by Jack Kintner
Blaine wins King of the Valley Invitational
Blaine’s wrestlers brought home another shelf of trophies last weekend as they decisively won the first King of the Valley Invitational Tournament that Nooksack high school has been able to hold in the last three seasons. Blaine finished first with 250.5 points, followed by host Nooksack with 176, Lake Stevens with 127, Meridian with 106.5, Lynden with 82, Sehome with 77, Archbishop Murphy with 74 and South Whidbey, last with 66.5 points.
After pinning his first two opponents in less time than it takes to tell, Borderite Nick Jordan (160) defeated Lynden’s Darren Korthius 10-3 in the championship round and was named outstanding wrestler for the tournament, based on a vote by all the attending coaches. The prize, instead of something light and delicate, was an ordinary construction crow bar that was painted to say “outstanding” on one side and “wrestler” on the other.
“It could have been anyone from our team,” Jordan said afterward, “because there’s been a lot of improvement and good performances from everyone.”
Jordan, however, is in the middle of an outstanding year, having compiled a record of 22-2 so far this season including a 15-5 semi-final victory over Micah Sohl of Vashon at last week’s Vashon Island “Rock” tournament.
Sohl was last year’s state championship runner-up at 152. After defeating him, Jordan went on to win the tournament. Along with his win at the Battle at the Border, last weekend’s win at Nooksack was his third tournament victory this year.
160 is a weight class that’s new for Jordan, who wrestled 145 last year. Jordan attributes his success to increased confidence from having worked out all summer, when he was closer to his normal weight of 170. “I have to cut about 10 [pounds] to compete,” he said, “which isn’t too bad.”
The Borderites sent 11 wrestlers into the 14 championship round matches, winning eight. Victories centered on the team’s strength in the middle weight classes, from Derek Stremler (140) beating Nooksack’s Nate Libolt 8-7 to Blayne Brandenburger’s one minute pin of Lake Stevens’ Devin Papka in the 180-pound class.
Other Blaine winners were Jacob Humphrey (112) over Harris Larson (M) 7-1, Sam Abrams (130) over Mike Broven (also of Blaine) 23-8, Derek Stremler (140) Calvin Moore (145) over Kelley (NV) by a pin 1:30 into the second period, John Brady (152) over Capp (M) 6-4, and Shane Hicks (171) with a first period pin of Archbishop Murphy’s Zeke Evers.
Mike Broven (130), Jesse Kilthau (135) and Cody Dobbs (215) got seconds, and Tyson Foster (125) got a third.
After a Wednesday night meet at Mt. Baker, the team travels to the King of the County tournament this Friday and Saturday at Sehome high school in Bellingham. The last home meet, at which the seniors will be honored, is January 25, and the opponent will be Nooksack.
Girls hoopsters stomp Meridian
Alyssa Hendrickson wrote a new chapter in her outstanding athletic record at Blaine with a 29-point performance last week, scoring more than half the team’s total points as the Lady B’s took Meridian to the woodshed 52-36.
Hendrickson, a 5 foot-5 Blaine junior, used her deer-like speed and grace to penetrate Meridian’s defense almost at will, while Blaine’s defense stopped the Trojans cold, especially their 20 points-per-game senior Chelsey Huffman, who made just two of nine from the field to go with seven free throws.
Key to the defensive effort was six foot senior center Krisse Freeman’s performance both in the low post and near the bucket, where she was able to box out opponents effectively. Blaine out-rebounded Meridian 37-31, led by Freshman Kristen Elsbree’s eight snags. Another ninth-grader, Bailey Richardson, led the team with five assists.
Coach Rob Adams seemed pleased with Blaine’s defensive efforts, an element that first and foremost requires hustle but that sometimes has also been conspicuously absent in this young team’s season so far. They’re beginning to understand how to win ball games.
The Lady B’s led the Trojans by two at the end of a somewhat tentative first quarter, but then really began to tear things open by keeping their eyes on Huffman defensively and on Hendrickson at the other end of the court, outscoring Meridian 34-19 in just the second and third quarters.
Ten of the second quarter points belonged to Hendrickson, who ended the game 10 for 22 for a respectable 46 percent shooting from the field. Clearly in charge of the offense, she played like Allen Iverson, always open for a pass and a shot, most often followed by a nice, clean swish. Her one three-point shot was a running jumper from a good five feet or more beyond the arc, which in high school is three inches shy of 20 feet away from the basket.
With the win the Blaine girls showed a moderate-sized crowd – and themselves – that they understand how to take their gifts of speed, size and hustle into the win column. This attitude will definitely get them into the district playoffs this year, and maybe farther.
However, the Lady B’s had no better luck against Lynden Christian than have any of the rest of LC’s opponents this year as Blaine went down on the road 53-29. Blaine’s anemic scoring – 9, 6, 5 and 9 points by quarters – in the face of LC’s determined defense was reflected in the rest of the stats. Scoring leader Alyssa Hendrickson led Blaine with eight points.
Nonetheless, Blaine retains its grip on third place in the league, tied with Nooksack at 1-2 (4-6 over all). The girls next host Mt. Baker on Friday, January 13, at home.
A combination of cold shooting and turnovers did in the Borderites Tuesday night in a home contest with Lynden Christian as Blaine came up short 43-68.
It was their third loss and second league loss in a row after an exciting 63-61 overtime victory against perennially competitive Burlington Edison, and left the 0-3 (league) Borderites in the Whatcom County league cellar. Overall, though, Blaine’s still playing a respectable .500 ball with a 5-5 record.
All 10 seniors (including Blaine resident Kyle Coston) and both of the juniors on LC’s 12-man squad scored in the contest. Blaine was led by Ryan Goodwin’s 11 points. Blaine next travels to Deming to face Mt. Baker on Thursday night, January 12.