Several of the starters on this year’s Borderites girls’ basketball team were playing in the game last March when White River knocked Blaine out of the Class 2A quarterfinals, ending a promising state tournament run for the Borderites.
But over Christmas break, the girls earned redemption against their former rivals. In their second of two games at the Cloud 9 Sports Lynden Christian Christmas Classic, Blaine moved past last year’s defeat with a resounding 54-51 victory over top-ranked 2A White River on December 28.
“They really wanted to get them back,” coach Ryan Pike said. “The girls really seem to step up to the big games.”
The Borderites played with tact and aggression on defense, out-rebounding the taller team 34-26, and executing 10 steals. Blaine played man-to-man defense the entire game, a departure from their usual zone defense strategy.
“We challenged the girls to play man-to-man, and they wanted to do it,” Pike said. “They were asking, ‘Hey, can I cover this girl?’ and I was like, ‘If you ask for it, you better do a good job,’ and all the girls really stepped up to the challenge.”
Offensively, passing and sharing the ball to create opportunities led to a truly team-wide scoring effort.
All five starters put points on the board for Blaine, with sophomore Taylor V’Dovec scoring 11, junior Alexis McElwain nine, junior Olivia Olason seven, and sophomore Breanna Chau four.
Junior Rhianna Breedlove contributed four valuable points coming off the bench.
Sophomore Mandy Hayes played a leadership role in the victory against White River both offensively and defensively, Pike said. Hayes held White River’s leading scorer Kennedy Hobert to 14 points and scored a team high 19 points.
Blaine gained the lead in the second quarter and never looked back, leading 42-29 at the start of the fourth quarter. The number one ranked White River team didn’t lay down and came back to within three points by the final buzzer, but Blaine held on with a strong team effort and balanced scoring.
“I love how we played,” Pike said. “It was an unbelievable team effort that we put together.”
“They played like they can,” he continued, “and that’s what I’ve been waiting for all season. It was the first time, I think, where we played a full 32 minutes of good basketball in every respect. That’s what it takes to beat the good teams, and that’s what they did.”
With three weeks left in the regular season, and after starting conference play 0-2, Pike said he hopes to snowball the victory against White River into more wins moving forward.
The Borderites lost their other game in the tournament against Cascade Christian 47-40, December 27. Cascade Christian won with solid outside shooting, scoring 27 of 47 points off of three-pointers.
“They got us with their three-pointers,” Pike said, “but it was a good game, and we’ll see them again in the tri-district tournament.”
Neither of the Christmas tournament games counted toward conference standings, but a victory against Anacortes on December 21 brings the girls’ Northwest Conference record to 1-2.
Sophomore Taylor V’Dovec scored 14 of 24 field goal attempts for a team-high 31 points, leading her team to a 58-48 victory over Anacortes.