Sports -- March 15, 2001

Published on Thu, Mar 15, 2001
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SPORTS

by Neil MacDonald

Dog Days for Blaine boys
It was two and out for Blaine against a pair of Greyhounds in the 2A State Basketball Championships at Yakima. The Borderites bowed 56-47 to the ’Hounds of Grandview, CWAC titleist and third-ranked team in the state, on March 7 and fell 55-40 to the ’Hounds of Pullman in the consequent loser-out game on March 8.

The Pullman game was characterized by a near 10-minute scoring drought by Blaine in the middle quarters and a near five-minute skein when the Borderites put a lone deuce through the hoop. Blaine’s mid-Q non-scoring streak was accompanied by Pullman’s putting 10 points on the scoreboard. The near drought came at game’s end.

With just under five minutes left in the game, Blaine trailed Pullman by three points and the outcome was up for grabs. Unfortunately for the Double B’s, the drysiders did the grabbing as Pullman popped in 14 points to Blaine’s two.

The outstanding statistics of the game included the Greyhounds hitting 7 of 20 treys, five of them by the contest’s leading scorer Brian Christie, who got 20 points for Pullman. The ’Hounds scored one less point by way of treys than Blaine did by way of deuces.

Strategy-wise, the game turned on Pullman’s ability to shut down the Double B’s inside game and Blaine’s inability to either match or mute the ’Hounds perimeter success.

Blaine’s opener with Grandview was decided on cough-ups and foul shots. The Double B’s were in the game for 30 of its 32 minutes, but couldn’t overcome an 18-9 deficit in turnovers, a 21-12 liability in fouls and a Grandview 84 percent (16 of 19) foul shooting rate.

Blaine’s hopes were high when the B’s forged a 4-0 lead as Grandview stumbled and bumbled in the early going. Greyhound freshman Phil Candanoza, who would account for 28 points (50 percent of his team’s scoring) before the game was over, had missed an eight-footer, a trey and an easy lay-up before he dipped a deuce in to jump start the GG’s scoring at 4:10 of Q1.

The BB’s followed with a skein of seven to go ahead 11-2. Candanoza then hit a trey in the closing seconds of Q1, but it didn’t appear ominous. Blaine had outplayed Grandview throughout the quarter, but the GG’s were about to go thermonuclear with Candanoza as their warhead.

Blaine had moved ahead 13-5 in Q2 when the explosion came. Candanoza scored Grandview’s next 13 points with three deuces, two treys and a foul success. By half-time the GG’s had a 23-19 lead, but the BB’s were still in the game.

Grandview started the second half like Greyhounds – running. They were also gunning, outscoring Blaine 14-8 and forging a 10-point lead by Q3’s end. The Borderites closed to within six by 1:57 of the final Q, but had to buy time to score by continually fouling the GG’s. The BB’s got 10 points using this foul and pray philosophy, which meant the GG’s only needed to score three freebies to win 48-47. They scored 11 of 13.

Charlie Franklin led the Border boys in both tilts, scoring 20 against Grandview and 12 against Pullman. Keith Williams got 10 in the GG game and Kekoa Davidson had nine points and eight rebounds in the PG fray.

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Lady B’s: wait ‘til next year...
Blaine basketball coach Pat Green emphasized that his team was only in the first half of their season all season long. He was absolutely correct.

Without a single senior on the roster, the dozen Double B’s who went to State last week will be back on court in December, seeking to return and, as Green was so eloquently quoted in the media, not coming away with “this feeling again.”

Losing does have its downside, but opting for optimism is usually more constructive.

Although topped 63-37 by Ephrata in a second round rumble on March 8 and dropped 57-44 by Chelan in a loser-out consolation clash on March 9, the Lady B’s showed signs of future fortune. They turned Newport’s Grizzlies into an endangered species on March 7, beating the Griz 56-42 in the opening round and sending them into the loser-out bracket where they were eliminated.

The Chelan conflict saw the Lady B’s top the Goats 2-0 in treys, 46-35 in rebounds, 8-2 in assists and, oops, 24-14 in fouls and 20-11 in turnovers. The Lady G’s had the edge in floor shooting, hitting 19 of 54 (35 percent) to Blaine’s 16 of 51 (31 percent). Most of all, Chelan had freshman Sarah Schramm, a 5’11” sliver of quickness and star about to go supernova.

Trying to stop her was a bit like trying to rope a rabbit with a frayed rope. She slipped into Borderite territory so easily and often that it appeared she had diplomatic immunity. The areas under the baskets at each end were her domain as she put in 25 points, got 14 rebounds and out-played everyone on the court. Her output was augmented by Nikki Haerling, who hit for 20 points.

