The Blaine-Meridian rivalry ensured a packed home gym Friday night as the Borderites took on the Trojans in a Northwest Conference (NWC) matchup. Parking was tight and the hometown crowd was raucous as the two boys basketball teams battled every inch of court space. In the end, Meridian’s Garcia brothers – Edward and Alijah – proved too much for Blaine’s defense, propelling Meridian to a 59-49 win.
“We gave them the lane and they made too many lay-ins and second-chance points,” Blaine freshman Josiah Westbrook said after the game.
Westbrook worked hard all game to cause turnovers and drive to the basket, scoring 10 points for Blaine. “In the second half, we couldn’t penetrate on offense, so we had to shoot a lot of threes,” he added.
Senior Gabe Trump was up to the three-point challenge. In an inspired display of outside-shooting accuracy, Trump scored four three-pointers to finish with a game high 22 points.
Despite Trump’s strong offensive performance, Blaine couldn’t contain the Garcia brothers, who scored 27 points between
them for Meridian.
The Trojans built a 39-25 lead by the end of the third quarter. Led by Trump’s outstanding shooting, Blaine battled hard in the fourth and cut Meridian’s lead at one point to seven, but the Trojans held on to win 49-59.
While not the finish the fans wanted, they were treated to a exciting and hotly contested basketball game in a packed gymnasium.
“On a Friday night in a little town, that’s what’s supposed to happen,” game announcer John Liebert said.
Four days later, on January 22 the boys played another thrilling home game against Mount Baker. Coming out strong, the Borderites managed to hold a 37-34 lead by the end of the third quarter. However, the Mountaineer’s swarming defense forced critical turnovers and missed shots in the final quarter, and Mount Baker outscored Blaine 22-17. The final score was Mount Baker 56, Blaine 54.
Senior Zach Rector led Blaine’s scoring with 12 points, with Trump and junior Isaiah Jackson scoring 11 points apiece. Jackson also had double-digit rebounds for Blaine.
Mount Baker was led in scoring by 6'4" junior Reuben Murashov, who scored a game high 19 points. The Mountaineers have five wins and 11 losses this season, with a NWC record of two wins, six losses.
The loss now brings Blaine’s record to one win, eight losses in conference play. They are one up from the basement in 1A Northwest Conference standings, ahead of Nooksack Valley. But to followers of the team, scores and standings don’t tell the whole story.
“From the start of the season, [Head Coach] Shaun [Pile] has done an outstanding job of changing the culture and changing the attitude,” said Blaine vice principal and athletic director Wayne Vezzetti.
The boys basketball team has four more games in the regular season, with the next matchup at Lynden Friday, January 25.
Lynden is undefeated in conference play.