By Ian Ferguson
The Borderites knew they were in for a physical game against Ferndale.
The 3A Golden Eagles have a reputation for athletic, fast-paced games, but a January 27 game at Ferndale was “one of the most physical games I’ve ever seen,” said Blaine head coach Ryan Pike. “[Ferndale] battled hard and we tried to match it. At times it looked like a football game.”
Blaine lost the NWC matchup 54–44. Ultimately, it wasn’t physicality that won the game for Ferndale, but composure under pressure and strong rebounding skills, Pike said.
“They finished some shots that we couldn’t, and they got us in rebounding,” he said.
In addition to pressing full court throughout most of the game, Ferndale switched up its defense from man-to-man to zone as soon as the Blaine offense called a play. The switch seemed to cause some confusion for the Borderites early on, but Pike said his team adapted well.
“Our scoring was consistent and we kept it pretty close throughout,” he said.
Mandy Hayes led the Borderites with 15 points, nine of which came in the form of three-pointers. Taylor V’Dovec scored 14 points and hauled in nine rebounds. Breanna Chau scored seven points.
Ferndale outscored Blaine 13–10 in the first quarter, and the Golden Eagles maintained a three-point lead with little variation to the end of the third quarter, when the score was 36–33. That’s when Ferndale started to pull away.
“In the fourth quarter they hit some huge shots. We would get a good spree on offense, and then they would hit a big shot that shut us down. That happened repeatedly, and it’s tough to battle back from that,” Pike said.
On defense, Blaine tried a mix of zone and man-to-man.
“We lost some players in coverage here and there, but overall I think our defense had a lot of success, especially in the first half,” Pike said.
The game’s takeaway for Pike was a lesson in the importance of an aggressive, determined mindset.
“I think we have to show more determination. When the ball is in the air, sometimes we’re deciding it’s just out of reach when we could be getting a hand on it. We need to be a little more aggressive, go for those close balls and take control of the game. It’s a mindset,” Pike said.
A fine line exists between playing efficiently and playing aggressively, and the Borderites are close to finding that balance, Pike said. Boxing out opponents to get rebounds is one key skill that will help the team control the game.
“Boxing out was a big part of it tonight. We have to get more rebounds,” Pike said.
The Borderites won a non-conference game against Cascade Christian Schools over the weekend. Blaine had a slow start in the January 24 matchup, scoring just two points and allowing 11 in the first quarter, but the Borderites came back to win the away game 54–37.
“We started pressing, making steals and scoring on fast breaks. Our defense held them really well, especially in the second quarter,” Pike said. “Cascade Christian is fifth in 1A, so it was a good game for us.”
With the win at Cascade Christian and the loss at Ferndale, the Borderites are 6–3 in the NWC and 7–10 overall. The Borderites’ record puts the team at third place in NWC 2A behind Lynden and Burlington-Edison. Only three games remain in the regular season.
Blaine will next take on the Lynden Christian Lyncs at home on Friday, January 30. The Lyncs are firmly on top of the NWC with an 8–0 record in conference. They defeated Blaine 64–33 when the teams last met in December.
“They’re likely going to press us the whole game; they’re tall and they’re good. We’re going to have to play hard and be mentally prepared for their set plays,” Pike said.
The game begins at 7:15 p.m.