“If there were two minutes left on the clock, we would have won it,” Coach Ryan Pike said after the home game Tuesday night against Lynden Christian.
Unfortunately for the Borderites, the game ended with Blaine down by two, but the shifting momentum of the even matchup resulted in four lead changes, five ties and 44 turnovers – most caused by outstanding defensive efforts from both teams.
The December 14 game was the Borderites’ Northwest Conference season opener. While the previous five games contributed to the team’s season record, they will not affect playoff standing.
Blaine and Lynden Christian put on a defensive exhibition in Friday’s matchup. Lynden Christian’s (LC) man-to-man defense all but shut down most of Blaine’s usual top scorers, but Blaine junior Alexis McElwain stepped up to the challenge with accurate shooting and aggressive drives, scoring 17 points – five more than anyone else on the court.
LC center Kayla Tiemersma effectively defended V’Dovec out of the game, holding Blaine’s leading scorer to one field goal. Despite this, V’Dovec managed to score six more points in free throws, shooting 100 percent at the line to bring her game total to eight points.
Blaine was on top 11-10 after the first quarter, but LC went on a nine point run. Through a combination of steals (three from
sophomore Breanna Chau), rebounds (six from V’Dovec), and good baskets (McElwain scored 11 points in as many minutes), Blaine fought back to within four points. A crafty finger-roll from Chau and two good free throws from V’Dovec tied the game 32-32 after three quarters.
In the second half, LC’s full-court press caused Blaine problems and led to a five-second violation when Blaine couldn’t put the ball in play.
“Lynden Christian made fewer mistakes than we did, which was our downfall,” Pike said, “but we dealt with our mistakes well.”
In the fourth quarter, LC got into foul trouble and Blaine made four shots at the line, but field goals put LC ahead by two with 45 seconds left in the game.
After inbounding the ball with 25 seconds left, Blaine managed to pass through the full-court press, bring the ball into their zone, and pass the ball three times – a rare feat in the defensive matchup – but a shot at the buzzer missed and the Borderites lost 36-38.
“The game really ebbed and flowed,” Pike said, “We have to work on beating man-to-man coverage and breaking the full-court press. I thought we played great defensively. Alexis in particular had a great game.”
Blaine lost another close one at home December 18 against Nooksack Valley. The Pioneers shot 67 percent from the field and 77 percent from the free throw line, and six-foot senior Melissa Stadt led her team with 23 points and six rebounds. The final score was 65-56.
The Borderites kept the score close against Nooksack Valley, leading 19-15 after the first quarter, but falling steadily behind after that. Nooksack Valley’s post defense was solid, forcing Blaine to take perimeter shots.
Many of those outside shots went in: Blaine scored 8 out of 15 three-point attempts, with sophomore Breanna Chau sinking four to add to her 21-point team high in the game.
While Blaine’s shooting was good, Nooksack Valley’s shooting was great, and that spelled the difference in the game, Pike said.
“They only missed eight field goals,” he said. “You could struggle against a bad team that shoots 67 percent from the field, and Nooksack Valley is a good team. I thought we played well overall.”
Chau said she was nervous about her shooting before the game, but with the pressure on her shots started going in. She seemed to take the loss in stride.
“It was a letdown, but we’ll go home tonight, think about what went wrong, then come back tomorrow and work hard in practice,” she said. “We’ll just keep our heads up and look forward to the Anacortes game on Friday and the Christmas Tournament in Lynden Christian.”
The Borderites will travel to Anacortes Friday, December 21 for a matchup with the Seahawks and then to Lynden Christian Thursday, December 27 and Friday, December 28 for the Lynden Christian Christmas Tournament.