By Oliver Lazenby
Blaine girls varsity basketball overcame a slow first half to beat Coupeville 35–19 in the first game of the season at home on November 29. The non-conference game was a test for the Borderites after last year’s young team finished the season with a 3–17 record.
Ashley Dickerson led the team on offense with 13 points. Josie Deming scored eight points and pulled in eight rebounds. Brynn Hallberg had nine points, and Alexis Hallberg had four steals.
“It was a solid team win,” said Blaine head coach Ryan Pike. “Everyone stepped up and contributed – all nine of them.”
Though the Borderites earned a decisive victory, they trailed for most of the first half, getting down by 11–3 near the beginning of the second quarter. They gave up some points on fast breaks and couldn’t get the ball around Coupeville’s aggressive defense.
“You could see their hands were up at all times, and it’s tough to get passes around and in when all five of them have their hands up wide,” Pike said.
It took a quarter for the Borderites to adapt to the game’s tempo – a faster pace than they can play in practice scrimmages, Pike said. In the second quarter, Blaine made quicker passes, which allowed them to find openings in Coupeville’s defense and get the ball inside.
Sophomore Chloe Archer started a second quarter rally with a jump shot on an assist from Deming – one of the first baskets Blaine made that wasn’t on a breakaway.
Blaine point guard Brynn Hallberg made a three-pointer 30 seconds before halftime to make the score 14–12, with Coupeville still ahead. That set the stage for Blaine’s big second half.
“I knew once we calmed down and got in the flow of the game we’d be fine,” Pike said. “It’s the first game and some of these girls have never played varsity before. Some of them have never played in the role they had to play.”
Dickerson and Deming dominated in the third quarter, dribbling past Coupeville to score on layups and drawing fouls.
While those two found holes in Coupeville’s defense, the Borderites defense stayed aggressive, forcing Coupeville to run down the shot clock and take desperate shots. Blaine allowed just five points in the second half.
“I told the girls, if we don’t turn the ball over and give them fast breaks, we’re going to be tough to beat by anybody just because of how well we play half-court defense,” Pike said.
In the first week of practice, Pike emphasized the importance of ball-handling and minimizing turnovers. Blaine’s 21 turnovers was a few more than Pike hoped for, but the game was a solid start, he said.
Blaine’s next game is away against Nooksack Valley at 5:40 p.m. on Friday, December 2.