Sports -- February 12, 2004

Published on Thu, Feb 12, 2004
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SPORTS
by Jack Kintner

Basketball: Girls win, boys still in first

In a physical contest that sometimes seemed more like mud wrestling than basketball, Blaine�s girls overcame a physical Mt. Baker offense and beat them by 16 points, 56-40, remaining undefeated at 16-0 (12-0 NCC).

The referees whistled off fifty fouls, 23 for Blaine and 27 for Baker, keeping the game from developing much momentum as teams lurched from free throw to free throw. Jessica �Stretch� Summers and Shela Robertson, Blaine�s two best players, got into foul trouble early and cooled their heels on the bench for some long minutes in the third and fourth quarters.

That gave center court battler Amanda Stull and firefly-nimble Rochelle Jackson a chance to both counter-punch in the trenches and stupefy Baker with ball handling they�ve not seen since the Globetrotters. More than once Stull grabbed rebounds and then stood her ground like a parking lot bollard while the lesser lights from Deming slapped vainly at the ball. More than once Jackson showed up where a rebound was about to be and then dribbled away from trouble, sometimes along the baseline under the basket in what hockey fans call Wayne Gretzky territory behind the goal.

Baker junior forward Stephani Kier was the only player to foul out. Summers, who scored 20 points for another in a string of double doubles, got 16 of Blaine�s 41 team rebounds to 23 for Baker. Baker outshot Blaine at the stripe 66 percent to 51 percent but from the field was a cold 27 percent to Blaine�s 42 percent. In all, eight players shared in the scoring for Blaine: Francis got nine points including the nights only trey, Harmening 8, Jackson 3, Kramer 1, Nix 4, Robertson 10, Stull 1 in addition to Stretch�s 20.

Boys suffer first home loss, hang on to first place
Employing a strategy similar to what their Mt. Baker girls tried on Blaine the previous night, the Baker Boys invaded Blaine�s gym last Friday and took a five point victory away with them back down the freeway. Blaine�s Jake Gilmore was high scorer for the evening with 24 but as Coach Dan Rucker noted, �the team�s in the top half of this league are very evenly matched.�

Blaine led 14-7 at the end of the first quarter and 22-20 at the half, holding Baker scoreless for long periods, but the Mounties came back for the lead at the end of three by five, 36-31. Blaine tied it at 39 with five minutes to go and took the lead 42-41 50 seconds later. The end came as Doug Goldsby fouled Keith Williams who was given continuation by the referees, making his basket after the foul count and when he sank his free-throw, it gave Baker a four-point lead. Blaine closed to within three and had possession at the end, looking for a trey to tie, but Baker senior guard Whit the snit Tyler stole the ball for a flashy, fast break lay-up that iced the game.

Baker fans went wild, finally breaking through after four straight losses. Their revenge was sweet against Blaine, who�d started their losing streak a week earlier. To make sure the point was not lost on Blaine fans the Mounties even came back out of the locker room for a raucous curtain call in the middle of Blaine�s floor surrounded by the estatic denizens of Deming. Bad taste, maybe, but they deserved the credit, having come back aggressively wanting to win, and they did.

Blaine is still in first with three games left (and last night�s Meridian score unavailable at press time) with a league record of 10-2. They travel to South Whidbey tomorrow night, and have their final home game next Tuesday against Lakewood.

Six wrestlers to compete in regional competition

Six Blaine grapplers competed well enough at last Saturday�s eight-team district championship meet in Deming to move on to the 15-team regional competition this Saturday in Mountlake Terrace. All of them stand a good chance of going on to the state meet February 21 and 22 in Tacoma, giving evidence of just how far they�ve developed this season under head coach Craig Foster.

�The top five finishers at regionals go on to state,� said Foster, �and any of these guys can do it.�

There are six students heading to this regional competition: sophomores John Brady, Nick Jordan, Calvin Moore, Blayne Brandenburger, Frank Neroni and senior Anthony Terris. The rundown:
� Brady, at 119 pounds, did what Foster called a �great job in a do or die situation.� Brady faced elimination from the tournament if he lost to opponent Andrew Nolte from Nooksack, a senior who beat him by 14 points at the Blaine-Nooksack dual meet. Brady turned all that around, though, pinning Nolte for the win and fourth place in his weight class.
� Jordan, at 130 pounds, showed the courage he became famous for on the football field in facing older, more experienced opponents. He finished fourth behind three seniors, including last year�s state champ, and is the lone underclassman to advance to regionals in his weight class.
� At 140 pounds, Moore finished second as he has before to Meridian senior Andy Karuza.
� Brandenburger, 171 pounds, got fourth in a division that included last year�s state championship runner up.
� Neroni, 275 pounds, relegated to the JV squad this year, is finally healthy and is one of the two allowed wrestlers per class that Foster has competing in the post-season as a heavyweight. Neroni pinned his first opponent, then lost his second match, then pinned three in a row to take third. �He came out of nowhere,� Foster said, �and got more varsity points at the district meet than any other Blaine wrestler.�

Blaine�s lone senior and the other heavyweight, Anthony Terris, got pinned right away in his first match. �It was just one of those things,� said Foster. Terris came into his own, however, and with three straight pins moved into the finals, losing there for second place.

Blaine Barracudas gets two state championships
Craig Foster, along with assistant coaches Scott Dodd and Richie Tewes, took 21 wrestlers to last week�s state championships for folk-style wrestling at Bellingham high school and came away with two winners and five others who placed well among the forty or so clubs from around the state who competed.

Caleb Johnson, 10, won in the Midget class at 112 pounds, and varsity wrestler Calvin Moore won in the cadet class at 152 pounds class.

Nick Jordan in cadet at 135 pounds got third, John Brady in cadet at 125 pounds also got third, Shane Hicks in schoolboy at 165 placed fourth, Tyson Foster in schoolboy at 95 pounds got sixth and Justin Woods in schoolboy at 70 pounds placed fifth.

Foster said that he�s starting the Barracudas� Freestyle Wrestling program this week on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m. in the wrestling room. For more information, call Foster at 332-9835.