LYNDEN - By the time the weekend rolls around, Blaine girls' basketball coach Ryan Pike is going to know quite a bit more about his team.
During the two-day Cloud 9 Sports Lynden Christmas Classic at Lynden Christian, Pike's Borderites are scheduled to face the state's fourth-ranked team in Class 1A and the No. 1 team in the 2A ranks.
"You know it's good to face teams like this - good competition - especially teams you might see down the road again," Pike said. "You get a chance to learn about them, and they learn a little bit about you, and you get to test yourself against good competition. Hopefully you learn something from it."
The one thing Blaine took away from its Thursday, Dec. 27, meeting with Cascade Christian - a team the Borderites definitely could see again in the 1A tri-district or possibly even state tournaments in a couple months - is that it might want to avoid relying too heavily on its usual zone defense.
Though the zone is good for clamping down in the post, it often leaves the perimeter open, and the Cougars pounced, taking advantage with nine 3-pointers to spur a 47-40 victory over the Borderites in a matchup of two teams ranked in the top five in Class 1A.
Olivia Tuttle was the chief sharp-shooter, as all 15 of her points came on five 3-pointers, including a quartet of treys in the third quarter. In fact, all but two of Cascade Christian's 17 points in the third came from 3-point land, as the Cougars stretched a one-point halftime lead to a 39-32 advantage.
Another 3 - the third of the game for Katie Rozumny - early in the fourth stretched Cascade Christian's lead to eight points.
"We like to come out in a zone, but they started hitting some 3s there in the third quarter," Pike said. "We tried switching to a 1-2-2, but they still were able to get a few. We eventually went to man to slow them up, and maybe we waited a little too long to make that change."
Pike made the call to switch to man-to-man with 6:09 to play, and the Cougars went without a 3-pointer the rest of the way. In fact, they managed only five more points, went 1 for 7 from the floor and turned the ball over five times in the final six minutes.
"When we got settled into the man defense, I though we matched up pretty well," Pike said.
But the only problem was the offense went cold for the Borderites (5-4).
Blaine closed to within 43-40 with 4:18 remaining after a pair of free throws from Taylor V'Dovec, who finished with a team-high 13 points.
Though the Borderites got defensive stops on seven of the Cougars' next nine offensive possessions, Blaine couldn't get any closer, as it missed its final six shots from the field and turned the ball over three times in the final four minutes.
"That was the key to the game, along with the 3s they made in the third quarter," Pike said.
Breanna Chau joined V'Dovec in double figures with 11 points, while Alexis McElwain pulled down 11 rebounds and Mandy Hayes had four assists.
Cascade Christian's Kaycee Creech led all scorers with 19 points, 12 of which came in the second quarter, when the Cougars stormed back from an early deficit and took the lead right before halftime.
Blaine next faces White River at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 28 in the second day of the Classic, while Cascade Christian will play Mount Baker at noon.
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN 47, BLAINE 40
Cascade Christian 8 14 17 8 - 47
Blaine 14 7 11 8 - 40
Cascade Christian: Julia Inderbitzin 0, Kaycee Creech 19, Katie Rozumny 9, Olivia Tuttle 15, Brook Tunstall 0, Chloe Reed 4, Savannah Hunter 0. Team totals: 21-54 6-7 47
Blaine: Breanna Chau 11, Olivia Olason 5, Alexis McElwain 5, Mandy Hayes 6, Rhiana Breedlove 0, Taylor V'Dovec 13. Team totals: 15-49 9-13 40.
3-ptg: Cascade Christian 9 (Tuttle 5), Blaine 1 (V'Dovec). Rebounds: Cascade Christian 39 (Creech 10), Blaine 35 (McElwain 11). Assists: Cascade Christian 5 (Creech 2), Blaine 7 (Hayes 4). Fouls: Cascade Christian 10, Blaine 12. Turnovers: Cascade Christian 18, Blaine 17.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.