Sports -- January 26, 2006

Published on Thu, Jan 26, 2006
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by Jack Kintner

Boy hoopsters move into third place

The Blaine Borderites moved into possession of third place in the league with narrow but solid and well-controlled victories over the slick and flashy Nooksack Valley Pioneers on the road, 47-44, and again Tuesday night over the plodding but determined Meridian Trojans 53-49
Senior guard Ryan Shockey’s steady hand at the free throw line came up huge in both contests. In the first, Shockey and Mike Pianki combined for a total of 21 points, but the pair each made from the charity stripe in the last 38 seconds preserved the three-point margin for the win. Pianki was leading scorer with a baker’s dozen followed by a steady Joe Paciorek with 10.
In order to beat a whiz-bang team like Nooksack with clutch play takes teamwork, maturity, and an ability to focus on the task at hand. Coach Dan Rucker has been building that in these boys stick by stick for the past two years.
Meridian, on the other hand, plays basketball like a butcher makes sausage. You might not want to know how it’s done, but the boys from Troy win because of hard work, and the occasional wrestlemania moment, the odd punch or slap.
But Blaine doesn’t react to that stuff as it once did earlier in the season. Joe Paciorek, for example, is this rock-steady floor leader who faces down enemy zones by picking them apart at the seams.
Blaine also led in rebounds 28 to 23, and after pushing ahead from an early 4-4 tie never trailed again. Yet in the end Meridian rose like the undead to strike and steal the ball and nearly strike again to tie before an intentional foul sealed their fate.
With three minutes left, Pianki fouled and Meridian cut what had been an 11-point lead down to three: 40-37. Meridian went back into a zone to try to cut the lead even more but Paciorek rolled off Goodwin for an easy two to go up by five, 42-37, then Blaine added four more to Meridian’s two for a seven point lead. Trojan forward Josh Keough fouled but Blaine failed to convert and Meridian cut the lead to five, 41-46, when Duece Black fouled out with 56.9 seconds left.
Blaine got one of the free throws to go back up by six, then Keough fouled twice in 10 seconds to get the boot with Blaine nursing a five-point lead. Blaine got another one of two free throws to go up 52-46, then Trojan Bryan Black hit too close within 52-49.
Senior Ryan Shockey drilled one of two free throws awarded for an intentional foul, with eight seconds left, to secure the 53-49 win.

Girls drop a close one to Nooksack

Blaine’s girls dropped a close game to Nooksack last week at home, 47-40, but showed heart in coming back from an embarrassing first quarter in which they were outscored 12 to 1. With a 17 point second quarter the girls cut the Pioneer lead to just seven at the half, and by the second half cut the lead to just four.
This was done while playing with their guards either absent or injured. Freshman Bailey Richardson was out with a bruised spleen, and back court aces Alyssa Hendrickson (31 out of 32 minutes) and Kristen Elsbree (28 out of 32 minutes) were both coming back from ankle injuries.
“We came out but didn’t play our style at all,” said coach Rob Adams, “and were flat. But I’m proud of the effort they made to climb out of that deep hole and catch them. You have to learn to be a competitor, and to make mistakes like that out of youth and inexperience, playing without some key people, then to come back, that’s learning how to compete.”
Blaine outscored Nooksack 15-12 in a hectic fourth quarter that saw the gap narrow to just four points, but in the end that was as close as the girls would get. When senior post Kara Stull fouled out toward the end, Nooksack went back up a few points on their foul shooting for the final score
Seven girls shared in the scoring, topped by Hendrickson’s 19, and Kailey Walter again scored a trey. With the loss Blaine (4-8, 1-4) dropped into a tie for fourth in league with Meridian, who they played Tuesday night.
The Lady B’s will take on the AAA Lynden Lions at 12:30 p.m. this Saturday, January 28, at the Key Arena in Seattle. As with last year’s games at the Key, tickets ($26) get you into two afternoon high school games and the evening contest between the Seattle Sonics and the New Jersey Nets. By press time, most of the $28 tickets had been sold, but there may be a few available by calling athletic secretary and JV coach Connie Pilon at 332-6045.