BLAINE - Executing a new offense or defense doesn't always run smoothly the first time.
So when Sehome drilled four first-half 3-pointers against Blaine, Borderites coach Ryan Pike decided to scrap a newly implemented box-and-one defense for Blaine's typical match-up zone.
It made all the difference.
"We were running a box-and-one on (Sehome's Rachel) Albert," Pike said. "It was the first time we ever did it. They hit four or five 3-pointers, so that was the difference in the first half."
Blaine overcame a four-point halftime deficit to beat the Mariners 42-35 in a Northwest Conference game Tuesday, Jan. 15, at Blaine High School.
Borderites Taylor V'Dovec and Mandy Hayes led Blaine (9-5, 4-3 NWC) with 12 points apiece, and Albert scored a game-high 14 points.
In an effort to limit Albert, who ranks among the NWC's top five scoring leaders, Pike said Blaine spent practice time working on a new box-and-one defense, which combines a four-player zone with one player guarding an opposing team's top threat.
The result of Pike's unveiling didn't quite go as planned.
Blaine's Olivia Olason and Rhiana Breedlove acquired the task of stopping Albert. The duo held the Sehome senior to eight first-half points, but the Borderites got burned along the perimeter.
Sehome's Hallie Messenger and Megan Bayless took advantage of the open room Blaine's new-look defense allowed. The two combined for four 3s, which accounted for 12 of Sehome's 24 first-half points.
"Megan Bayless has had a couple nights where she's not really shooting the ball well, so it was nice to see her actually start hitting some tonight," Mariners coach Kim Kirk said. "We know what Hallie can do, so it was nice to see Megan in that role. I think it brought more confidence to her tonight."
Bayless finished with six points, and Messenger recorded 10. All 16 of the pair's points were scored in the first half. It's a telling stat that shows how Blaine effectively shut down Sehome's perimeter shooters after halftime.
Blaine went into the break trailing 24-20, despite 1 of 10 shooting from the floor in the second quarter.
"The 3-pointers killed us in the first half, so we really needed to know where the shooters were," said Blaine guard Breanna Chau, who turned in a strong second half defensive performance.
The Borderites found them. Blaine held Sehome (8-6, 4-2) to one Meagan McIntyre 3-pointer in the final two quarters.
After giving up eight and 16 points, respectively, in the first two quarters, Blaine's match-up zone surrendered only four third-quarter points.
"For us, defense wins games," said Chau, who swiped a team-high five steals. "If we work hard on the defensive end, offense will come to us, and we can make baskets with our defense."
That was certainly the case Tuesday night.
Blaine opened the third with an 8-0 run thanks to four points from Hayes and buckets from Alexis McElwain and V'Dovec. Sehome was held scoreless, until Albert hit a 12-foot jumper from the elbow with 1 minute, 35 seconds remaining in the quarter. Chau made a free throw in the final seconds to give Blaine a 31-28 lead heading into the final frame.
"We kind of came out a little slow," said Kirk of Sehome's third-quarter play. "We started the half with a couple of turnovers, which is never good."
Hayes made a key effort play 1 1/2 minutes into the fourth quarter when she stripped the ball from a Sehome player and drove the length of the court for an easy layup to give Blaine a 35-30 lead - its largest since late in the second quarter. Hayes finished with four steals, and V'Dovec recorded three.
Trailing 37-30, Sehome cut Blaine's lead to two with 5:06 to go after a jumper from Albert was followed by a 3 from McIntyre.
Blaine blanked Sehome the rest of the way, though, as Hayes and McElwain closed the game with pair of baskets.
"It was a huge win," Pike said. "We need conference wins to catch Nooksack or LC. For us to come out and beat a good team like Sehome, it feels good. The girls worked hard."
V'Dovec earned a double-double with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. She also made three blocks and matched a team-high with three assists. Albert also had a double-double. She grabbed a team-high 10 boards to go with her 14 points. Like V'Dovec, Albert also had three blocks and three assists.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
BLAINE 42, SEHOME 35
Sehome 8 16 4 7 - 35
Blaine 11 9 11 11 - 42
Sehome: Rachel Albert 14, Meagan McIntyre 3, Mackenzie Caldwell 2, Megan Bayless 6, Alia Jones 0, Hallie Messenger 10, Danielle Stasser 0. Team totals: 13-36 4-6 35.
Blaine: Breanna Chau 3, Olivia Olason 5, Alexis McElwain 9, Mandy Hayes 12, Rhiana Breedlove 1, Taylor V'Dovec 12. Team totals: 13-37 13-20 42.
3-ptg: Sehome 5 (Messenger/Bayless 2), Blaine 0. Rebounds: Sehome 23 (Albert 10), Blaine 23 (V'Dovec 11). Assists: Sehome 8 (Albert 3), Blaine 10 (McElwain/V'Dovec 3). Fouls: Sehome 15, Blaine 11. Turnovers: Sehome 19, Blaine 11.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.