The Lopez Island varsity girls’ basketball team was awarded the Mal Walton Varsity Team Sportsmanship Award on Friday, March 21 by the Northwest Board of the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Basketball officials and referees who officiate games in Whatcom, Skagit and Island and San Juan counties.
This award was voted on by the 65 officials who cover the 23 schools in the four counties ranging from 4A, 3A, 2A, 1A, 2B and B leagues. The officials evaluate each game, and at the end of the season, the team with the top score receives the sportsmanship award. The vote takes into account all aspects of sportsmanship from the fans, the players and the coaches.
Over 2000 ballots were cast over the regular season. Lopez received the highest overall score ever (4.4 out of 5). The previous high was 3.8. The Orcas Lady Vikings placed second, a mere .025 of a point behind the Lady Lobos.
The Sportsmanship Award was introduced 25 years ago by the WIAA to reward sportsmanlike behavior in players, coaches and fans. “Both schools should be very proud of this accomplishment,” said Bob Phalan of the Northwest Board of Women’s Officials. “In my opinion, the most important lessons that our students are learning when playing any high school sport are sportsmanship and teamwork. These are the lessons they will carry into their adult lives. The community should be grateful for the leadership and guidance our coaches are providing at every level
“This is quite an honor,” said Lopez Superintendent Bill Evans. “It is a tribute to our girls, the coaches, our school and our fans.”