Sports -- February 05, 2004

Published on Thu, Feb 5, 2004
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SPORTS
by Jack Kintner

Lady Borderites now 15-0

Blaine�s girls, ranked second in the state, seemed determined to hand fifth-ranked Mt. Baker a much-needed league victory last week before turning it around in the second half for a 20 point victory 53-33.

Mountie coach Bob MacIntosh devised a suffocating man-to-man defense of the kind that Blaine seldom sees, and it had them pretty well stymied throughout much of the first half. Baker came at Blaine with the energy and determination of a swarm of gnats, and lead 7-6 at the end of the first quarter. In the second, Blaine secured the lead for good off a Jessica �Stretch� Summers field goal after Baker had tied it at 10, but at the half they were still only leading by three.

Blaine head coach Patrick Green reportedly delivered a spirited, frank and motivationally effective halftime speech, a polite way of saying, as did senior Summers, �He chewed our butts.�

The issue was one of execution as much as it was being behind. �Baker just took it to us, here on our own court,� said Green, �so I challenged them.�

The second half was a different story. Blaine outscored the Mounties 31-15 and for a long period beginning in the third quarter and extending into the fourth kept them scoreless.

Blaine out-rebounded the Mounties 31-17, nine of them snagged by Jess Summers. Kristina Francis got six of 13 assists for Blaine. Baker was also cold from the floor, shooting 30 percent which couldn�t compete with Blaine�s 54 percent.

�We don�t see that kind of defense too often,� Green said, �But I also wasn�t happy with our effort in the first half.�

Blaine 56, Granite Falls 29
Blaine started slowly again last Friday night before blowing out the hapless Tigers with 21 points in the second quarter while holding Granite Falls to just 21 points for the rest of the game. Jess Summers got a double-double, 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Kristina Francis added five more assists to her growing record.

Blaine 48, Lynden Christian 30
Both Blaine teams took both the Lynden teams last Tuesday, the girls holding up their end with a disciplined approach that allowed the Lynx just two points in the first quarter while scoring 15 of their own.

With the win, Blaine moves to 15-0 for the season. They next play Mt. Baker in Deming tonight at 7 p.m., and it should be well worth the trip.

Boys beat Baker team 47-38

Head basketball coach Dan Rucker�s coaching philosophy passed a big test last Saturday night in rain-soaked Deming as Blaine dismounted the Mt. Baker Mounties 47-38.

With the win, Blaine�s record went to 10-4 (9-1 NCC). They�ve begun to pull away from the rest of the league as the season enters the home stretch. The boys have only five games left, only two of which are with contenders. Both are at home, Mt. Baker tomorrow and Meridian next Wednesday.

�This is the most balanced I�ve seen this league in 10 years of coaching,� said Rucker after Saturday night�s game, more of a nail biter than the score might show. The first half was a defensive struggle, like an arm wrestling match that has yet to tip one way or the other, with occasional breakouts.

The Borderites played deliberately and carefully in the first half, slowing the Mounties who nonetheless gradually chipped away at Blaine�s early lead, tying the score at 11 and again at 15 before stealing the half-time lead with a dramatic last second running shot. Blaine answered by slowing the pace even more in the second half, running some special set plays that took advantage of Baker center Keith Williams� preference for standing flat-footed in the paint looking like he�s waiting for an order of fries instead of a rebound.

Blaine pressed Baker but not frantically in the backcourt while keeping Baker team captain and long bomb specialist Whit Tyler away from his favorite three-point spot. Blaine�s Brendan Mulholland found enough space at the other end of the court to drive for 16 points, the high for the game.

Blaine shot 52 percent from the field, 10 points better that Baker. Even more than that, Blaine�s nine fouls against Baker�s 20 was a huge improvement and one of the main reasons why Rucker�s misty-eyed pep talk to the team (after the game) was filled with well-earned compliments.

�You guys have a real hard-hat, get-it-done approach,� he said, �and I�m really proud of you.� He should be. At Nooksack just a week before the team let themselves get rattled by a ref who forgot his glasses, which happens, but it left them tentative, unable to execute cleanly and as nervous as a bunch of colts who have just found the electric fence.

This week they simply took the game away from Baker, slowing them down and forcing turnovers while running an offensive pattern they�d practiced three days before. They took a team that averages 60 points a game and held them to just eight in the first quarter and four in the third. In the fourth quarter Joey Paciorek opened the scoring 10 seconds in with a lay-up that opened Blaine�s lead to nine, biggest of the evening. Baker had chipped it to seven two minutes later and to five with just 3:39 left, and with two minutes left and the lead still at five Rucker called a time out.

The teams then traded scoring plays that flowed down the court with grace and speed, looking more like what you�d see at the Key Arena than in Baker�s comfortable dome. Blaine went first, Jake Gilmore scoring so fast that it appeared to break the exhausted Mounties� back. But Baker came right back on Tyler�s 15-foot jump shot.

The teams traded turnovers just before Tyler was caught sailing into Ryan Alexander like a blind seagull into a lighthouse, one of several fouls toward the end that kept Blaine shooting freebies and that basically lost the game for Baker right there.

With a minute to go Tyler scored the last of Baker�s points with his second three-point shot, this one a desperate lob from near half court that nearly took the net off on re-entry, not that it would have mattered. They were spent, done.

Tuesday of this week Blaine took another game from Lynden Christian, playing slowly and deliberately behind Jake �Skippy� Gilmore�s 22 points and two very timely Brendan Mulholland free throws at the end when the Lynx had closed to within two. Again, they kept cool when the pressure mounted and moved their season record to 11-4 (10-1 NCC).

The top six teams in the NCC will continue on to the district tournament in Mount Vernon at the end of the month. The top two teams get moved automatically into the second round with first-round byes, and of the six only three go on to Yakima for a little March Madness.

Blaine is in a good spot right now, and they should be � they�ve certainly earned it.

Blaine next plays Mt. Baker tomorrow night at home for a pivotal game. Baker�s slipped recently but is not a bad team so much as a good team in a slump. They were ranked in the top five and had just one league loss when the wheels came off and they lost three in a row, sinking into the four team food fight going on for second through fifth places in the league standings. They do not like seeing their season and their state ranking evaporate like the dew, something Blaine helped do to them. They�re spoiling for a fight and they�ll come in with a take-no-prisoners attitude.

Ya just gotta be there tomorrow night, sports fans.

Blaine-Mt. Baker game to be aired

Tomorrow�s Blaine vs. Mt. Baker game will be webcast live on the internet by the advanced TV class at Blaine high school. Don Snell will handle the play-by-play and Kimberly Harmening, a wing on the varsity girls� basketball team, will do color. Jess Freeman and Matt Christion will report from the sidelines and Milagro Ayala will direct.

The webcast begins at 7:20 p.m. with a ten-minute pre-game show, and can be found at . The game can be seen on either Macs or PC's using Quicktime 6 Player, a free program that can be downloaded at www.apple.com/quicktime/ products/qt/.