Thanks to another solid performance from Blaine’s usual suspects, the Borderite girls’ basketball team is headed to the state 2A quarterfinals – a first for the entire squad.
Despite a tepid first-half performance from Blaine that left both teams tied at the break, the Borderites amped up their defense in the third and ran away with the game on Saturday, February 25, winning by a final score of 51-41.
“This is exciting,” Blaine senior Stefawn Perrin said. “We get to go to Yakima, and we will definitely keep pushing it.”
After scoring just five points over the previous two games, Perrin came back in stellar form Saturday with 10 points.
“The difference tonight was how we came together and played as a team,” Perrin said. “We weren’t playing very well in the beginning and we knew that, so we came out at halftime and showed them what we’ve got.”
Entering the third quarter tied at 15-15, Blaine needed to make something happen. They weren’t losing, but they weren’t hitting their stride. Olympic’s Jalyn Halstead was proving troublesome, and the Blaine girls weren’t sinking enough buckets to distance themselves.
That’s when Borderite head coach Jeremy Hinchey made the decision to place freshman standout Mandy Hayes on Halstead.
“[Halstead] was the one who was making stuff happen, so coach had me face guard her. That means no helping others – just stay in her face the whole time,” Hayes said. “It was pretty exhausting, but I did what I had to do.”
Shutting down Halstead allowed Blaine to handle Olympic’s other threats more efficiently. That, along with a couple of key buckets from freshman Taylor V’Dovec, allowed the Borderites to take a lead in the third quarter and hold it for the rest of the game.
“Hayes made a big difference for us in the third quarter when she started face guarding [Halstead],” Hinchey said. “That turned the game around for us.”
Blaine kept the pressure cooking until the final minutes of the fourth, when Olympic was forced to resort to hack and slash basketball.
“It’s exciting,” Hinchey said. “I knew when they started fouling us that we had the game in control. We have got good free-throw shooters.”
Blaine’s leading scorers were Breanna Chau and Alexis McElwain with 11 points each. Perrin and V’Dovec each added 10. McElwain also grabbed a team-leading 12 rebounds.
At the beginning of the season, Hinchey said the team certainly hoped for a post-season run, but added, “I don’t think we could ever expect this.”
Perrin, on the other hand, sees the unprecedented success simply as the team’s just deserts.
“Honestly, yes, we all did [anticipate reaching the final eight],” Perrin said. “We believed in ourselves all year, and that’s what got us this far.”
For Perrin, the success couldn’t come at a better time. The senior has been the staple scorer for the Borderites over the years, but it wasn’t until this season, with the addition of the talented freshman trio – Chau, Hayes and V’Dovec – that Perrin was given some options on the floor.
The Borderites will face White River High School at 12:15 p.m. on Thursday, March 1, at the Yakima SunDome. The losing team goes home, while the winning team plays again Friday, March 2.