“I wish we could have rebounded a little better,” Blaine head basketball coach Dougal Thomas said after his Borderites dismantled Meridian 53-41 for their first victory of the season Tuesday, December 7, “there was a stretch there where we faded a little on the boards.”
The fact was that Blaine dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Trojans 45-31.
No one was more crucial to that than Andrew Price. The 6-foot, 6-inch junior collected 16 boards, while scoring 20 points to lead in both categories in the game. While Price was the beneficiary of Blaine’s revitalized offense, Todd Bird was the catalyst.
“How about Todd?” Thomas said, “he put us on his back and carried us.”
Bird scored 15 points, had 3 steals and dealt out 6 assists, frequently finding Price open deep in the post for easy baskets. He also had 8 rebounds.
“It feels good to finally win,” said Bird, “when we pass the ball around, it gets Price open for easy shots.”
While there were offensive standards set for the young season, Thomas was focussed on the play of his team’s defense.
“For the first time, we played a full 32 minutes of defense,” Thomas commented.
Played in stark contrast to the loss at LaConnor, Blaine never trailed in their non-conference game against Meridian, breaking a 3-3 tie on a lay-in by Bird and never looking back.
Meridian stayed close in the first half led by Tait Slesk, who scored 15 points for the Trojans. Blaine edged out to a five point first quarter lead after fast break scores off two of Bird’s steals.
The lead bulged to seven after another transition lay-in by Dustin Dhanani, before Meridian settled down and began to rebound against Blaine, rallying to draw within 19-17 late in the second quarter. Mario Gobbato hit a mid-range jumper to give the Borderite’s a 21-17 halftime lead.
The second half started with the same familiar refrain as the Sehome game earlier this year, with Meridian opening up with two fast break baskets off missed three point attempts by Blaine, sandwiched around a Bird lay-in.
The Borderites quickly asserted themselves going on a 10-2 run to open up a 35-23 lead.
The Trojans again cut into the lead with consecutive scores but were thwarted by a baseline jumper by Dhanani and a basket by Chase Speelman to hold a 12 point advantage at the end of the third quarter.
The Borderites ran away from Meridian in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Trojans 11-5 to start the period and stake an insurmountable 18 point lead.
The game clinching run was sparked by Dhanani, who scored in transition on a lay-in and a sweet teardrop runner in the paint.
In Blaine’s most complete game of the season there were plenty of superlatives to note. Though the Borderites were 0-8 in three point shooting, they were in complete control and never trailed.
The win improved the Borderites to 1-3 while Meridian fell to 1-1. Blaine continues its brutal early season schedule with a long trip south for a game against Lakewood, Saturday, December 11 at 7 p.m.