Sports -- March 09, 2006

Published on Thu, Mar 9, 2006
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SPORTS
by Jack Kintner

Boys basketball team calls it a season

After doubling their win total from last year, the Blaine boys basketball team bowed out for the season Saturday in Mount Vernon, losing to Nooksack Valley by 20 with a score of 52-32. It was their third loss in four tries for the state playoffs in the 2A Northwest district tournament ending an otherwise successful season.

It was an emotional game with Blaine players wearing pink armbands and observers wearing red and purple ribbons to honor their friends Kailey Walter and Brittney Armstrong, both 17, who died earlier in the week in an auto accident on Interstate 5. The two had been cheering on the Blaine boys during their victory match with Meridian last Tuesday in Mount Vernon, where the Borderites won 73-67, earning them a chance at third place in the Northwest district and a spot in the state tournament.
The Borderites gave a strong defense but were overshadowed by the Pioneers of Nooksack Valley, sending the Pioneers to the state tournament along with Lynden Christian.

The Pioneer’s good defense forced the Borderites to shoot less than a 20 percent clip early in the game. Blaine made three out of their 17 shots from the floor, giving them only eight points in the first 16 minutes and leaving them with a score of 17-8 at the end of the first half.

The Pioneers were not only defending Blaine shots well, they were also hitting nearly half of their shots at 48 percent. Although they were outscored by three with a count of 16-13 in the third quarter, they effectively controlled the tempo, slowing it down to keep the Borderites from putting together any sort of run.

The beginning of the fourth quarter began with the Borderites down by 12. However, the game was all but over with about six minutes remaining after a Pioneer hit a 3-point shot, increasing their lead to 15 with 36-21. This left the Borderites with only the option of sending Nooksack the free throw line the rest of the way where the Pioneers made 14 of their 20 attempted shots, giving them 70 percent during the fourth quarter.

Coach Dan Rucker said he thought the Blaine boys played exceptionally well given the circumstances.

“We didn’t shoot as well as I would have liked, but it was a very physical battle,” he said. “Every time we play Nooksack Valley it is. It was also especially difficult given the obstacles they faced this week to even come out and play as hard as they did. I’m really proud of everyone of them – not just because of their playing but because they’re very passionate and considerate people.”

Borderite player Nathan Dodgson, agreed.

“We made it a lot farther than people thought we would,” he said.
When asked how last week’s tragedy affected the game, Dodgson said, “It was sad but it also gave us something to play for. The community really came together and it just showed how supportive everyone is of each other.”