The boys basketball team ended their season in the first round of the 1A Tri-District Tournament after losing a 43-42 nail biter to Port Townsend on February 12.
The heartbreaker came after the Borderites played three games in three days last week to earn a trip to the tournament. They rolled over Friday Harbor at home 59-45 February 7, then defeated Meridian in an away game the next night 68-61. They then lost to Mount Baker at Mountlake Terrace 66-62 on February 9 in the final consolation round of the district tournament. They advanced to tri-district as the fourth seed from District 1.
The fourth seeding meant Blaine had to make the long trip down to Port Townsend for the first round of play in the tri-district tournament. The game came down to the last second with the Borderites losing by one lousy point. With eight seniors on the team, head coach Shaun Pile said the mood on the long bus ride home was quiet and reserved.
“They really wanted this one,” Pile said. “They were really looking forward to another game against Mount Baker.”
The Borderites would have faced their arch-rival for the fifth time this season, but all hope of redemption against the Mountaineers was dashed after Port Townsend held their lead in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.
Down by four, Gabe Trump launched a trey from just inside half-court at the buzzer, but the three points were one shy of a tie, and the Borderites’ season ended abruptly.
Senior Zach Rector led the offense with 18 points. Displaying deadpoint accuracy, the 6'4" post player scored 12 of those points from beyond the three-point line.
“With most of the points from the last few games coming from Gabe Trump and Josiah Westbrook, we knew Port Townsend’s defense would be focused on them,” Pile said. “We told Zach he needed to be more aggressive and take more shots, and he did.”
Trump scored 16 points and Westbrook scored 10.
Having made it to playoffs for the first time since 2008 after heavy battles through the district tournament, Pile said there’s plenty his team should feel good about.
“For these guys to have played as well as they did and win a couple games in the post season, they should definitely hold their heads high,” he said. “We made it farther than I think a lot of people expected us to.”
At the start of the season, Pile said he had what some considered lofty goals – make it through the district tournament, and end the season on a level comparable to Mount Baker, Meridian and Lynden Christian. Blaine beat Meridian in February, ending their tournament run, and though the Borderites lost to Mount Baker three times this season, they never lost by more than four points.
Pile said he will take away good memories of the season, and will miss the senior crew next year.
“It’s going to be tough to replace eight seniors,” he said. “The leadership from all those guys made for some big shoes that will be tough to fill.”