Blaine boys team win two summer tournaments
by Jack Kintner
Next year�s edition of the Blaine high school boys basketball team under Coach Dan Rucker enters its fifth tournament of the summer this Saturday at Meridian high school, and so far the results point to a good season coming up. They�ve won three tournaments outright, and acquitted themselves well in the fourth against three and four A opposition while playing without a bench.
The first was the local Blaine Tip-Off Classic held the second weekend in June for 16 three-A and two-A schools. The Borderites defeated Nooksack, last year�s AA state titleist, and then beat the Semiahmoo Celtics, a large high school just across the border in South Surrey, in a close championship game. �They went ahead with less than two minutes to play,� said senior guard Ryan Alexander, �but [senior guard Jake] Gilmore and I both hit threes and then played keep-away to run out the clock.�
Next came a tournament at South Whidbey the following weekend which they also won, followed by the four-day, 94-team Gonzaga Basketball Camp in Spokane just before the long fourth of July weekend. �We played three games a day," said 6'2" senior forward Brendan Mulholland, �kind of like league play, and then, in the tournament that ended the camp, won our championship game against AAA Lake Stevens.�
Last weekend the team got the chance to jump into the Mt. Baker Shootout in Deming as a last-minute sub for a no-show four-A team, an offer that coach Rucker couldn�t refuse - the $300 registration fee was waived - even though the short notice meant playing without a bench, working with sometimes one and mostly no subs at all. Mulholland described it as a learning experience. �We got pretty tired, playing the whole game against teams with seven or eight players on their benches, but we held our own against four-A schools like Meadowdale, Centralia and Eisenhower, and two of the new guys, Jack Singh and Rommel Paez, learned a lot and really hung in there.� The Borderites lost to three-A Anacortes by three points and three-A Chehalis by just two.
The fifth tournament, this Saturday at Meridian High School, may see a Blaine team that�s short a few veterans due to family vacations but it�s still an impressive group. Next season�s starting line-up is all six footers: senior guards Alexander (6') and Gilmore (6"2"), sophomore center Ryan �Hondo� Goodwin (6'4"), junior forward Doug �Hollywood� Goldsby (6'2") and Mulholland. The three starting seniors are also next year�s captains.
Veteran junior center Alex Sylvester, a mobile backup for Goodwin and an inch taller at 6'5", promises to fit in well with an offense that Rucker promises will offer more running and more man-to-man defense. Alexander said that they�ve �been working a lot on fast breaks and transitions this summer. We�re gifted in having a good fast big man in Goodwin and a #1 go to guy in Jake Gilmore.� Gilmore was all-league last year as a junior - Mulholland was honorable mention - and has already been scouted by at least one NCAA Division II college in California.
�Our competition next year will be Meridian, and even though we�ve beaten them once already, Nooksack,� said Rucker. �Their junior varsity team went 18-2 last year, so they�ve got some good kids coming up. And Lynden Christian is always tough. But these kids work hard, as you can see, and they remember losing that regional game last year that kept them from going to state,� Rucker concluded.
Besides the weekend tournament at Meridian, Blaine fans have a chance to see next year�s team at home next Tuesday in a non-league scrimmage with the Friday Harbor Wolverines.