After losing a 53-51 nail-biter to Meridian High School on Tuesday, December 6, Blaine’s boys’ basketball team has entered an early-season losing streak. Tuesday’s two-point defeat marks the third consecutive loss by 4 points or fewer for the Borderites.
“There are no moral victories for me or these kids right now,” Blaine head coach Dougal Thomas said. “The last three games we have played good enough to win, and we haven’t figured out how to do it. We had the opportunities and just didn’t take advantage.”
Despite an early lead and a safe margin throughout most of the game, Blaine came apart in the fourth quarter. The Borderites dropped a 10-point lead in just under three minutes, thanks in part to Meridian’s aggressive half-court trapping and a couple of clutch three-pointers from Meridian’s Alijah Garcia.
Thomas said his team’s height isn’t suited for full-court presses.
“I want to keep my guys close to the basket because we are so big. We try not to extend too much,” Thomas said. “We did show some 1-3-1 [defense] late, and it took them out of their rhythm a bit. Defensively, we played good enough to win.”
Blaine senior Luke Feenstra made several pivotal defensive plays late in the game, including a block late in the third, a forced turnover at just under two minutes in the fourth, and a crucial diving steal effort with one minute remaining that would set up senior Andrew Price to go 1-for-2 on the line, pulling Blaine back within two points.
The Borderites had victory within reach after a Meridian shot clock violation gave Blaine possession with 19.4 seconds left. After running down the clock, Blaine’s ball movement found forward Chase Speelman for a pull-up jumper which hit just off, settling the dust at 51-53.
Tuesday’s outcome rang eerily similar to Blaine’s loss to La Conner on Saturday, December 3, in which Blaine held a 37-33 lead heading into the fourth period, only to end up suffering a 59-56 overtime defeat.
“This game and our La Conner game fared pretty similar. I think the kids got a little tight and perhaps a little too anxious,” Thomas said. “We may have started playing too conservatively. While we were playing on our heels, Meridian was up on their toes.”
Blaine (1-3) hosts Lakewood High School (1-2) for some cross-conference action at home Saturday, December 10, at 7:30 p.m.
“The kids have got to stay positive,” Thomas said. “At some point we are going to start winning these games.”