Sports -- March 11, 2004

Published on Thu, Mar 11, 2004
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By Jack Kintner

Blaine boys second, Gilmore named league MVP
MOUNT VERNON – Blaine dropped its final game in the Northwest District playoffs last week 46-37, out-rebounded at crucial points by an inspired Nooksack Valley defense. For Blaine, the first half belonged to Jake Gilmore and the second to Ryan Alexander, but the game, in the end, belonged to a tenacious, battling Nooksack man-to-man defense.
Blaine’s zone with which they began each half seemed to contain Nooksack at first but the Borderites lost the battle in the paint. Not only did Nooksack’s senior center Darin Vinkes grab a game-high 15 rebounds, but Blaine got no put-back points (points from second shots after getting an offensive rebound), and shot a cold (for them) 42 percent from the floor.

Besides Bob Gray’s wonderful pep band, the bright spot was news that Blaine senior Jake Gilmore was the nearly unanimous selection as the league’s most valuable player for the year. The only coach’s vote he didn’t receive was from Granite Falls, who said that he’d have voted for him too if he’d seen him play before the balloting took place.
Borderite senior Brendan Mulholland was named second team all-league guard.

Nooksack’s coach Bill Kelly said “Blaine’s too good to come home without some kind of trophy” from the state tournament. “They’re deep and talented,” Kelly said, “and that will show.” Kelly coached Nooksack to last year’s AA Boys basketball championship, but just to get this year’s team to state is almost more impressive, since it’s got only two real players - senior Ty Willemsen and junior Bruce Holz, who missed part of the year with a suspension.

Blaine(15-7), Nooksack (17-5) and third place Lynden Christian (15-8), are the three county teams at state this week in Yakima. Blaine guaranteed themselves the trip two weeks ago by defeating Meridian in their first game. Meridian lost the district’s third spot to LC last Saturday afternoon and will stay home.

Girls net collection grows

MOUNT VERNON – They played for 32 minutes of regulation time and celebrated at least that long afterward, cutting down the net for the second time this season as the Lady B’s collected their third straight Northwest district crown and fifth in the last seven years by defeating the Mt. Baker girls last Friday night in Mount Vernon 64-36.

Despite jumping out to an early lead that by halftime had stretched to 33-13, Blaine played for their lives, pressing and ball-hawking most of the game like a pack of jackals nipping at a herd of gnu. Jessica Summers repeatedly crashed the boards with driving lay-ups, getting nine of the second half’s first 11 points, dominating and controlling the game as only a true talent can. It was a satisfying pleasure for the fans, like watching Michelangelo paint the ceiling.

Christina Francis, whose impressive speed often goes unnoticed behind her equally impressive grace and balance, got nine points and the only Blaine trey on the evening. Cat-quick magician Jenn Kramer got eight rebounds and scrappy Rochelle Jackson got eight points, seven in the first half. The junkyard dogs – tough and intimidating players like Shela Robertson, Amanda Stull and Nicole Riddle – stood up defensively like welterweights and pretty much had their way in the paint, holding Baker to a low 30 percent accuracy from the field.

This Sunday, back home, a parade is planned to honor both teams for a season of excitement, growth and accomplishment. Time?

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