The Blaine boy’s basketball team found themselves in an all-too-familiar position at halftime of their contest at Sehome Friday, January 21.
Bogged down by 16 turnovers caused by the Mariner’s pressure defense, mired by two for 17 shooting from the field and crippled by five for 12 shooting from the free throw line, the Borderites were in the hole by 16 at the break.
This was coming off a week that saw Blaine lose by 58 to Mt. Vernon. Working with a lineup without Todd Bird (broken finger) and Dustin Dhanani (illness), instead of packing it in, the Borderites came off the deck and put together one of their best quarters of basketball this season.
Blaine rallied to cut the lead in half before falling to the Mariners 51-42 in a Northwest conference game that was also part of the NWC’s Coaches versus Cancer series during the week.
Blaine opened the second half firing a robust 9-for-15 in the third quarter led by reserve Luke Feenstra, who was pressed into service after Chase Speelman got into foul trouble early as well as struggling with an injury.
Feenstra’s aggressive offensive play got him eight points on the night and shifted the tone of the game.
Blaine outscored the Mariners 17-11 in the stanza, twice cutting the Sehome lead to eight. A basket by Sehome’s Charlie Linneman and a free throw by Colin Peterson extended the lead back to 14 near the end of the period, but a furious series that saw Andrew Price score twice, cut the lead back to 41-31 at the start of the third quarter. Price led Blaine with 16 points.
The final quarter was played to a virtual standstill as the Mariners finally held off Blaine.
“I thought Sehome stepped up and answered every time we had a chance to the break the game under eight points,” Blaine head basketball coach Dougal Thomas said in an e-mail. “I am very pleased the way we responded after coming out of the Mt. Vernon game.”
Blaine will look back and see the opportunities lost at the free throw line as the culprit. Taking advantage of Sehome’s aggressive press, the Borderites got to the line 22 times in the game only hitting seven, which included missing the front end of three one and ones.
“Had we gone 14 for 22, I think it would have changed the game and possibly the outcome,” Thomas said.
Throughout the week in the NWC, teams nominated honorary coaches to represent them in the Coaches versus Cancer fundraising effort. The Borderites selected senior student trainer Vana Tipton.
Tipton, who played basketball during her freshman season, was forced to leave a game injured from a sharp elbow to her left side that left her cramping and making it difficult to breath.
As Tipton failed to recover from the injury over time, suspicions that a broken rib might be the culprit were explored. Further examination revealed that Tipton had pancreatic cancer. She was treated with surgery and has been cancer free for nearly three years.
“I like being involved,” said Tipton, “this allows me to still be a part of the team. Because of my surgery, I can’t play sports anymore, but I can be involved by being a trainer.”
Tipton will also be serving on the committee for the “Relay for Life” for a second year.
“I’m making sure this cancer doesn’t come back for my grandpa, who couldn’t see me now,” Tipton concluded in an email.
The Borderites return home for two games in three days against Meridian and Bellingham. Despite the thinning ranks, including the nagging injury to Speelman, Thomas is optimistic after his team’s performance.“If we continue progressing,” Thomas noted, “I believe we will pick up a couple of wins down the stretch.”
Photos by Blaise Bookout