Tuesday over Ferndale. If Kara Bajema’s shot is on and Sara Dougan can limit Linsey Honeycutt’s rebounding, the Lyncs can do it. It may come down to who’s able to control the tempo better between Makayla Lancaster and Abby Reid. Last week: 2
3. Burlington-Edison (14-3, 7-2) - This is really a toss-up between the Tigers and Lions. I have to give the edge to Burlington-Edison because of its double overtime win last week but as double overtime showed it could go either way. Last week: 4
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4. Lynden (10-6, 6-2) - After starting off 6-0 in conference, the Lions lost two games in a row by a combined five points. Five points separates Lynden from a second-place 2A finish and the NWC title. That’s a tough pill to swallow. Last week: 3
5. Blaine (7-10, 6-3) - With a fully healthy Taylor V’Dovec this team really could have had a special season. She’s slowly getting better and better and makes that offense really click. Against Ferndale, the Borderites just ran out of gas but don’t be surprised to see this team make a push toward state. Last week: 5
6. Squalicum (9-8, 4-5) - Take away the loss to Sehome and this team’s last few weeks looks mighty impressive. Wins over Nooksack Valley and Anacortes were huge. This team can score from anywhere on the court — five different players have scored in double digits this year. Last week: 8
7. Anacortes (10-8, 4-6) - After three straight losses, the Seahawks pulled off two straight wins. This has been an up-and-down team this year but with Sehome and Sedro-Woolley in their last two games, .500 is entirely possible. Last week: 10
8. Mount Baker (9-7, 3-5) - The Mountaineers absolutely cruised against Nooksack Valley last Friday. Emily Yost and Emily Brandland are both clicking again. A win against Meridian would put this team in playoff position. Watch out, Mount Baker is coming. Last week: 9
9. Nooksack Valley (11-6, 4-5) - Losses to Mount Baker and Anacortes hurt but a 25-point win over Meridian gives this team an advantage over the Trojans to make the playoffs. Still, Lynden Christian and Blaine are tough wins and the Pioneers could finish 5-7, which isn’t a lock for the playoffs. Last week: 7
10. Meridian (9-8, 4-5) - It’s all come undone for the Trojans. Four straight losses, all coming by more than 20 points. Ryley Zapien is back and they can right the ship against Mount Baker on Saturday. A 6-6 finish isn’t out of reach and that could likely secure a playoff spot. But the Trojans need to fix whatever’s gone wrong quickly. Last week: 6
11. Sehome (5-12, 2-7) - My hat’s off to Kim Kirk and Sehome this season. In the past four games, the Mariners have two wins and played Blaine and Burlington-Edison close. The Borderites and Tigers aren’t easy competition by any means and the Mariners competed. Lynden, Anacortes and Bellingham are the Mariners’ final three games and I expect Sehome to get at least one win there, if not two. Last week: 11
12. Bellingham (4-12, 1-7) - A win over Sedro-Woolley on Monday put an end to a five-game losing streak. The Red Raiders can finish out the season strong with three games against below-.500 opponents. Last week: 12
13. Sedro-Woolley (1-16, 0-9) - It’s been a tough year for the Cubs but Mikayela Nutting has been a bright spot. She’s had double digits in her past three games, including a 29-point effort against Squalicum. Last week: 13