MOUNTLAKE TERRACE - The Blaine girls' basketball team had no doubts about who they wanted to face in a winner-take-all third-place game of the Class 1A Northwest District Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 9, at Mountlake Terrace High School. The Borderites hoped to see Nooksack Valley.
"You don't like to lose to anyone, and they beat us earlier this year," Blaine coach Ryan Pike said. "Anytime you do get beat, you want to avenge it. We were watching that Mount Baker-Nooksack game on Friday night, and we were pulling for Nooksack. We wanted to see them again and see if we couldn't beat them this time around."
Beat them the Borderites did, and in a game that meant a ton.
Mandy Hayes got Blaine off to a hot start by scoring 13 of her game-high 17 points in the first quarter and the Borderites went on to a 51-40 victory that sent them on to next week's 1A tri-district tournament.
"I just wanted to get my team off to a good start," Hayes said. "We remembered losing to them early in the season, and we didn't want to let that happen again. We came out fired up, and I was glad to be a part of that."
The Borderites (18-6) are now only two victories away from advancing to the regional round of the state tournament, though a loss in either will end their season short of their goal of making it back for a second straight year.
They will await the winner of a tri-district first-round game between Overlake and the District 3 No. 4 seed for a 4:30 p.m. game on Friday, Feb. 15, at Mountlake Terrace. The winner of that game moves on to play Eatonville on Saturday, Feb. 16, to advance to regionals.
Nooksack Valley (15-9), which beat Blaine 65-56 on Dec. 18, saw its season come to an end.
The Pioneers might have known things were going to be different from that December meeting on Saturday, when Hayes hit a 3-poiner off an assist from Alexis McElwain on the game's opening possession.
Two possessions later, she hit another with help from Olivia Olason to make it 6-0.
Another two possessions later, McElwain fed Breanna Chau for yet another 3, before Taylor V'Dovec closed out a game-opening 11-1 run with a put-back bucket.
Hayes would add a lay-up and a third 3-pointer before the end of the quarter to give the Borderites an 18-9 lead entering the second quarter.
"It was huge for Mandy to come out hot like she did," Pike said. "We did a good job of working things inside out, and if Mandy is in rhythm, she's really dangerous."
Blaine continued to build on that advantage, stretching it to 29-17 at the half, thanks in part to six points from V'Dovec in the period.
But Nooksack Valley refused to let its season end without a fight, as the Pioneers tightened the screws defensively in the third quarter.
"I got face guarded really close," Hayes said. "Brianna got in a little foul trouble, so Olivia had to run the point. Not that she did a bad job, it's just everything kind of took us out of our rhythm."
After hitting 12 of 24 first-half shot attempts, Blaine struggled to a 1-for-14 showing in the third quarter.
That allowed Nooksack Valley to crawl back into the game, cutting the Borderites' lead heading to the final period to 32-29.
But Blaine regained its offensive composure to open the fourth with a 7-0 run to re-establish a 10-point lead. McElwain hit a lay-up on Blaine's first possession, before Olason scored on a put back on the Borderites' third trip down the court. V'Dovec then converted a 3-point play, and Blaine was up 39-29.
The Pioneers got the margin back down to five with a 3 from Taryn Tenkley with 5:21 to play, but that is as close as the Borderites would let them.
Lindy Swanson led the Pioneers with 14 points and seven rebounds, while Melissa Stadt finished with 11 and 11 rebounds in her final game in Nooksack purple. Kaycee DeBruin, Lauren Dykstra, Morgan Perry and Swanson also will graduate from the Pioneers' district roster.
V'Dovec joined Hayes in double figures with 13 points and six rebounds, while Chau recorded nine points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
"Breanna is such a part of what we do," Pike said. "Whether it's running our offense or fighting for loose balls, she is a spark plug for us, and she was big again today."
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
BLAINE 51, NOOKSACK VALLEY 40
Nooksack Valley 9 8 12 11 - 40
Blaine 18 11 3 19 - 51
Nooksack Valley: Kaycee DeBruin 2,Taryn Tenkley 3, Lauren Dykstra 0, Lindsay Hayes 5, Julie Campos 0, Mariah Perry 5, Lindy Swanson 14, Morgan Perry 0, Melissa Stadt 11. Team totals: 15-55 4-8 40.
Blaine: Breanna Chau 9, Olivia Olason 7, Alexis McElwain 4, Nicole Ortega 0, Mandy Hayes 17, Rhiana Breedlove 2, Taylor V'Dovec 13. Team totals: 20-50 6-14 51.
3-ptg: Nooksack Valley 4 (Swanson 2), Blaine 5 (Hayes 3). Rebounds: Nooksack Valley 37 (Stadt 11), Blaine 36 (Chau 10). Assists: Nooksack Valley 10 (Mariah Perry 3), Blaine 8 (Olason 4). Fouls: Nooksack Valley 14, Blaine 12. Turnovers: Nooksack Valley 13, Blaine 15.