Sports -- December 12, 2002

Published on Thu, Dec 12, 2002
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SPORTS
By Neil Macdonald

Sports and the stock market...

Over the years, a school’s sports ups and downs, successes and failures seem to follow patterns like stocks on the market. One sport will climb in popularity, attracting participants galore, while another’s popularity will turn south and fall into disfavor.
This autumn, student participation at Blaine was down in several sports. The usual number of boys competing in cross country meets was 10 or 11. There was no girls team. The turnout for boys tennis was 15. The varsity football team, with about 20 players, had to reinforce its bench with JVs. Things were bearish.
Tennis doesn’t begin until 9th grade and, if a JV or middle school tennis team was formed, there’d be no one to compete against.“We had a number of sophomores with little to no experience,” tennis coach John Freal said. “In a team sport, a less experienced player can sometimes be hidden, but there’s no place to hide in an individual sport like tennis. Due to the way things are today, if you’re not at the top, it’s tough just to be a participant and do the best you can.”
Cross country is probably not suited for the very young. It takes maturity of mind to handle the long, lonely hours of putting one foot in front of the other. CC striding also has the problem of recognition, even the top performers in the world don’t become household names in America. “Cross country takes a lot of time and must be seen as fun more than just as a competitive sport,” Bacon said.
The chances of getting a girls team back on course may be helped down the road by the fact 14 girls competed in the Boys & Girls club middle school age cross country program.
Football’s recruitment problems have always been hampered by its dependence on size and strength and its capacity to incapacitate its adherents. Borderite football devotees not engaged in a winter or spring sport are weight room bound.
This year’s Borderites were light on numbers and experience, but the team’s attrition rate was low, 18 of the 21 turnouts were around at season’s end. This mirrored the “stick with it” numbers with tennis and cross country. Most of those that started, finished.
But football is a team sport – not having enough bodies to hold full scrimmages meant coach Dave Fakkema had to experiment. Having the Varsity and JVs practicing together didn’t work out. Competing against guys two or three years older and 50 to 60 pounds heavier than you are is all “sticnic” and no picnic for the littler guys. It can encourage searching for more contemplative activity, like chess.
The remedy has been Fakkema’s decision to separate the frosh from the upper classmen. You try this, you try that, you keep what works.
Football has one edge over cross country and tennis in the long orange line that goes back to elementary school days where flagball and Boys & Girls club football acquaint kids with the game.
“We owe a great debt to the Boys & Girls club starting their football program for kids five or six years ago,” Fakkema said. The first bunch of kids who have played together since then reach high school in 2003 – 32 7th, 26 8th and 16 9th graders played football this season.
Yes, sports are like the stock market – long term investments can pay big dividends...

Neil's Notes
Summers All-NCC
Blaine junior middle hitter Jessica Summers was named to the North Cascade Conference’s volleyball All-League first team. Summers joins Katie Robinson, Nooksack Valley junior setter; Laura Vandenhoek, Lynden Christian senior middle hitter; Brianna Hussey, South Whidbey junior setter; Bree Brandt, Meridian junior middle hitter; and Alicia Dickinson, Mt. Baker junior outside hitter. .

Wrestlers host invitational
Borderite grapplers play host to 16 teams in Blaine’s wrestling Invitational starting at 4 p.m.on December 13 and 10 a.m. on December 14 at the Big Orange.
Favorites for team honors include 2A Mt. Baker, ranked No. 1 in the state by most mat experts; 4A Heritage, a Vancouver school with considerable class; and 2A Elma, a tough contingent from Grays Harbor County.
Besides Mt. Baker and Blaine, the NCC will be represented by Meridian, Granite Falls, South Whidbey and Lakewood. Other schools sending mat men are Burlington-Edison, Cascade (Leavenworth), Issaquah, Thomas Jefferson (Auburn), Kalama, Kentwood, Mt. Vernon, Sedro Wooley and Wellpinit.
Ed Aliverti, considered the world’s premier wrestling announcer, will be on hand to lend his voice, wit and wisdom to the proceedings.
The Borderites will compete on December 12 in a quad meet at Mt. Baker. Action starts at 6 p.m. Opponents are Sultan, Lakewood and the host Mountaineers.
The Borderite wrestling team has gone from a roster of six athletes who finished last season to a turnout of 26 athletes this season.
This almost fourfold increase in mat men was aided by Foster’s presenting students contemplating wrestling this season with a challenge.
“We drew a line in the sand and attracted the kids who were more willing to work,” Foster said, “If you expect a big commitment, you’ll get it.”
Borderites to watch are middle school county champions Nick Jordan and Sam Abrams at 119 or 125 pounds; state veteran competitor Richie Tewes and Spokane transfer Calvin Moore at 130 or 135; Mongolian exchange student Bayartsengel Khishigdorj, a very athletic wrestler with considerable mat experience at 152; and 2001-02 state alternate Anthony Terris, a heavyweight. .

