Story by Oliver Lazenby and photos by Janell Kortlever
Blaine boys varsity basketball is still in the running for the playoffs after losing seven out of nine of the last games against a series of tough opponents.
In its most recent game Blaine lost 71–27 to league-leading Anacortes, which is undefeated in conference games. Echoing some other recent games, Blaine had a slow start and got behind 20-7 after the first quarter.
Anacortes’ 6’6″ senior Jesse Keltner scored 14 of those points and was one of three tall Anacortes players who outmatched the Borderites in rebounds.
Blaine had strong moments and nearly matched Anacortes for baskets in the third quarter, but ultimately suffered its worst loss of the season. Senior Anthony Ball was Blaine’s high scorer with 10 points, including two three-pointers in the third quarter.
Borderites head coach Shaun Pile said the tenacity of the team’s seniors impressed him – they were still diving and scrapping even while trailing by 40 points in the fourth quarter. Senior Jalen Kortlever said the seniors are looking to lead the young team by example in the season’s remaining six games.
“I don’t think we’re doing a good enough job of leading,” he said. “We have a tough schedule coming up and we can’t afford to have slow starts and waste games.”
Blaine’s low score wasn’t unusual for teams playing Anacortes. Anacortes’ defense allows opponents to score an average of 47 points per game, the fewest points of any team in the league.
“They really get after it. They’re in your face and real aggressive,” Pile said. “It’s hard when you’re practicing against your own teammates and you come out against guys of this size and quickness and athleticism.”
Blaine has a 2–5 record in conference games and a 5–8 record overall. The Borderites are currently tied with six teams for eighth in 2A Northwest conference. The top 12 teams qualify for the playoffs, so Blaine is in good shape but need some wins to get there.
“We have a goal and our eyes are maybe looking down tonight but tomorrow it’s back to focusing on districts,” Pile said. “We have a good chance of getting in and that’s the focus right now.”
Blaine’s next game is away against Sehome at 7:30 p.m. on January 20. Blaine’s final home game is Thursday, February 2 against Sedro-Woolley.