Blaine's Breanna Chau hit back-to-back 3-pointers to spark a pivotal run for the Borderites against Woodland on March 1, but what came afterward spoke louder than the snap of the net.
Borderites coach Ryan Pike called a timeout immediately following the second of her two 3s, and she sprinted over to the huddle and immediately snatched the attention of her teammates. Pike stood on the periphery of the huddle watching his junior point guard be the leader he needed her to be in a win-or-go-home game against a team that had yet to lose all season.
"Without her we would be lost, I think," said Pike of his junior point guard. "She's a really fiery personality, and so you like that as a point guard. You want your quarterback on the football field to be a little feisty, a little fiery, to have a little fight in them."
She's his point guard - his floor commander - and despite standing barely 5-foot-5, her temperament is that of a giant.
She's not lacking in any of those particular categories, Pike said, adding that to make it to the Class 1A State Girls' Basketball Championships is a testament to Chau's maturation as their point guard.
"If you don't have a point guard that can run your offense, you're not going to be in the final eight," Pike said. "Having a point guard on the same level as the coach is huge, and this year Breanna and I have made strides together."
Blaine begins its run at the 2014 Hardwood Classic against Mabton at 9 p.m. Thursday, March 6, at the SunDome in Yakima. Mabton is coming off a regional-round win over the No. 2-ranked team in Class 1A, Brewster, while the Borderites beat previously-unbeaten Woodland to earn their berth into the state quarterfinals.
Chau's ability to run the point is only overshadowed by her tenacity on defense, both of which are paramount to Blaine's future successes.
Against the Beavers, Chau and fellow guard Olivia Olason helped hold their backcourt of Jessica Flanagan, Sidra Malik and Kendall Grell to 8-of-32 shooting, and they combined to go 0 of 6 from the field in the fourth quarter.
"In my head, I'm like 'We're going to get a stop this time. We're going to get a stop because then we're going to get buckets on offense,'" said Chau of using strong defense to lead to good offense. "I want to pester them up higher so they're getting flustered."
Flanagan, Woodland's point guard and leading scorer, shot just 3 of 17 from the field against Chau, who played all 32 minutes in the game.
Her tenacity on defense sometimes comes at a price, though. Against Eatonville in tri-districts Feb. 20, Chau picked up two early fouls and found herself on the bench for an extended period of time. In such a case, Pike said, it dampens her aggressiveness, taking away what makes her unique.
"Some players, when you try to reel them in they get reeled in too far and they stop being aggressive and stop being themselves, and that's one thing I avoid with her," Pike said. "I want her to be herself throughout the whole entire game, no matter how many fouls she has. ... Her game on defense is predicated on being fiery, being in your face, talking - just being a gnat."
This is her second trip to the state championships after going as a freshman. The atmosphere and lead up is different, she said, remembering back to being wide-eyed and in awe of the stage. Now, though, things are much simpler - much quieter. There is no confusion about what her role is.
"We definitely know what we want, and we (have) to play our game and not get flustered and don't get distracted or anything," Chau said. "We just have to focus on us and play. ... I think it's more of a bigger goal to actually place at state or bring home the gold ball."
Mabton is just the first in line.
Reach Alex Bigelow at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.
BLAINE VS. MABTON
When: 9 p.m., Thursday, March 6
Where: Yakima SunDome
Player G Pts. Avg.
Breanna Chau 25 152 6.1
Gretchen Kordas 8 0 0.0
Olivia Olason 25 79 3.2
Alexis McElwain 26 257 9.9
Emily Roe 8 4 0.5
Mikayla Deming 25 76 3.0
Kjirstin Larson 21 30 1.4
Rhiana Breedlove 21 25 1.2
Taylor V'Dovec 25 411 16.4
Mandy Hayes 25 325 13.0
Kiana Gray 2 6 3.0
BLAINE (20-7), (9-3)
Dec. 6 at Sedro-Woolley W, 57-13
Dec. 7 at Concrete W 62-3
Dec. 10 at Mount Baker W, 52-44
Dec. 13 Ferndale L, 46-42
Dec. 17 at Meridian W, 62-23
Dec. 19 at Lynden Christian* L, 44-42
Dec. 27 at Cashmere L, 54-31
Dec. 28 Brewster L, 78-62
Jan. 3 at Nooksack Valley* W, 51-48
Jan. 6 Anacortes * W, 44-34
Jan. 9 at Bellingham* W, 54-31
Jan. 14 at Ferndale* L, 64-52
Jan. 16 Squalicum* W, 49-33
Jan. 20 at Sehome* W, 69-39
Jan. 24 Meridian* W, 79-38
Jan. 28 Mount Baker* W, 62-40
Jan. 31 at Lynden * L, 52-45
Feb. 1 at Friday Harbor W, 60-36
Feb. 4 Sedro-Woolley* W, 67-31
Feb. 7 Burlington-Edison* W, 59-51
1A NORTHWEST DISTRICT PLAYOFFS
Feb.11 Nooksack Valley W, 56-39
Feb. 13 at King's L, 55-26
Feb. 14 Coupeville W, 50-40
Feb. 15 Nooksack Valley W, 49-37
CLASS 1A TRI-DISTRICTS
Feb. 18 at Bellevue Christian W, 44-41
Feb. 20 Eatonville W, 60-44
CLASS 1A REGIONAL ROUND OF STATE
March 1 Woodland W, 39-36