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Blaine edges foes in overtime
With Jake Gilmore scoring 6 of Blaine’s 7 points in overtime, including the winning basket, Blaine opened the boys’ basketball season with a 60-59 OT victory over Steilacoom Sentinels at the Big Orange on December 7.
Ryan Alexander’s free throw knotted the game at 53-53 to get the Borderites to OT. Gilmore put Blaine up 55-53 on a lay-up. Ryan Reynolds promptly put the Sentinels ahead by a point on a trey, but Brendan Mulholland’s freebee tied things again. Long Jon Freeman then came up with a big block on a 2-point attempt by Steilacoom and seconds later Gilmore put Blaine ahead by two.
It was 58-56, Blaine, with 48 seconds left. Too much time to keep the speedy Sentinels off the scoreboard, Brett Wusterbarth putting the visitors up 59-58 with a trey. 17.3 seconds left. But Gilmore came back with his game winner with three seconds to go and Wusterbarth missed a trey attempt at the buzzer. A sneaker squeaker if there ever was one.
The game could have gone either way. It was tied eight times – six times by Blaine. Each team went into the lead six times before Gilmore’s final 2 drained the net.
There were times when Blaine or Steilacoom roared ahead and seemed set to run away with it. But these appearances of inequity were mere illusions.
Blaine took a nine-point lead late in Q1 and were up by 12 in the Q2, but the Sentinels came back, reduced Blaine’s lead to 6 by the half. Steilacoom took a 36-35 lead with 5:03 left in Q3 and extended their edge to 8 points by 3:08 of Q4. But the Double Bs roared back, out-scoring the Double Ss 11-3 in the final five minutes to send the game into OT.
Gilmore led Blaine with a game-high 23 points. Grant Sanders got 11; Alexander, 10; Mulholland and Freeman, 8 each. Ryan Reynolds led Steilacoom with 20. Wusterbarth added 18. Gilmore and Freeman each got 5 rebounds and Alexander chalked up 5 assists.
Blaine defeated Steilacoom 49-33 to take fifth at State last March and edged the Sentinels 49-47 in a scorcher this summer at the Federal Way school.
The Borderites play NV at Nooksack Valley in North Cascades Conference action on December 13 and host Ferndale’s Golden Eagles in a non-league affair on December 18. Both games start at 7:30 p.m. The outcome of the Pioneer tilt could turn out to be of considerable importance come playoff time.

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Blaine hosts Nooksack in crucial contest
Blaine’s Lady Bs open the regular North Cascade Conference girls’ basketball season at 7:30 p.m. on December 12 at the Big Orange with a contest of consequence against Nooksack Valley’s Lady Pioneers.
The last time the two teams met was in the Northwest District final on March 1, a game in which Blaine came from behind a 14-point Lady P lead in Q2 eventually to win 56-55. Something of similar closeness, with no sure bet on who’ll emerge on the upper end of the score, is expected on the 12th day of December.
Both teams are now considered among the best candidates to occupy the upper end of NCC standings at this season’s end. The Pioneers are led by 5-foot-6 senior guard Devin Dykstra and 5-foot-8 junior guard Katie Robinson. Dykstra got 11 points and 10 rebounds and Robinson tallied 13 points and 4 assists in Nooksack’s opener, a 54-45 loss to King’s in Seattle on December 7.
The Lady B’s opened the season the same evening with a 54-40 win over the 3A Lady Tigers of Burlington-Edison at Burlington.
Blaine coach Pat Green succinctly summed up the game, saying, “They pressed us with a full court trapping defense. We didn’t get to come down court at our own calm speed. Things were more hectic than normal, but we overcame it.”
BEs aggressiveness led to the Lady Bs going to the foul line for 31 free throws, where they drained 21 for a 68 percent efficiency of effort. The Lady T’s got only 11 trips to the foul line, hitting six for a proficiency of 55 percent. That free throw edge of 21-6 is one point more than the 14 points of separation in the game’s final score.
As coach Green said, “That was the difference.”
Blaine’s 35-14 edge in rebounds didn’t hurt the Lady B cause either, Jessica Summers and Shela Robertson each securing 8 rebounds to lead the Green Machine.
Summers put up a game-high 20 points for Blaine. Linsey Taylor got 12; Shela Robertson, 9 and Kristina Francis, 5. Jennifer Kramer, Amanda Stull, Ainsley Nix and Kimberly Harmening added 2 points each. Blaine led 15-6, 25-16, 32-27 at the quarters and outscored BE 22-13 in Q4.