By Oliver Lazenby
This year’s Blaine boys varsity basketball has a clean slate, after finishing last season with a 5-13 record.
First of all Rob Ridnour, returns as head coach. Ridnour, father of Blaine High School alum and former NBA player Luke Ridnour, has a long history with the Borderites, but not much recently. He coached Blaine basketball teams from 1988 to 2000 – a period in which the Borderites brought home two state titles – and then came back last year to help the coaching staff.
“They’re all adjusting to me,” Ridnour said. “It’s a new coach, a new system, a new personality.”
Things will look different on the court too, as just two of last year’s varsity players – Colby Knutzen and Adam Vega – returned. The rest of Blaine’s lineup came from last year’s JV team, aside from a couple freshmen and a senior who’s never played before.
Clean slate, in other words, means lack of experience.
“In a way it’s exciting because no one really knows what to expect,” Ridnour said. “We expect to raise the bar and hopefully surprise some teams.”
Returning varsity starter Colby Knutzen will likely lead the team. He’ll play point guard, along with Ryan Turnberg. Ridnour also expects Adam Vega, the other returning varsity player, to step up and lead the team, along with new guys Ben Wallen and Niko Fricker.
“These kids have never had the opportunity,” Ridnour said. “They’re playing really hard right now and they’re really coachable.”
If there’s one thing the team does have, it’s size. With four players 6-foot-4-inches or taller, Blaine should measure up to most other teams in the league.
During the first week of games, Blaine was working on transition defense – the process of switching from offense to defense, with an eye toward preventing fast breaks.
“We need to get down the floor from one end to the other and contain the ball,” Ridnour said. “We didn’t do that last year.”
Blaine played its first game on November 29 against Coupeville at home. The Borderites next game is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 1 at home against Nooksack Valley.