by Jack Kintner
Lady B’s shear Sedro-Woolley 62-33
a last-second loss at Nooksack Monday night the girls
came back on Tuesday with their fire re-lit, playing
with style and grace as they took out their frustrations
on the game but over-matched Sedro-Woolley Cubs 62-33.
“I was happy with their energy and intensity, especially after such a tough loss the night before,” said head coach Rob Adams.
Alyssa Hendrickson, who along with Katie Ross can at times lead this young team into the stratosphere, showed how it’s done by running and gunning Blaine to a quick 12-4 lead six minutes into the first quarter and outscoring them 22-6 in the second for a commanding 36-10 lead at the half.
Blaine basically took the ball away from SW at will, forcing 26 turnovers and out rebounding them by a lopsided 52-22, Bailey Richardson playing a scrappy backcourt to force drives and to support Blaine’s impressive offensive push.
Hendrickson ended up with 20 points, Kellee Harbst with 18 and 10 rebounds to get back into her double-double groove.
Blaine, now 4-9 on the season and 3-3 in league, takes to the road against a tough Burlington-Edison squad on Friday, January 26. Sehome comes to town next Tuesday, January 30, and then it’s back on the road for a key game against Bellingham next Thursday, February 1.
“It’s a key game for us because Bellingham, along with Mt. Baker and Lynden, is our main competition for a post-season berth,” said Adams.
Blaine, with the county’s fourth and ninth leading scorers in Hendrickson and Harbst, faces Lynden at home after Bellingham, plays on the road against Mt. Baker and then finishes at home against undefeated Anacortes on February 17 in Blaine.
Boys drop close contest with Troy 55-53
Borderites dropped a close one last Saturday night at
home, losing to the Meridian Trojans 55-53 in a contest
that would have been very nice to have had in their pocket
going into the last third of the season.
The one lopsided stat when all was said and done were the five treys Meridian sank, some at very opportune times, compared with none for Blaine.
The officiating, as happens more often than it should, was marginal at best – one wonders about career choices when you see people literally yawning on the job – but this did not cost Blaine the game any more than it gave Meridian the win. Meridian simply took charge in the closing seconds when temperamental but talented Trojan guard Tyler Slesk cooled off enough to score four points at just the right time in the closing seconds to secure the win.
Until then Blaine was in charge, answering Meridian’s repeated challenges and occasional score-tying runs with superior ball handling and timely shooting. Meridian, in fact, started cold, not scoring until almost three minutes into the first quarter. They quickly caught the Borderites, though, with their peculiar lumbering style of play combined with accurate shooting in the next couple of minutes to tie it at eight.
Blaine began the third quarter with a 9-2 run but by the end of it Meridian had cut their lead back to just one point. Blaine moved out ahead again by three in the fourth quarter after the tallest Trojan, 6’5” post Caleb Hazel, fouled out with 6:43 left, but halfway through the quarter a resilient Meridian captured the lead for the first time, 50-49, with 4:08 left in the game.
Blaine’s Connor Oldham fouled out with just under three minutes left and the score unchanged, then Blaine pulled ahead at 1:36 by three, 53-50, with what turned out to be the last Borderite points in the game, two key turnovers after that coming on calls that had Blaine partisans on their feet.
Blaine had more chances but Meridian evidently wanted it more, tying it at 53 with 32 seconds left and then going ahead with 18.9 seconds left on Slesk’s second pull-up jumper of the night.
Blaine inbounded and after the ball passed midcourt Coach Dan Rucker called time out with 10 seconds left. He drew a play that gave the ball to Mike Pianki in the corner to shoot for the tie, or the win if he could sink a three-pointer or a chance to do the same with free throws if he was fouled while shooting from beyond the three-point line.
Pianki got the rock as planned deep in the right corner with just two seconds left and got the shot off just before being decked by Meridian’s Andrei Lintz and Nate Mark. His shot bounced off the rim as he hit the floor with a loud thump heard all over the gym despite the crowd noise.
With no call despite the unnecessarily rough play, time expired with Pianki still in a heap and the Meridian players responsible, to their credit, showing some concern and offering him a hand up.
Nate Tewalt again had scoring honors for the game with 17 points and Pianki had 16. Joey Paciorek had 7, Connor Oldham 5, Justin Kirkwood 4 and Fred Johncox and Sean Hurta both had 2.
The loss leaves the Borderites at 1-5 in league play, 4-9 over-all, and in a bit of a hole in terms of the post-season.
Following a road game with an improving Sedro Woolley team that was played after press time, Blaine hosts a strong Burlington-Edison squad on Saturday, January 27, in the first of three final home games this season.
last time Blaine played Nooksack Valley they lost by
12. Last Monday they lost by two in a game that Blaine
might have had at the buzzer had Bailey Richardson’s
gutsy last-second shot gone in. The game was a make-up
for an earlier road date that was postponed due to snow.
“I really admire Bailey for taking that shot,” said head coach Rob Adams, who had seen his girls make up a nine point deficit in the last four minutes.
Buzzer-beaters are by their nature a high pressure shot that everyone wants to see made but few are willing to try. Richardson’s game attitude is getting tougher, though, and she was more than happy to take the chance. Though Blaine led after the first quarter 10-4 they were answered by Nooksack outscoring them in the second quarter 16-5. For the half Blaine shot a dismal 22 percent, sinking only 6 of 27 shots and feeling lucky to be only five points down.
After playing evenly in a 13-13 third quarter Blaine valiantly tried to climb out of the hole it had dug for itself, and almost did with a furious 7-0 run late in the game.
Richardson, who already had a trey to her credit, cast off from 15 feet with just a few ticks left on the clock, but the shot went wide, and with it went the victory.
But sloppy play cost Blaine a starter and a good bench player down the stretch even though they forced 13 turnovers as against giving the rock up seven times.
Alyssa Hendrickson got 15 in a low game for her, and Kellee Harbst got 12. Hendrickson and hustling guard Tessa Baker both added three-pointers.