The Lady B’s stayed with the Lady G’s for the first 14 minutes, before Schramm broke a 26-26 tie with a 13-footer to start an eight-point Chelan run that gave Chelan a 34-26 halftime lead. Blaine kept close as the teams each scored 10 points in Q3, but Chelan outscored Blaine 13-8 in Q4 to win by a Baker’s dozen.

Anna Sticklin paced the Lady B’s with 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Lynsey Taylor pocketed 10 points. Jessica Summers and Becky Riddle matched Sticklin with eight rebounds each.

The Lady B’s toughest opponent, Ephrata, presented Blaine with the problem of defending against Michelle Mickle, who hit for 23 points, and a trio of net-finders – Paula Reynolds, Alain Bowman and Jennifer Flannery – who each scored nine points.

The Borderites won the long-range missile match-up, putting eight 3-pointers on the trey to six by Ephrata. The T’s had an edge inside with Mickle dominating the dunking.

ET’s offensive strength was augmented by their defensive ability to bewitch, bother and bewilder Blaine’s offense, which lost the ball 23 times on turnovers, including 16 cough ups in the first half alone. This was decisive considering the Lady T’s ability to hit from near and far with consistency. Ephrata exhibited their assembly line efficiency in producing points in Q2, outscoring Blaine 23-6.

Gang Green’s opening round win over Newport affirmed the Lady B’s place among the select 16. The Grizzlies took an early lead, but a Taylor-made 10-foot jumper halfway through Q1 put the Lady B’s ahead 5-4, a lead the Borderites never relinquished.

Against Newport, Blaine had to either contain 5’11” junior guard Rose Sauer, who came on court with a 22.5 ppg average, or limit all the remaining Lady G’s to no more than Sauer’s 22 or 23 point quota to win.

The latter solution prevailed. Sauer, as premier performers do, rose to the occasion and got her quota of 22 points while Blaine’s defensive blockade hindered, hampered, hobbled and held all other Newport success-seekers to 20 points.

Sticklin, the second hoop Houdini on the floor, matched Sauer’s output with 22 points of her own. Jessica Summers, the freshman half of Blaine’s S-and-S scoring punch, tossed in 15 points, surpassing Newport’s second-highest scorer Katie Schlotthauer who hit for nine, by six points.

The remaining Lady B scorers – Taylor 7, Shela Robertson 4, Krista Walter 3, Kristina Francis 3 and Riddle 2 – agitated the air inside the iron ring for 19 points while the rest of the Lady G’s stirred the netted atmosphere for 11. This eight-point spread and Summers’ six-point edge over Schlotthauer spotlighted the importance of having an abundance of potential point-producers.

The visit to State was both disappointing and “a pointing.” Disappointing because the Lady B’s were one of the two winners on opening day who didn’t return with a trophy. “A pointing” because the team’s performance gave notice of things to come in the season’s second half. As Dodger fans used to say, “Wait ’til next year.”

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Neil's Notes
Age Record Set
Blaine’s doyen of distance, Diane Palmason, set a 60-69 age group record of 28:48 in the women’s four mile event at the annual Run for the Honeywagon half marathon on March 3 in Everson.

Newell to head Bells
Blaine High School principal Dan Newell has been named head coach and director of baseball operations for the Pacific International League’s Bellingham Bells.

Newell takes over for Rob Crawford, who guided the Bells for the past two seasons.

Dan’s baseball background includes being drafted out of Sehome High School by the Atlanta Braves, playing pro and scouting for the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals. He coached the Bells in 1977-78, at Western Washington University and several high schools, including Blaine, Ferndale, Nooksack and Sehome.

The Bells primarily draw their talent from Division I players with NCAA eligibility to continue playing college ball. His son Jesse Newell, who presently plays for Southeast Louisiana University, is expected to play for the Bells and oldest son, Brandon, who scouts for the Milwaukee Brewers, is expected to provide recruiting assistance.

You came a long way, Borderites...
We tip our The Northern Light hats to the Blaine girls and boys basketball teams, both their coaches and players.

Common sense tells us that the Blaine girls and boys basketball teams had superb seasons.

Boys’ coach Dan Rucker essentially surrounded varsity returnee Charlie Franklin with a bunch of junior varsity kids and molded a team capable of reaching State. Few pundits predicted Rucker’s charges would even make it to district, let alone the Select Sixteen at State.

Girls’ coach Pat Green was expected by most experts to take his charges to district, but after that all bets were off. The senior-less Lady B’s were considered too light on experience to go very far. But Pat’s Green gang became Gang Green to its foes and did make it to State, did defeat Newport and did come within a game of coming away with a trophy. It took Ephrata, who finished second at State, and Chelan, who came seventh, to stop Blaine’s girls.

To paraphrase the famous 18th Century sportswriter Tom Paine, it’s no time to be a Sunshine Fan. Congratulations Dan, Pat and their Borderite boys and girls, for a job well done.

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