Teams do well in post-season play
Blaine’s wrestlers and boys basketball team were both involved in post-season play this past week and did well as both programs saw considerable improvement over last year.
Blaine’s Jacob Humphrey (103 pound weight class) took third last weekend at the state wrestling meet. It was the best finish among the 10 wrestlers out of the Blaine program who qualified for the tournament in sub-district and district meets, both of which Blaine won for the first time in 10 years.
The two-day state tournament, called Mat Classic XVIII and held at the Tacoma Dome, was a frustrating end to a successful season in that none of the Borderites finished first and only three placed in the final round. Blayne Brandenburger (189 pounds) and Calvin Moore (140 pounds) both finished in seventh place in their respective classes, which along with Humphrey’s result gave Blaine a seventh place team finish.
Humphrey came the closest to a championship round appearance but was caught in a cradle move early in his semifinal match and was pinned by the eventual champion, J.J. Garza of Toppenish. Humphrey then pinned his consolation finals opponent Ryan England of Lakeside 42 seconds into the first period for third place.
Earlier Humphrey pinned both Nathan Oliphant from Meridian in the first period and his second round opponent.
Brandenburger pinned his first round opponent, Michael Meija of Kiowa-Benton, lost the next match, won his third, lost again and won his consolation round battle for seventh 12-4. Moore pinned his first round opponent Jordan Flynn of Steilacoom in the second period, and shut out his opponent 6-0 in the final consolation match to take seventh.
Wrestlers who qualified for the meet from Blaine but did not place include Mike Broyan (125), Sam Abrams (130), Jesse Kilthau (135), John Brady (145), Nick Jordan (160), Shane Hicks (171) and Niko Rehon (171).
“The Borderites came out on fire,” said Blaine head basketball coach Dan Rucker after his boys team beat Lakewood in their first district tournament game 69 to 46 Tuesday night. The win earned Blaine a second round winners bracket game with Lynden Christian high school.
Playing at Lakewood, Blaine (10 wins and 10 losses in regular season play) surged to an early lead as junior standout Mike Pianki scored 12 of his eventual 21 points in the first quarter which ended with Blaine on top, 23-10.
Lakewood (13-7 season record) finished second in the Cascade league to King’s (19-2) and split their games, beating them at home. But Tuesday they found themselves almost immediately behind and simply never caught up as Blaine led by 17 at the half and by 32 points, 61-29, at the end of the third quarter.
Not one to run up the score, coach Rucker played everyone in the game getting balanced scoring from eight different players topped by Pianki, Joe Paciorek’s 14 points and 10 rebounds and Rob Bleecker with 12 points, including two three-point shots.
Blaine’s high-octane performance was reflected in its shooting 59 percent from the field, 75 percent from beyond the three-point arc and an impressive 83 percent from the free-throw line. As a team the Borderites snagged 28 rebounds and 21 assists while giving the ball away on turnovers only six times.
Blaine plays LC (18-2) on Friday, February 24, at 8 p.m. at the Mount Vernon high school gym where the rest of the district tournament games will be played. Blaine narrowly lost their last encounter with LC on February 14, holding them scoreless for the last three minutes of play before eventually losing 52-54. The top three teams go on to the state tournament in Yakima March 8 – 11.