As the Blaine boys’ basketball team learned on Tuesday, January 24, at Meridian High School, sometimes it’s the fundamentals that cause the most trouble.
After exchanging leads that never exceeded five points, the Borderites were eventually undone by their own poor free-throw shooting, falling 50-48 in overtime.
“[Free throws] were the big difference tonight,” Blaine coach Dougal Thomas said. “I think we were 0 for 4 in overtime.”
The Borderites shot just four for 12, 33 percent, from the line, while the Trojans went 16 for 19, 84 percent. The loss marks the Borderites’ eighth straight defeat since December 17.
Chase Heslep, Meridian’s 6-foot, 8-inch post, proved troublesome for the Borderites’ inside men, hitting up Blaine for a game-leading 19 points and eight rebounds.
Trojans Alijah Garcia and Denver Vanderyacht each added eight points. Vanderyacht also grabbed seven rebounds.
Thomas said the Trojans’ height in Heslep and 6-foot, 7-inch Logan Carlson provided some tougher contention down low.
“[The height] changes things for us a little bit,” Thomas said. “Heslep was a beast tonight. I also thought Vanderyacht had some buckets that were just huge.”
Gabe Trump and Dejan Stefanovic lead the Borderites’ offense with 13 points each. Stefanovic grabbed a team-leading six rebounds, while Trump added four.
“I think I played well,” Trump said. “The shots were falling for me, but it was just a tough game.”
Tuesday was Trump’s third consecutive double-digit scoring night.
“[Trump] has been doing that pretty much since we got back [from winter break],” Thomas said. “He played a good game for us again.”
Blaine guard Zach Rector also hit double digits Tuesday, scoring 10 points and grabbing three boards.
With 16 seconds left in regulation, Stefanovic grabbed an offensive board off a missed Borderite layup and scored a put back to tie the game at 44-44, which would remain unchanged, sending the game into overtime.
“Our offense was working well in moving the ball inside and outside tonight,” Stefanovic said. “But there were a couple crucial free throws in overtime, and I think that is what cost us the game.”
Meridian point guard Alijah Garcia was sent to the line with nine seconds remaining in overtime, only to hit both free throws and lay the score to rest at 50-48, Trojans.
Tuesday’s loss sets the Borderites’ losing streak at eight games. The Borderites’ record is now 1-7 on the Northwest Conference and 3-12 overall.
Blaine next heads to Bellingham to take on the Red Raiders on Friday, January 27. Tip off is at 7:30 p.m.