Blaine gears up for postseason play

Published on Wed, Feb 5, 2014 by Ian Ferguson

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The Blaine basketball and wrestling teams are all barreling full-speed ahead into the postseason, where they will battle against their 1A opponents to extend the season as long as possible. 

Boys Basketball

Blaine’s performance in the regular season hasn’t turned many heads so far, but the team is in a good position for success in the postseason, especially given the steady improvement of a few key players.

With two wins over Mount Baker and a win over Nooksack Valley, the Borderites will likely be the fourth seed in Northwest Conference (NWC) 1A. With a 3–7 NWC record and 6–12 overall, Blaine leads Mount Baker and Nooksack Valley. However, if Mount Baker upset Meridian February 5 (results were unavailable at press time), Blaine’s standing will have improved to the third seed. Check our Facebook page for an update.

The Borderites will likely travel to Friday Harbor for the first round of the 1A District tournament at the higher-seeded school February 10. The game will begin at 5 p.m.

Josiah Westbrook has consistently led the Borderites in all phases of the game, but is out for the remainder of the season to focus on academics. Luckily, other players have drastically improved their game in the second half of the season. Sean Herrig is deadly from beyond the three-point line, and Carson Knutzen has upped his play as well as his shooting, allowing the Borderites to spread the ball around. Shaq Woods is a powerful presence underneath the basket, and has been putting more points on the board each game.

If the Borderites can put their best game forward, they have a good chance at making it through at least the first rounds of the district tournament.

Girls Basketball

With a formidable starting five and a deep, experienced bench, the Borderites make a tough opponent for any of their 1A foes, but the same can be said for four of the five teams in the conference this year.

Blaine is in second place in the NWC 1A seeding behind Lynden Christian. The Lyncs have a perfect 11–0 record in the conference, and are 16–3 overall, while the Borderites are 8–3 in conference and 13–6 overall. Mount Baker trails Blaine with a 6–4 record in conference and a 10–8 conference overall, and Nooksack Valley is two conference wins behind Mount Baker. 

Blaine will likely face Nooksack Valley in the first round of the 1A district tournament Tuesday, February 11 at home. The Borderites faced the Pioneers at Nooksack Valley on January 3, and barely scraped by with a 51–48 win.

The output of the starting five (Taylor V’Dovec, Mandy Hayes, Breanna Chau, Alexis McElwain and Olivia Olason) will be the key to Blaine’s success in the postseason. Hayes and V’Dovec are the high scorers on the team, while Chau leads in assists, McElwain leads in rebounds and Olason is a force on defense. Mikayla Deming, Rhianna Breedlove and Kjirstin Larson have also been key players in recent games.

The Borderites will have a tough road in the district tournament, but if they play with the intensity they are known for, they will make it through to the Tri-District tournament.

Boys Wrestling

The boys wrestling team is a top prospect for the district and a contender for the state title. They won the Northwest Conference (NWC) championship for the second year in a row, and have the depth to be a major challenge to any of their opponents.

From Stuey Rasar at 106 pounds to Mike Antczak at 285, Blaine has a strong wrestler in almost every weight class – a rarity and a huge team advantage in high school wrestling. One of their biggest obstacles will be Sedro-Woolley, a team that is equally deep and strong. The Borderites lost to the Cubs in a home dual meet in January, but went on to best Sedro-Woolley in the NWC tournament. The team will travel to Sedro-Woolley for the first round of the sub-regional tournament Friday, February 7. The Borderites will host regionals Saturday, February 15.

Girls Wrestling

The girls wrestling team has title prospects even though it consists of only two wrestlers: Olivia Adams and Hillary Kiele. Adams advanced to the state tournament last year, won the 130-pound division of the NWC tournament this year and is looking to make an impact in the district and state tournaments. The girls travel to Burlington-Edison for sub-regionals Saturday, February 11. Wrestling starts at 10 a.m.