By Oliver Lazenby
Blaine varsity basketball is hoping to build on last year’s success, but it won’t resemble last year’s Borderites in terms of playing style.
Blaine lost seven seniors – roughly 75 percent of the team’s offensive production – including its three tallest players. At 6’5″ and 275 pounds, Shaq Woods was key to Blaine reaching the district playoffs last year, averaging 17.5 points per game.
This year the Borderites are shorter and smaller, with no one higher than 6’1″. They’re no longer tall enough to just pitch the ball inside and hope for a point, said head coach Shaun Pile. What they lack in height, the team will have to make up in quickness and effort.
“It’s just a completely different style that we’re playing this year. It’s going to be a lot more up-tempo,” Pile said. “If you’re playing against bigger guys you have to outrun them, tire them out, not let them slow down the game and pound you inside.”
That style starts on defense. Pile called his team defensive-minded and hardworking, but said to be successful they’ll need to all play together to create a high-pressure team
“It’s a scrappy group and as a coach you love that, because you know they’re going to bring that effort every single night and you know they’re going to fight,” Pile said. “It’s a good mix of kids. They’re hard-nosed and hardworking.”
Returning varsity players Jalen Kortlever, Anthony Ball, Michael Baldwin and Ben Adams will lead the reshaped team. Seniors Ball and Kortlever have played at the varsity level since their freshmen year, and sophomore Ben Adams had playmaking duties last year as starting point guard and averaged about 10 points per game, Pile said.
In all, the team has five seniors, one junior and four sophomores.
“The balance isn’t ideal, but we’ve got enough seniors and sophomores that can contribute this year that we should be making a playoff push again,” Pile said.
The Borderites first game is Tuesday, November 29 at Coupeville. The first home game is December 13 against Mount Baker.