By Oliver Lazenby
Off to an otherwise solid start to its season, the Blaine boys varsity basketball team lost 81–45 at home against Bellingham on December 20. A flu-like illness plowing through the team and being bested by Bellingham at its own style of quick basketball contributed to Blaine’s loss.
Blaine point guard Ben Adams left early in the first quarter feeling sick. He’s not the only one to catch a stomach illness that swept through Blaine schools early this month. Coaches canceled basketball practice for December 21 because of the illness.
Adams’ playmaking and ball handling holds the team together, and the Borderites struggled without him.
“I think Ben helps the whole team play well,” said senior Michael Baldwin, a leading scorer December 20. “His driving ability sucks in the defenders, leaving other people open.”
Blaine racked up more turnovers than points in the first quarter and had trouble scoring through the second quarter, ending the half trailing 47–14. That’s a performance Baldwin didn’t attribute solely to Adams’ absence.
“Missing Ben hurts the team, but at the same time we really should have been able to get the job done and we couldn’t,” Baldwin said.
The Borderites improved in the second half, scoring more points in the third quarter than in the entire first half, but struggled against Bellingham’s quickness.
The Borderites are short and head coach Shaun Pile has retooled the team to play a quicker style than in previous years – characterized by fast breaks, scrappy defense and quick ball movement – to make up for struggling to rebound and control the key.
It seems to be working, as Blaine’s record so far is 4–2, and 2–1 in Northwest Conference games after Tuesday’s loss. Bellingham is currently leading the conference with a 3–0 record in conference games.
Bellingham isn’t a tall team either, though they inch out Blaine, and they play with a similar style.
“They play a lot like us, actually, is what we were saying in the locker room,” Baldwin said. “They really moved the ball well and I just don’t think we were quite prepared for their
style of play.”