Coming off a strong performance against Granite Falls, the Blaine Borderites expected their road game against lightly regarded Sedro-Woolley to be an opportunity to keep their momentum going forward.
The chance was lost in what can only be seen as a ghastly 63-44 Northwest conference (NWC) loss Tuesday, December 21. The Borderites were a chilly 16-65 from the field, only hitting six shots in the second half. They connected on a meager half of the 24 free throws they were generously given.
They were outhustled by the smaller Cubs, evidenced by the 42 rebounds they collected and the three offensive fouls Blaine drew. The last, against Todd Bird, drew Blaine head coach Dougal Thomas' wrath against the officials enough to have a technical foul levied against him.
The primary beneficiary of the Borderites’ second half was Sedro-Woolley's Isaac Bianchini, whose frequent forays into the Blaine paint either led to easy baseline lay-ins or trips to the free throw line. Bianchini lit up the Borderites for 34 points, the highest point total by a Blaine opponent this season.
“In the second half, we gave up too many easy baskets and points overall,” said Thomas in an email, “then we started to get in a hurry on offense and forced some bad shots.”
Sedro-Woolley gave Blaine an opportunity to take a substantial lead early, coughing up the basketball six times on turnovers. Yet the Borderites were unable to take advantage of the Cub generosity, missing four shots in close and two free throws in the same stretch, holding only a slim lead.
“We need to make those easy shots to give ourselves the lead,” Thomas said, “It gives our kids confidence and stiffens our defensive effort. We could have easily been up 10 to 15 points at halftime.”
Sedro-Woolley took their first lead at 18-17, and surged ahead by six on a three point hoop by Josh Macchi.
Still, it seemed that Blaine was prepared to win the game, rallying late in the first half behind Dustin Dhanani, who scored nine points and played with a physical style that seemed ready to overwhelm the Cubs in the first half. Dhanani scored two late baskets to draw within one at the halftime break.
The wheels came off the wagon to start the second half, however. Despite getting plenty of good looks, Blaine started the half without hitting a basket, while the Cubs used the misses to ignite their fast break and streak to an 8-0 run that set Blaine down by nine only a few minutes in.
The misses and the quick lead seemed to wilt the Borderites’ resolve on defense, and Bianchini was able to get deep against them. Combined with six three pointers and Blaine’s poor shooting, Sedro-Woolley’s lead ballooned to 23 at one point to put the game away.
After two titanic performances, Andrew Price, who led Blaine in scoring, managed 15 points, only 3 in the second half. Todd Bird led the Borderites in rebounding with 11.
The Borderites finish their nine game, three week, early season odyssey with a grim 2-7 record ( 0-2 in the NWC). Sedro-Woolley improved to 2-5 (1-1 in the NWC).
“At some point our kids are going to start making some more shots,” coach Thomas concluded, “the schedule comes back to us a little after the break and we have an opportunity to pick up a few wins if we can sustain or defensive effort and knock down some shots.”The Borderites are now shut down for the holidays until January 3 at home against Lynden Christian.