by Jack Kintner
second perfect season in a row for
Last year the Blaine girls were perfect, and this year they still are. OK, there might be an exception or two but not in basketball. The Lady B�s have produced a perfect 20-0 string for the second season in a row, extending their three-year-old home winning streak to 28 games.
The core of this team has been playing together since their grade-school days at the Boys and Girls Club, developing both individual skills and an almost telepathic ability to communicate as a team. This perfect season includes last December�s one-point buzzer-beater over Burlington-Edison in which Blaine had to go coast-to-coast and score in less than three seconds.
Blaine will make its eighth trip to the state tournament in the last nine years by winning just one of two playoff games at the district tournament; the first is tomorrow night at 8 p.m. at Mount Vernon high school. The girls� opponent will be determined by first round play, where Blaine earned a bye in clinching the league championship three weeks ago.
gets two more records in season finale
Jessica �Stretch� Summers closed out her regular season high school career with yet another championship performance as the Lady B�s blasted the Sultan Turks 67-27 in Blaine�s final home game of the season.
Blaine began pressing from the start, allowing the hapless Turks just four points in each of the first two quarters to their own 37. The B�s forced 32 turnovers in the game, fast breaking almost at will and putting on an offensive show that lit up the gym like a Norwegian Church on Christmas Eve. Had the magnificent Blaine pep band played Sweet Georgia Brown the Globetrotter parallel would have been complete.
Nine girls participated in the scoring, long distance specialist Kristina Francis getting Blaine�s single trey for the night.
Summers, headed to the big time next fall at NCAA-I University of Idaho, scored both a personal best and set a single-game individual scoring mark with 32 total points. She just missed another in a string of double doubles with nine rebounds, but closes her final season with school records in both total rebounds and total points scored as well as the two marks set that evening. Her last look in uniform at Blaine�s bleachers showed why she�s been a consensus all-state player at the post (center) for two seasons.
Head coach Patrick Green, wearing his goofy paperboy grin above his traditional tie and shirt combo in the opposite team�s colors, fittingly handed Summers the trophy for the final North Cascades league championship. Blaine leaves the dissolving NCC for the resurrected five team AA Whatcom County League next year.
Earlier Green gave fans a sneak preview of next year�s team by subbing in five players over the evening, including newcomers Kara Stull and Chelsea Crews, both sophomores. Fans can look forward to a more physical style of play with soccer standouts Nicole Riddle at guard and Lori Robertson on the wing, balanced with the quickness of ball-hawking guard Rochelle Jackson. Offensive punch will come from the dead-eye accuracy of guards Ainsley Nix and Alyssa Hendrickson and the willowy grace of Jenn Kramer soaring to the rafters at wing.
Gilmore leads Borderites hoopsters to league championship
Borderites bounced back from two straight home losses to close out the regular season with a three-game winning streak despite playing short-handed. They captured the final North Cascades Conference championship � the league is dissolving in June - with 68-50 road win at Sultan last Friday.
After a lackluster first period Blaine put 60 points on the scoreboard in the final three periods behind Jake �Skippy� Gilmore�s 25 points, including two treys. It�s the fifth game in a row Gilmore�s scored 23 or more points.
Skippy and freshman Joey Paciorek led Blaine�s third quarter run at Sultan by scoring all 17 of Blaine�s points. Paciorek ended up with 15 on the night and led the team with 11 rebounds. Ryan Goodwin popped in seven of eight free throws and added two more field goals for 11 points. Junior guards Doug �Hollywood� Goldsby got eight points and Craig Rothwell got five, including one trey.
As a team, Blaine shot a respectable 54 percent from the field and a hot 72 percent from the stripe in moving their season record to 14-6 over-all, 13-3 in league play.
championship smooths path to state tourney
Blaine�s league championship earned a first-round bye in the district tournament plus a state tournament berth if they win either of their two district tournament games. The boys begin tournament play at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Mount Vernon High School against the winner of tonight�s Lynden Christian-Meridian contest.
Blaine handled the Lynx competently in both encounters this season but split with the Trojans, arguably the season�s toughest competition. They won in overtime at Meridian earlier this month when Joey Paciorek got 10 of his 20 points in extra innings but lost badly (71-48) at home. Significantly, Jake Gilmore still managed 23 points and retained his scoring lead, making a strong case for selection as the league MVP.
Meridian�s offensive juggernaut was jostled last week against South Whidbey when Travis Tornga�s three point buzzer-beater tied the game at 45 at the end of regulation play. In the two overtimes that followed, Meridian�s poor free-throw shooting cost them both the game, 54-51, and second place in the league. They ended up tied with Lynden Christian for fourth at 11-5. Mt Baker and Nooksack, both 12-4, tied for second. South Whidbey earned sixth place and with it the last district tournament slot with their victory over Meridian.
Final round district tournament play for both boys� and girls� teams is next weekend (March 6) and the four-day state tournament begins March 10 in Yakima.