In what Blaine hoops fan John Liebert called their best game so far this season, the girls basketball team outscored the Eatonville Cruisers 56 – 33 and earned a trip to the regional tournament.
Head coach Ryan Pike said the keys to winning the game, which was played at Lynnwood High School February 16, were balanced scoring and reducing turnovers in the second half. Four Borderites scored in the double digits, and Blaine reduced its turnovers from 10 in the first half to five in the second.
“We played our game,” Pike said. “When we get the shots we want, spread the shooting around, and keep the turnovers down, we’re tough to stop.”
After a slow start, sophomore Taylor V’Dovec jump-started the offense with seven consecutive points late in the first quarter for Blaine. She went on to score 13 points, haul in seven rebounds and steal the ball four times.
Sophomore Mandy Hayes scored the most points on the court with 15, displaying her shooting range with three-pointers, layups and mid-court jump shots. Sophomore point guard Breanna Chau scored 10 points for the Borderites, including a buzzer-beating three-pointer at halftime that carried a wave of momentum into the second half, when Blaine pushed its lead from 11 at the start of the third quarter to 23 by game’s end.
Junior Alexis McElwain led the Borderites in rebounds and assists with eight and four respectively, and put 11 points on the board.
On defense, Blaine was overbearing. The girls forced 21 turnovers, stole the ball 10 times and held Eatonville to 22 percent shooting accuracy.
On top of that, Pike said, “(Eatonville) didn’t get a lot of offensive rebounds.”
The win clinches the fifth seed in the tri-district tournament, and sends the Borderites to the regional round of the state tournament for the second year in a row.
“They’re ecstatic,” Pike said, “but they say they’re not satisfied yet. They want to go back to Yakima.”
Last year Blaine was knocked out of the state tournament by White River and W. F. West.
This year, Blaine has to go through Castle Rock to get there – a matchup that could be Blaine’s biggest challenge so far this season. Undefeated, Castle Rock is the number one ranked team in 1A.
“They’ve been beating their opponents by 20 points,” Pike said. “I’m expecting a very good team.”
On the other hand, Pike said, “We’re well balanced. You take away one shooter, and someone else steps up. We want to go to Yakima, and we’re going to work hard this week and see if we can make it happen.”
The Blaine girls play Castle Rock at W. F. West high school at 8 p.m. Friday, February 22.