The Borderite boys’ basketball team lost to a talented Anacortes squad in a winter solstice conference game at home, but split two games in hosting the Blaine Holiday Invite with a 60-42 win over B.C. Christian Academy on December 28 and a 52-47 loss against Granite Falls December 29.
The Holiday Invite was a chance for two American teams, Blaine and 2A Cascade Conference Granite Falls, to play two Canadian teams: B.C. Christian Academy and Earl Marriott Secondary School. For unknown reasons, Earl Marriott never showed up for the tournament, but B.C. Christian Academy accepted the challenge of playing twice in one night.
B.C. Christian lost to Granite Falls, then played Blaine after a short break, despite the fact that two of their best players, six
foot-seven Sudanese refugees AC Cauw and Kosia Cauw, never made it across the border due to missing paperwork.
Blaine outplayed the short-sided Canadian team on Friday, winning 60-42, then faced a more equally matched Granite Falls squad on Saturday.
With sound play-running but a reluctance to take shots and an over-abundance of turnovers, Blaine came out flat-footed against the quick Granite Falls squad, falling to a 10-point deficit in the second quarter.
“It’s the same old story of coming out too slow,” coach Shaun Pile said after the Granite Falls game. “We’re good when we gain momentum, and I think we can hang with most teams when we’re on, but it’s taking too long to get there.”
In the second half, senior Jericho Probadora injected some much needed energy in the Blaine squad, scoring nine points by causing multiple turnovers and scoring on fast-break layups.
“Jericho jumpstarted the comeback by going strong to the basket,” Pile said. “I know he can do big things when he gets on a streak. Once he makes a shot, his confidence goes up, and he makes a lot of plays.”
Blaine seemed to shore up its mistakes on defense and offense in the second half, steadily chipping away at the Granite Falls lead.
Freshman Josiah Westbrook and senior Zach Rector contributed points in the second half, with a team-high 12 points in the game.
Blaine’s performance hit fifth gear in the fourth quarter, as Granite Falls was held to zero field goals, strong rebounding from senior Ryan Wallen and steady points from Probadora, Westbrook, Rector and senior Gabe Trump brought the Borderites to within four points, trailing 46-50 with 33 seconds left in the game.
But with too little time and too many fouls, Blaine was unable to take the lead and the game ended with Granite Falls on top 52-47.
“Our guys did a good job of not giving up and working hard right up until the end of the game,” Pile said, “But we needed to see that confidence and that hustle from the start of the game and from the whole team. I know it’s there, we just need to see it earlier.”
Blaine’s next opponent will be the Bellingham Red Raiders in an away game on Thursday, January 3.