Girls on seven-win streak

Published on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 by Ian Ferguson

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In the second to last scheduled game of their regular season, the girls basketball team traveled to Sedro Woolley and won their seventh game in a row by shutting down their opponent’s offense. The win advances the girls’ record to 14 wins, five losses, with a Northwest Conference (NWC) record of 8-3.

The Borderite defense nearly shut out the Cubs in the first quarter for a score of 22-2.

Led by sophomore Mandy Hayes who scored 19 points,  scoring for the Borderites was balanced, with junior Alexis McElwain scoring 14, sophomore Breanna Chau scoring 11, and sophomore Taylor V’Dovec scoring 10. By game’s end, the score was Blaine 55, Sedro-Woolley 32.

The girls played Lynden for the first time this season at home January 25, and secured their first victory against the Lions since the ’07-’08 season. With a dialed-in performance supported by the Friday night home crowd, the Blaine girls built up a 16-7 lead in the first half, and weathered a strong Lynden comeback to win 37-26.

The Lynden game was part of the state-wide Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser. Donations were collected and combined with proceeds from halftime shooting contests over the last several home games. Blaine’s honorary coach for the night was six-year-old Abbigale Bott, a local cancer patient who has battled the disease and who is in remission.

Blaine athletic director Wayne Vezzetti said there wasn’t a dry eye in the gymnasium when Abby’s story was told.

“It was very moving,” he said. “She’s a brave, amazing girl.”

According to Vezzetti and athletic coordinator Steve Miller, approximately $300 was raised that night, for a total of about $1,700 over the course of January from Blaine fans. The funds raised will go to support cancer efforts at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham.

From the opening tipoff against Lynden, the Borderite defense was solid, and would have shut out the Lions in the first quarter but for a last minute field goal from Lynden’s Taylor VanDalen. Scoring from McElwain, V’Dovec and Hayes brought the score to 13-2 Blaine after one quarter. 

Blaine’s dominance in the first quarter must have prompted Lynden head coach Rob Adams to threaten to pull the fire alarm and pack up the bus if his girls didn’t step up their game. 

Adams managed to stoke some fire into the Lions’ effort, and they steadily evened the score after the first quarter to come within six points of Blaine (26-20) by the end of the third quarter. Blaine held on to the lead, and pulled away in the fourth quarter with shots from the free-throw line to win 37-26.

From the start of the second quarter, Lynden shored up its shot defense and the Borderites struggled to sink baskets. 

Despite shooting droughts, the Borderites never waned in energy and persistence, and their aggressive offense translated into foul shot opportunities.

“We talk about mental toughness and amnesia,” head coach Ryan Pike said after the game, describing his team’s ability to forget about past shot attempts and focus on the game at hand.

“The girls have done a great job of staying positive on the court,” he said.

They forced 17 turnovers, and matched Lynden in rebounds. Hayes led the game in scoring with 15 points, and V’Dovec hauled in a game-leading 13 rebounds for Blaine. Sophomore Breanna Chau, while uncharacteristically inaccurate (she scored seven out 15 free-throws and no field goals for Blaine), was a major presence on the court with four rebounds, three assists, and four steals.

Miller called it, “a fantastic game,” while Pike described it as “another roadblock that we’re happy to be over.”

With the win over Lynden, the Borderites were hoping to secure a second-place seed heading into 1A District playoffs by defeating Friday Harbor and Sedro-Woolley, and with a Nooksack Valley win over Lynden Christian. However, Lynden-Christian beat Nooksack Valley, and Blaine has clinched the third seed.

On January 26 Blaine hosted Friday Harbor, and the home team cruised to a comfortable win in Northwest District play. Blaine jumped out to a 15-6 lead in the first quarter, and steadily built that lead throughout the game. Hayes racked up 19 points, and McElwain and Chau scored eight apiece.

Junior Rhianna Breedlove, sophomore Mikayla Deming, and sophomore Emily Roe contributed five, three and two points respectively coming in off the bench. V’Dovec scored six points.

Defensively, the Borderites forced 32 turnovers with a half court press that Friday Harbor rarely broke. The final score was 53-25 Blaine.

The girls play their final regular season NWC game at Burlington-Edison Friday, February 1. They will take on Mount Baker at home Monday, February 4 as the number three seed in the first round of the 1A girls district basketball tournament.