By Ian Ferguson
The boys basketball team nearly squandered an 11-point lead, but held on to win their second conference game of the season against the Bellingham Red Raiders.
The final score of the January 19 Northwest Conference game was 68–66. The Borderites played a high intensity, back-and-forth game with good ball movement and solid defense, building a comfortable lead through the three quarters. Big man Shaq Woods was an unstoppable force under the basket, scoring 28 points for Blaine, 12 of which came in the third quarter.
With only 1:30 left to play in the fourth, Blaine was ahead by 11 points, but that’s when the Raiders turned up the pressure. Using a tenacious full-court press, the Raiders forced three turnovers in a row and quickly cut Blaine’s lead to two points. Despite a missed foul shot in the final seconds, Blaine held onto the lead for the win.
“We got the win, but it wasn’t pretty,” Blaine head coach Shaun Pile said. “We made it tougher on ourselves than it needed to be by letting the lead slip away at the end. We couldn’t handle the intensity when they turned it up.”
Woods notched 28 points and 15 rebounds, for his fifth double-double of the season. “He couldn’t be stopped,” Pile said.
Kier Munzanreder scored 16 points and Carson Knutzen scored nine.
The win at Bellingham followed a non-conference win January 16 at home versus Nathan Hale, a Seattle-areas school near Seattle. The game went into overtime after an exciting fourth quarter.
Blaine tied the game at 64 points with less than two minutes to play, and a series of near misses on both sides sent the game into overtime. In overtime, Blaine outscored Nathan Hale 13–7, for a final score of 77–71.
“They had a good man-to-man full court press, and they forced a lot of turnovers, which hurt us,” Pile said. “We were able to pull it together in overtime. It was a good all around team game with balanced scoring.”
The win against Nathan Hale came one day after the Borderites lost a conference game to Anacortes 74–59.
“The team did a great job of bouncing back from a tough loss,” Pile said.
The Borderites are now 3–4 in conference and 8–7 overall. If they can beat Sehome in their next game, the Borderites have a good shot at clinching the fourth seed for the District Tournament.
“The Sehome game is probably our most important game of the season,” Pile said.
Sehome is 2–4 in conference and 4–10 overall. The game against Sehome will be played at Blaine this Friday, January 22. It is the “Coaches Vs. Cancer” game, and funds will be raised for cancer research. The game begins at 7:30 p.m.