By Jack Kintner
Borderites beat Lynden Christian 67-56
Blaine ran away with a victory at home last Saturday in front of an appreciative home crowd, using an effective zone and full court press to take a taller but slower Lynden Christian squad 67-56.
The game was close until midway through the fourth quarter when Blaine’s speed and flashy ball handling put LC in a hole from they never emerged.
It began when Todd Bird scored twice for four of his 10 points in less than five seconds off successive steals in the LC back court. Blaine looked impressive, getting 21 points off turnovers (LC got just 3), most of them in a wildly up tempo fourth quarter that saw pass after pass catapulted down court to a fast breaking Blaine guard or forward.
After Bird’s burglaries Odie Johannessen broke for a fast break lay-up but, double-teamed, spun like a Blue Angel and ripped a pass off to Mitch Mekovich thundering into the paint for two of his six points. Johannessen ended with 6 assists on the evening, twice what anyone else from either team had.
The showcase continued with Trevor Chau’s entertaining and unorthodox style of shooting, half Globetrotter and half helicopter, as he’d go in low, sort of hover and throw a shot that goes straight up and straight down through the hole. He was as unstoppable as smoke floating through LC’s tall timber, scoring nine.
Wiry gunner Trey Bakogeorge, who hit two of Blaine’s three treys and led the team in scoring with 14 on four free throws and four out of 13 from the field, also moved into the Lynden defense like water through a leaky boat while running the offensive show that got fans on their feet, happy to cheer a great Borderite home win.
The steady 75 percent field goal shooting (13 points) and rebounding (eight) of Jason Green, headed north into Canada on an athletic scholarship next year, was the key to the evening. Greg Grasher also got nine points including one of Blaine’s treys and 66 percent shooting from the free throw line.
Blaine led by just two after the first period, barely hung on to a 32-all tie at the half and then trailed early in the second half as LC surged. Blaine went into a zone and began to slowly climb back. With 4:25 left in the third quarter Todd Bird’s picture perfect lay-in off a great outlet pass from Johannessen ties the score at 41, a precursor to the fourth quarter slam about to unfold.
The quarter ended with Blaine ahead by one, 47-46, and then the Borderites opened it up, running off chunks of points here and there, forcing turnovers with sometimes blazing speed like five cats playing with dying mice. The game ended with Bakogeorge just standing in the back court, dribbling the last few seconds away and shaking hands with the nearest LC defender as the crowd cheered.
“We knew we could zone them and press effectively,” said a satisfied head coach Dan Rucker, “and we were able to finish the job, we didn’t freeze up.”
Blaine shot respectably from the free throw line, hitting 14 of 20 for 70 percent, but was under par from the field sinking only 25 of 55 attempts for 46 percent.
That will have to improve if the boys are to have a chance in two road games this next week, playing Mt. Vernon in the Skagit Valley Snake Pit on Tuesday, February 10 and Nooksack on Friday the 13th. Next home date is Wednesday February 18 against Sedro-Woolley, a game that promises to be just as entertaining as this one was.
Better catch them while you can.
Blaine wrestlers move on to regionals
Blaine managed a strong second place at last weekend’s sub-regional tournament in Bellingham and advanced 13 wrestlers to this Saturday’s regional tournament to be held here in Blaine.
This good showing happened despite Blaine being handed 12 first-round passes and 11 more in the second round matches because of their high seeding, an advantage in most respects except team scoring where fewer matches means fewer points.
Jacob Humphrey (119 pound weight class), for example, won his class wrestling just two matches, his semifinal win coming by forfeit. The stalwart A.J. Piezyniski (145), on the other hand, wrestled six matches, contributing more points to Blaine’s team score despite finishing fifth.
Shaypher “Mongoose” Hendricks (103) could have been a sixth Blaine champ but got some kind of weird bug that made him toss his cookies on the mat instead of an opponent whom he’s beaten before, Squalicum’s Ren Bishop, and he lost the match by forfeit.
Two other surprises were Jacob Martinez (160) and Shaffer Hicks (189), strong contenders all season who finished out of the money this time and saw their seasons come to an end.
Tony Jordan (125) lost a close one in his third match after getting a bye and an injury forfeit when Bellingham’s Malcom Owings edged him 6-5. He won his next two matches 7-0 and 3-1 for a solid third.
Ditto Blaine’s heavyweight Joel Garza (285) who had two byes, then two pins, then was pinned himself, then got two more pins in the consolation bracket, also winding up third.
D.J. Duncan (130) sailed into the finals with two byes and lopsided 10-0 and 17-0 wins before meeting a bit of a brick wall in Sehome’s Jared McGarry. Duncan still prevailed 3-2 but he did have to break a sweat to do so.
Blaine’s two light heavies Jeremy Holdaas (215) and Darrell Price, Jr. (215) again met in the finals and to save their energy forfeited the match, but Saturday at the regionals “Price and Holdaas will wrestle it out,” said head coach Craig Foster.
Along with Humphrey and Price, Blaine’s two other champs, Camden Nix (135) and Tyson Foster (140) were not deeply tested as they quickly mastered their respective classes. From here on out, of course, it gets a lot harder.
The top four finishers in each bracket advanced to this Saturday’s regional. Piezyniski can also get in by winning in the play-in matches that will begin the tournament that starts at 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning. Blaine athletic director Wayne Vezzetti estimated that the regular 8-man brackets will start about 45 minutes later.
Region One’s tournament adds the top three finishers from the 2A schools in the Cascade Conference. The top four finishers in each division advance to the state tournament February 20 and 21 in Tacoma.