by Jack Kintner
Off to state!
Last year as a sophomore Calvin Moore was Blaine’s lone representative to the state tournament. Last weekend Moore won his weight class (140) at the regional meet in Mountlake Terrace for the right to return to state, but he’ll be joined by nine teammates as Blaine sends the biggest contingent in a decade to the big show at the Tacoma Dome this weekend. Blaine finished third in the 16-team match behind Mt. Baker and Vashon Island
And, as frosting on the cake, Blaine’s head coach Craig Foster was named regional coach of the year by the other 15 coaches over Mt. Baker’s perennially successful Ron Lepper, who was quoted as saying graciously that Foster’s award, “was well deserved. It was a great day for those guys.”
Jordan (145), who’s made
a career out of performing under adversity, spent the
week prior to the tournament in bed with the flu and
missed practice. On Friday he still wasn’t sure
if he could make it. Nevertheless he found something
somewhere, and when the time came he rose like Lazarus
and made the trip, finishing 2-2 in the toughest weight
class in the tournament for a fifth place and a trip
to the show.
Blayne Brandenburger, who tore up the league this year at 189, finished second to Klahowya’s Jerid Sturman-Canyn for second. The team’s one senior, Matt Determan (160), got fourth place. Two of the three freshmen on Blaine’s squad, Mike Broyan (112) and Jesse Kilthau (119), moved on with third and fourth place finishes respectively.
Sam Abrams (125) got third, John Brady (130) got fourth, Shane Hicks (171) got a sixth and Corey Smith got a fourth at 275.
along with assistant coaches Scott Dodd and Jim Rasar,
created this team out of a squad that had just six boys
three years ago. “We looked at what had
happened and decided that we’d build on discipline,” Foster
said, “and found that the hard line we took about
not missing practice and so on began to attract a different
kind of kid.”
It also began to build a sense of team in a highly individual sport. In wrestling there’s no one to pass to when some goon is crunching your body into the shape of a flattened pretzel. But you can certainly hear the shouts of encouragement and advice from your teammates, and that has ignited more than one turn around in matches this year, and has been a big factor in the team’s over-all success. “Team first, me second” is the motto the coaches and wrestlers stick to, and it’s paying off well.
Mat Classic XVII, the two-day state tournament that gathers wrestlers from all divisions and weight classes together in a spectacle of combat worthy of ancient Rome, starts February 18 in the Tacoma Dome.
Blaine came close – very close – but in the end a conference win over Meridian slipped away as Joey Paciorek’s running buzzer-beater three point attempt from just inside mid-court fell about an inch short. Instead of sending the game into overtime tied at 58, the Trojans walked off with a very narrow 58-55 win.
“I’m really pleased with the effort these guys put out tonight,” said head coach Dan Rucker. It was strong by all measurements, with a good hands off defense effort sending most of the starters into the fourth quarter with only one foul.
Ironically, in the closing seconds with Blaine trying to foul Meridian to save time on the clock, they suddenly found they couldn’t buy a whistle until Paciorek gently but firmly decked Meridian guard Tyler Slesk. The ref dutifully tooted her disapproval while Paciorek offered a hand to help Slesk, who understood what was going on and why, back to his feet.
The front line of Goldsby, Goodwin and Paciorek combined for all but 10 of Blaine’s 55 points and all nine from beyond the arc. Paciorek led Blaine in assists (four) and both teams in rebounds with nine.
Blaine jumped on the Trojans in the beginning, opening up a 19-11 lead at the first quarter break. Meridian answered with a run of their own, outscoring Blaine 18-6 for the first half lead.
Blaine regained the lead early in the fourth quarter when Paciorek out-rebounded Tate Norris for a Blaine miss and then pumped it back in to go ahead by one, 46-45. Three minutes later it was tied again at 50. With 47 seconds left Blaine trailed 53-56 until Goldsby charged at the glass through a picket of burly Trojan defenders for a layup that moved Blaine within one, 55-56. Meridian converted both shots after Paciorek’s last foul to lead 58-55, setting up the attempt to go into overtime with a three-point shot.
With just a few seconds left Paciorek worked himself free after the in-bounds play, swiveled through a lackluster Meridian press, ran down the middle of the court and with an eye on the clock launched a high, arcing shot that seemed to leave his hands nanoseconds before the game-ending klaxon. Very cool, no showboating, just pure athleticism. This kid likes to win and next year will be a happier one for the whole team. The shot, still in the air when the buzzer itself ended, just missed, bouncing high off the rim to an audible groan from the stands, and that was that.
Assistant coach Red Goodwin agreed with Rucker after the game, saying that the team is “definitely coming together. We have attributes on the floor now that we didn’t have just two weeks ago. I’m looking forward to next year.”
The boys’ last home game is tomorrow night against Mt. Baker. Now is the time to show your support for a team that jelled late but, as Goodwin said, came together in the end.
Everything seemed to click, especially the defense, Tuesday night for the Lady B’s. It was a game they badly wanted to win, since it was the last home game for six seniors and the last “civil war” between sisters Jaci and Alyssa Hendrickson.
But the fourth-ranked 17-2 Lyncs saw to it that Blaine stayed winless in league play as they went on a 10-0 run in the last 3:09 of the game to win 49-36.
Blaine had the LC girls by the throat much of the first half, holding them to just 15 points, shooting a cold 26 percent from the floor. LC’s primary offensive weapon, 6'5" Janelle “the Giant” Aupperlee, had just three points as Blaine built up a 19-15 halftime lead.
Blaine lost the lead at 2:12 of the third quarter when LC broke a 24-all tie. The score stood at 28-24 LC at the beginning of the final period. The gutsy Jen Kramer, playing her last home game as a Borderite, twice pulled the Lady B’s within one point in the middle of the quarter with Ray Allen-type jump shots. Blaine’s last gasp was with three minutes left when Alyssa Hendrickson sank two free throws to pull within three at 36-39.
Those were the last points Blaine would score as the Lyncs went on a tear, scoring 10 unanswered points to win going away.
Blaine gave up a significant rebounding edge, 38 to 21, though Kramer wasn’t intimidated (as usual) by giving up seven inches in height to Aupperlee, scoring 10 and snagging four rebounds for the evening. Another bright spot was the play of sophomore post Luisa Wood who finished with eight points.
The Lady B’s close out their season tonight, February 17 at Mt. Baker. Game time is 7:30 p.m.