By Ian Ferguson
For the first time in four years, the Blaine boys basketball team is headed to the postseason.
The Borderites earned a spot in the 2A district tournament with a win at Nooksack Valley February 4. Blaine won the hard-fought Northwest Conference (NWC) game 61–57.
“This is an exciting time to be a Blaine Borderite,” said head coach Shaun Pile. “The kids have put in the work all season and they’ve done a great job of winning the games that are must-win. All the experience they have built up over the last couple of years is starting to pay off.”
The Nooksack Valley game was close throughout, with several lead changes in the first and fourth quarters. The Pioneers held a slight lead for most of the game, until six minutes into the fourth quarter when the Borderites pulled ahead.
Kier Munzanreder took control of the game with strong drives to the basket and razor sharp free throw shooting (nine of 11 from the free throw line). As the clock wound down, point guard Ben Adams scored a three-point shot and Marcus Potts hit two free throws to give the Borderites the win.
“They couldn’t stop Kier (Munzanreder) driving to the hole,” Pile said. “Our guys did a great job of recognizing who had the advantage, getting that person the ball and then beating their coverage to make baskets.”
Munzanreder led the Borderites with 22 points and seven rebounds. Adams scored 15 points. Shaq Woods had 11 points and nine rebounds. Jalen Kortlever scored six points, and Potts had four points and six rebounds.
The win boosted the Borderites to a 5–7 record in the NWC and 10–10 overall, good enough for eighth seed among 2A schools in the district. The Borderites beat out their NWC opponents Sehome, Burlington-Edison, Sedro-Woolley, Nooksack Valley, Meridian and Bellingham to earn the spot, with only Lynden, Anacortes and Squalicum posting better season records.
Blaine reached the postseason as a 1A team during the 2011/12 season, but it has been at least a decade since the team reached the tournament as a 2A team. It is also the first time in four years the Borderites have posted an even-or-better regular season record.
As the eighth seed, Blaine faces a challenging road through the district tournament. The Borderites will kick off the two-loss elimination tournament with a game against number-one seed Lynden (11–1 NWC, 19–1 overall). The game is at Lynden on Saturday, February 13 at 7 p.m.
“Lynden is playing really well right now, and they have some outstanding players. I think we match up well with them. If we can control the tempo like we did against Nooksack Valley, we have a good chance,” Pile said.
If the Borderites don’t beat Lynden, they will play the loser of a game between Cedarcrest and Shorecrest, both teams in the Cascade Conference. Pile said he likes his team’s chances in that matchup.
“Cedarcrest went one and one with Granite Falls, who we beat earlier in the season, so we match up well with them. So even if we don’t beat Lynden, our side of the bracket is a good place to be,” Pile said.