Late surge falls just short for Borderite girls

Published on Wed, Jan 11, 2012 by Kevin Minnick

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Burlington-Edison bumped the Blaine girls’ basketball team down from its first place Northwest Conference (NWC) perch following a 56-51 Tigers victory at Burlington-Edison High School on Tuesday, January 10.

The loss snapped a five-game Borderite win streak and dealt Blaine their first conference loss of the season. Oddly enough, their last loss was against the Tigers on December 13.

“We maintained a lot of energy tonight,” Blaine coach Jeremy Hinchey said. “I think with that energy came more confidence, and we started making some shots. The problem was our first-half shooting stats.”

Second chances were also an issue, as Blaine was out-rebounded 40-27.

Blaine (4-1 NWC, 9-3 overall) outscored Burlington-Edison 29-25 in the second half, but the resurgence wasn’t enough to overcome a 15-point first-half deficit. Burlington-Edison senior Ryleigh Swagerty posted a game-high 17 points and junior Ellary Torset dominated the post for 15 points.

Blaine freshmen Mandy Hayes and Breanna Chau led the Borderites with 13 points apiece. Both hit two late-game three-point field goals as well. Senior Stefawn Perrin followed close behind with 11 points, while sophomore Alexis McElwain added 10 points and grabbed a team-leading eight rebounds.

“[Chau and Hayes] played outstanding,” Hinchey said. “And we gave a good team effort in the fourth quarter. I’m sure some of our girls would like to have that first half back, but that’s basketball.”

Chau would be fouled twice within 30 seconds midway through the fourth quarter, hitting all four free throws and pulling the Borderites to within five points.

Following a turnover fast break, senior Amber Johnson hit a jumper to tighten Burlington-Edison’s lead to 50-47 with just more than three minutes remaining. This would be the closest Blaine ever reached to Burlington-Edison.

The Borderites maintained a 3-point margin for several intense minutes before resorting to late-game fouls, granting the Tigers several costly trips to the free throw line.

“We didn’t want to give up on anything,” Hayes said. “In the beginning we weren’t shooting with confidence, but toward the end we did, and we began to play better as a team. I think losing this game made us better.”

Blaine faces another tough opponent in Anacortes starting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 12, at Blaine High School. The Seahawks hold a similar conference record of 4-1 (7-5 overall).

“[Anacortes] are going to be a lot like [Burlington-Edison],” Hinchey said. “They are going to zone us up a lot and pressure to try to make the game go fast. It should be a good matchup.”