by Jack Kintner
Last second shot lands win for Blaine
With no time left on the clock, junior forward Jen Kramer sank a lay-in on a pass from Jessica Summers to beat the Burlington Tigers 41-40 in Blaine�s non-league home opener last Saturday.
Blaine led for most of the game, but the score was held down by moments of defensive brilliance and a little of what Blaine high principal Dan Newell said were �early-season jitters. They�ll snap out of it, though,� he predicted confidently.
Five and a half minutes into the first quarter, when Summers sank both ends of a 1 and 1, Blaine took a modest 4-2 lead. That seemed to get the Borderites untracked a little, as less than a minute later Kristina Francis got her first of two three-pointers to put Blaine ahead 7-3. Junior guard Ainsley Nix snagged an offensive rebound with one minute left and pumped it back up from 12 feet to increase Blaine�s lead to six points, but Burlington managed to answer both buckets and at the end of the first period Blaine�s lead was back down to two points, 9-7.
In the second quarter, hustling senior guard Shela Robertson poked Blaine�s first offensive rebound right back into the can and then scored again in close to move Blaine�s lead back up to four at 13-7.
With baskets from Phillina Cain and a two from Kristina Francis, Blaine ended up outscoring Burlington 8-3 for the quarter, but neither squad could have been pleased with what was at best an inept offensive performance in the first half. The score stood at an embarrassingly low 17-10.
During halftime, both Burlington coach Laura Fead and Blaine coach Patrick Green managed to get something across to their teams as the second half began to look more as it is supposed to. Again Shela Robertson began the scoring for Blaine, followed by a Kramer foul shot and then another Robertson field goal, but Burlington was making its run and Blaine�s lead had shrunk back to four points, 22-18. Nix and Summers both scored to increase the lead to eight, but Burlington finished the quarter with five unanswered points to cut the lead to three, 26-23.
The fourth quarter was vintage Blaine Basketball, and the second encounter in a row so far this season when last-second heroics brought victory to the Borderites. Blaine and Burlington traded the lead eight times in the final five minutes, four of the lead changes coming in the final minute and 10 seconds of play after Shela Robertson had fouled out.
With Blaine down by one, 38-37, and only 54 seconds left, Summers got the ball back on a defensive rebound and passed down court as Patrick Green called for a timeout.
It took Blaine another 17 precious seconds to accomplish this, but on the subsequent inbounds play Francis scored from near the free-throw line to regain the lead 39-38 with 27 seconds left.
Blaine�s press kept the Tigers in the Blaine half of the court after their in-bounds pass, and after a Burlington time-out their next inbounds pass went cross-court to Burlington�s Cassey Saunders, Burlington�s most talented player. Showing good instincts in the clutch, she dribbled right through three-fifths of Blaine�s team for a lay-up and the lead with only 10 seconds to go. It seemed like the last nail in the coffin, and the small crowd of Burlington parents and friends filled the gym with noise.
With the Blaine partisans yelling for Green to call another timeout and the Burlington fans just yelling, Kristina Francis took the inbounds pass in the Burlington end and baseballed like a center fielder 50 feet down court to Summers, who snapped it over to a streaking Jen Kramer for the easy game-winner, badda bing, badda boom. The game-ending buzzer went off as the ball fell through the net to confirm the 41-40 Blaine win.
It was one of the few times all evening when Blaine�s girls showed just how good they really are, and it came not a moment too soon. �I�m glad we won,� Green said, �but we do have a little work to do on some things.�
At last week�s jamboree, Francis stole the ball at mid-court from Squalicum backcourt star Emily Irwin with five seconds left. Irwin fouled her and Francis calmly sank two free throws to win the game for Blaine with one second left.
This week the struggle was more protracted, and called for Blaine to show its heart as well as its skill. Blaine�s Shela Robertson and Burlington�s Cassey Saunders each kept their teams in the game through the stretch drive as the teams traded baskets, although four of the eight fourth-quarter lead changes came after Robertson fouled out with 1:40 to go and Blaine leading 37-36.
Carr wins heavyweight crown in Everett
Blaine junior Matt Carr won his first varsity tournament trophy last Saturday in the heavyweight class (215 pounds and up) last weekend in the Mariner high school Holiday Tournament. �It�s all about mobility,� said coach Craig Foster when he returned late Saturday night.
Carr began by pinning Blanchet high school�s Tiernan Still less than two minutes into the match. He decisioned Chris Miller of Mariner 10-3, then defeated Lake Stevens� Paul Toomey 5-4 in the final.
Blaine�s Calvin Moore came very close to pushing his opponent, Tony Ansara of Stadium high school, into overtime and a possible second championship in the 140 pound weight class, but was called for clasped hands (illegal except in certain pinning maneuvers) with just a few seconds left in his championship match. The one-point penalty proved the margin of difference, 12-11. Moore had come from seven points down in the second period to tie Ansara at the end of regulation, outscoring him 7-0 in the final frame. Previously, Moore had beaten Mariner�s Thomas Genest 23-7 and had pinned Mariner�s Kyle Dewey on his way to the championship round.
This weekend is Blaine�s Battle at the Border, a 23-team wrestling extravaganza that takes place Friday and Saturday in the new gym at Blaine high school. �It�s one of the premier tournaments in the state,� said Foster, �with both the four-AAAA (Heritage high school) and three-AAA (Sedro Woolley) state champs attending as well as last year�s AA runner-up, Mt. Baker. Some of the matches are tougher here than they are at the state tournament.�
Wrestling starts at 2 p.m. Friday and continues until at least 9 p.m., resumes at 10 a.m. Saturday and concludes with the championships finals on Saturday at 6 p.m., when contenders from each 14 weight classes wll wrestle in turn.
Blaine loses traditional season opener
Blaine�s traditional opening game for the past 10 years has been with the AA Nisqually league�s Steilacoom, a high school located in one of the oldest towns (1849) in the state. In winning this year�s edition 56-48, Steilacoom illustrated one of the oldest principles of playing the game of basketball: he who executes wins.
�It was a fun game, a nice trip, lots of fan support,� said head coach Dan Rucker. �But in the end, they executed. They�re a quick, fast team and came to play.�
Blaine�s scoring was limited to the starting five: Ryan Goodwin and Doug Goldsby had five apiece, Brendan Mulholland got eight and point guard Ryan Alexander had 10. Guard Jake Gilmore was high point man with 20, including all four of Blaine�s three-point shots. Steilacoom�s Michael Lewis got 24, 18 of them in the first half.
The lead see-sawed back and forth in the firt quarter, which ended at 16-16. Steilacoom outscored Blaine in the second 13-5 for a 29-21 halftime lead. Blaine outscored Steilacoom in the third 15-10 to trail by just three and then closed in within two points early in the fourth, 46-44. But that was as close as they would come.
Blaine shot a cold 39.5 percent from the floor to Steilacoom�s 53.8 percent, although Blaine�s 70 percemt free-throw shooting (to Steilacoom�s 52 percent) kept them close. Toward the end, both Goldsby and Gilmore fouled out as Blaine put Steilacoom at the line in order to get the ball back.
Blaine�s only home appearance until after Christmas is tonight�s home opener against defending AA state champ Nooksack Valley, but about the only thing left on the team that went to state are the uniforms. Six seniors graduated, flashy guard Ty Willemsen is nursing a football injury and the standout player from last year�s 18-1 JV team, junior Bruce Holz, is sitting out a suspension.