by Jack Kintner
beginning to jell as the
“I think we’ve found a point guard,” said a pleased head coach Dan Rucker despite having just lost to fourth-ranked Lynden Christian by 15 points last week, 60-45. “The Dodgson boys really came through tonight,” he continued,” as did Chase (Timm) off the bench.” It’s a hinge point for the season.
Rucker, who likes to give seniors a chance to play, especially if they’ve stuck around for a few years waiting, finally shuffled the deck after an embarrassing 69-30 loss to Bill Kelly’s Pioneers two weeks ago. In moving the Dodgson brothers into starting roles fans have begun to see a spark in a team that not only has yet to win a league game but looked at one point as if it never would wake up, despite some good effort and, for most of the boys, a lot of hard work and dedication.
wheels really came off the night Blaine hosted Nooksack
last January 18. Nooksack had a shut-out going until
well into the second quarter of play, and Kelly impishly
walked over to the Blaine bench just as the third quarter
was about to begin and asked loudly of Rucker if he “wanted
to forfeit now or play the rest of the game?” Fans
The good-natured Rucker, so kind he’ll carry bugs outside instead of swat them, claims not to have heard Kelly’s impertinent question, but he was also preoccupied with officiating that once again had the smell of unbrushed teeth.
To be fair, Kelly’s offensive set forced Blaine into a man-to-man defense that they seemed unprepared to execute, and when they found themselves out of place they’d often foul out of frustration, sometimes blatantly. And referees seem only too happy to make matters worse when they hear you whine.
The following week, playing on the road at Meridian, Rucker knew things needed changing, stirring up. Since three players pretty much have to start, that left the guard positions, into which flowed like honey creeping down your morning toast a couple of brothers who have basically re-invented this season while giving fans hope for the next as well as reason to check the roster to see who these guys are.
Here’s why, in my opinion, the move was hopeful despite another loss. This year there have been three players who have formed the team’s core: Ryan “Hondo” Goodwin plus the athletically gifted, tough and nimble Doug Goldsby and the always impressive and occasionally downright unbelievable Joey Paciorek. But of these three, only Goodwin’s a true basketball player. With the guard positions unsettled until the last third of the season it’s been tough to compete in what’s probably the best and most competitive AA league in the state.
Goldsby, the son of a gifted collegiate wide receiver, heads off after graduating this spring, leaving sophomores Paciorek and Goodwin as the nucleus of a team that suddenly shows huge promise in the next two seasons with the advent of another sophomore, Nate Dodgson, and his younger brother, freshman Vince. And basketball-wise, these kids can really turn the crank.
Suddenly a team of athletes borrowed from other sports becomes a team of basketball players molded around Goodwin and the Brothers D, plus the emerging talents of (sophomores) Sean Hurta and Mike Pianki. Add to that another 11th grader, the finest raw athlete for his age in the county, Joey Paciorek. Blaine should be so lucky to have three such phenoms in the same century (besides Paciorek there’s Richard “Handshake” Hansen in the ’50s and, of course, Lukas Robin Ridnour, who works at his basketball skills like a hungry stevedore).
One can only speculate at what might have been had Blaine resident and LC junior Kyle Coston played here at home, since he’s the main reason Lynden Christian is ranked fourth and will likely place well at state this year.
Not that he hasn’t helped anyway. It was Coston’s Lynden team that showed Blaine fans just what talent has been unearthed in the Dodgson boys, both of whom showed well against the tall trees that bless LC coach Vic Wolffis’s offense this year. The brothers scored 14 points, penetrating easily into the paint while being chased by players who were often made to look more like the awkward beanpoles they sometimes are, just kids who grew faster than Iowa corn.
The Borderite boys are on the road tomorrow night at Nooksack, where Kelly (who lives in Blaine and tells me he reads this paper every week) won’t have such a grand time. There are two more home games left, on February 11 and 18, separated by a final go at LC on February 15. Come out and see them. They’re beginning to enjoy themselves again.
Girls come close against Meridian in
With 6'1" Meridian junior Chelsea Huffman scoring 22 points in the second half, including six free throws, Blaine let their best chance so far to notch a win in league play slip away in the closing minutes as Meridian took their measure 65-60.
Played before a sparse Saturday afternoon crowd as a make-up for an earlier date canceled by snow, Blaine started fast and built up a seven point lead in the first quarter and still held a two-point edge at the half.
Then things fell apart defensively as Meridian began to work harder inside, and by the end of the third quarter they led by 10. Still down 10 points 58-48 with 1:24 to go, Blaine began to catch up and almost pulled it off, intentionally fouling to save time. They parlayed that into a 6-1 run in just under 40 seconds to close within five points with 43.9 seconds left, but that was it. Both teams scored six in the last 40 seconds and in the end the five-point difference remained.
Alyssa Hendrickson had a terrific afternoon, sinking 25 points (including Blaine’s only trey), which along with Jen Kramer’s 17 accounted for much of Blaine’s offense. But veterans Andrea Harmening (1), Ainsley Nix (3) and Lori Robertson (4) only managed to add eight points to the total. Chelsea Crews got four and Luisa Wood got six as well as showing tough defense inside. Play was stopped 53 times by officials calling fouls, making it difficult for either team to develop momentum. Crews, Robertson and Hendrickson fouled out for Blaine, while Meridian only lost the marginally effective senior post Carolyn Hayes.
loss left the Borderites at 0-7 in league play, 2-9 overall.
Mt. Baker drops Blaine by seven, Borderites still winless in league play
With both Ainsley Nix and Jen Kramer putting up 12 points Blaine made a stalwart run at the east county Mountaineers but in the end came up seven points short, losing 55-48 at home last Tuesday. Mt. Baker jumped out to a 10-point lead, which then held more or less throughout the game. 6'2" Mountaineer senior center Stephani Kier, staggering around in the paint, at times scored pretty much at will, accounting for 21 points on the evening.
Nix, her shooting eye apparently back, got all her points from the floor with six field goals. Blaine sophomore Alyssa Hendrickson continued her hustling, ball-hawking style, scoring Blaine’s only trey (again) and providing some exciting moments up against Mt. Baker junior Mandi Millman. Blaine’s savvy and well experienced Nix, a senior, was assigned Mt. Baker’s wunderkind freshman guard, 5'8" Courtney Van Brocklin, holding her to just four field goals.
The girls, now 0-8 (2-10) and still seeking their first league win, are at home tonight against Nooksack in their next-to-last home contest. Following a road trip to Meridian on February 10, they face Lynden Christian here on February 15 and then close the season out at Mt. Baker on February 17.
Blaine second at wrestling sub-districts
With three victories and six more wrestlers not losing until their final matches, Blaine finished a strong second to Mt. Baker in last Saturday’s sub-district meet, 266.5 to 171. Nooksack at 154 and Meridian at 53 trailed.
Winners and their weight classes included Calvin Moore (140) over Tim Myers of Mt. Baker 11-0, Nick Jordan (140) beating his old nemesis Kyle Brown of Mt. Baker 6-4 in overtime, and Blayne Brandenburger over Mountaineer Scott Johnson 14-2.
Placing second for Blaine were Mike Broyan (112), Sam Abrams (125), John Brady (130), Matt Determan (160), Shane Hicks (171) and Corey Smith (275).