The sequence won’t go down in sports history but it did mark the loss of an enormous opportunity for the Blaine boys basketball team. Trailing by two points early in the fourth quarter of their game with Bellingham Thursday January 27, Andrew Price, Blaine‘s talented junior post grabbed two offensive rebounds and on the third shot attempt was fouled, according to the baseline official.
The foul would have sent Price to the line to try to tie the game for the third time. Instead, an official from behind the play, near mid-court, came in and overruled the call saying that it was a held ball, giving possession to Bellingham. The Red Raiders immediately converted a basket by Sam Clitheroe and got a foul against Blaine’s Sean Allen, giving Clitheroe a bonus free throw which he made.
The five point swing proved to be the pivotal change in the game that allowed Bellingham to escape with a 66-62 Northwest conference victory over the Borderites.
“Absolutely, this changed the game,” said Blaine head basketball coach Dougal Thomas in an email, “to be honest, I have no idea how the trail official could over rule the official that was directly in front of the play on the baseline.”
The play was the only thing that slowed Price down in the game. Playing with an uncommon ferocity, Price had yet another double/double, scoring 23 points and sweeping down 16 rebounds.
“I think Andrew is starting to figure out that when he applies himself, he can be a dominant force inside for us,” said Thomas, “His effort in games has been excellent. We are working with Andrew to get that same effort in practice. When he figures that part out, he will be an unstoppable force every night and should have an excellent finish this year and sets himself up for a great senior season.”
After the disputed play, Price converted another offensive rebound into a lay-in drawing the Borderites to within three at 53-50, but Bellingham’s Chase Layton nailed a three pointer to extend the lead to six. After a Blaine time out and a missed shot, Blaine’s Luke Feenstra fouled the Red Raiders’ Alex Check as he was scoring. The old fashioned three point play moved Bellingham out to a nine point lead with 4:32 remaining in the game. Blaine’s furious rally fell short.
Despite the interdiction of the officials, Blaine can look back at crucial misses at the free throw stripe as one cause for the loss. Blaine went 9 for 15 at the line, accounting for the measure of points needed to win the game. The Borderites were only 3 of 7 from the charity stripe down the stretch.
The game marked the return of senior Dustin Dhanani to the lineup who had been out for the past week and a half with an illness. The athletic Dhanani made a strong impact, chipping in 10 points and playing tenacious defense.
“Dustin has been a glue guy for us all year,” Thomas commented, “He makeds tough shots, plays solid defense, and has totally bought into what we are trying to do with our program.”
Bellingham’s 6-foot-7 Myles Ayers led the Red Raiders with 15 points. Clitheroe added 13 and Dan West chipped in 10, including two breakaway dunks. Blaine’s Andrew Miller scored 11 for the Borderites.
The loss left the Borderites 2-15 (0-10 in the Northwest conference) going into their game with two time defending 2A state champion Squalicum.
Photo by Blaise Bookout