LYNDEN - Rarely does a team walk away from a double-digit loss feeling good about itself, but Blaine coach Ryan Pike couldn't have been more proud of his Borderites' play against defending Class 1A state champion Brewster. And for good reason.
Brewster entered day two of the Cloud 9 Sports Christmas Classic owning two impressive statistics - a perfect record and a 41.4 average margin of victory. No opponent had lost by less than 28 points, including Lynden Christian, which lost by 29 on day one of the Classic.
Pike said Blaine turned in its best overall performance of the year, but the Borderites still suffered a 78-62 loss Saturday afternoon, Dec. 28, at Lynden Christian High School.
And Brewster senior Chandler Smith, who has signed to play for University of Nebraska, had a lot to do with it, thanks to her game-high 39 points. That gives Smith 69 points in two games after hanging 30 on LC on Friday. Monica Landdeck and Markie Miller each scored 15 against Blaine.
"I thought we played great today," Pike said. "I told them today was probably the most complete game we have had all season. Chandler Smith went off in the second half and had a whole lot of points, but there wasn't really a lot we could do about it."
Borderites junior guard Mandy Hayes, who scored 17 points, couldn't slow Smith and neither could any of the other Blaine defenders. Smith craftily created open shots and rarely missed. She hit step-back 3s and rose over defenders with legitimate elevated long-range jump shots when defenders were close.
The Borderites (4-4, 0-1 NWC) simply didn't have an answer for the talented 6-footer.
Early, though, Blaine proved it could hang with the arguably the best team in the 1A's, and the Borderites got a lot of help from senior forward Alexis McElwain, who scored a team-high 21 points and grabbed six rebounds. Taylor V'Dovec finished with 15 points and a team-best seven rebounds and Breanna Chau added a game-high seven assists to her six points.
Blaine limited Smith to two points in the first quarter and led 17-15 after eight minutes as Hayes helped her team get off to a fast start, scoring 10 of her 17 points.
"Probably just the fact that we knew they had won state last year, and we wanted to come out and prove how good we really were," said McElwain of what she credited to Blaine's first-quarter lead.
The Borderites found themselves down only 35-34 at the half after V'Dovec hit two free throws with 0:41 left and McElwain beat the second-quarter buzzer with a layup off a nice feed from Chau.
But Blaine couldn't stop Smith's amazing third-quarter shooting display. The Brewster senior went 8 for 10 in the period for 17 points and scored 11 of them in the first 2:50.
"They just cleared out the side and let her kind of do what she does," Pike said. "Her offense is incredible. We tried our best to stop her, but she just kept scoring."
V'Dovec scored nine points in the third and helped Blaine brave Brewster's scoring run, but Smith and the Bears had taken a 60-53 lead heading into the fourth when Blaine's hot shooting finally went cold. The Borderites had shot 51 percent during the first three quarters but were 2 of 15 in the final period.
McElwain scored three straight points with 4:45 to go to cut Brewster's lead to 65-60, but the Bears closed the game on a 13-2 scoring run.
"I felt we played amazing," McElwain said. "We came out and hit the shots like we needed to. We played as a team, which is something we have been lacking."
Pike saw his club's ability to battle back after Blaine suffered a demoralizing loss against Cashmere during day one of the Christmas Classic.
"Resiliency," he said, when asked what he's learned about his team the past two games. "We had a bad game yesterday, but we bounced back. We're going to have bad games, but it's how you respond. Our mental toughness was great."
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports for Whatcom County sports updates.
BREWSTER 78, BLAINE 62
Brewster 15 20 25 18 - 78
Blaine 17 17 19 9 - 62
Brewster: Brette Boesel 6, Vanessa Terrones 0, Monica Landdeck 15, Chandler Smith 39, Markie Miller 15, Maggie Brammer 0. Team totals: 26-58 17-20 78.
Blaine: Breanna Chau 6, Olivia Olason 1, Alexis McElwain 21, Mikayla Deming 2, Mandy Hayes 17, Rhiana Breedlove 0, Taylor V'Dovec 15. Team totals: 22-54 13-20 62.
3-ptg: Brewster 7 (Landdeck 3), Blaine 5 (Hayes 3). Rebounds: Brewster 25 (Miller 8), Blaine 24 (V'Dovec 7). Assists: Brewster 6 (Smith 2), Blaine 11 (Chau 7). Fouls: Brewster 12, Blaine 15 (Hayes). Turnovers: Brewster 11, Blaine 12.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.