Cashmere's defense wears down Blaine (w/game video)

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMarch 8, 2014 

YAKIMA - There was no formula - no equation Blaine had at its disposal when facing a Cashmere team many thought would at very least play for a Class 1A state championship.

Instead, the Bulldogs' physical, almost angry play in the third-/fifth-place game proved a hill too steep to climb for the shorthanded Borderites, leading Cashmere to a 47-35 win on Saturday, March 8, at the Yakima Valley SunDome.

Blaine, which made its way off the court hobbled and tired after the three-day tournament, didn't exactly leave empty handed. The fifth-place finish for Ryan Pike and his team was the highest in the program's history in the 1A tournament, reducing the pain of the loss to the Bulldogs.

"Everything comes to an end at some point. No matter what it is, nothing lasts forever," Pike said. "We had March 8 circled when we started the first day of practice. ... You play March 8 and you get a trophy, and that's what we did."

Pike, following a Friday semifinal loss to King's, said he couldn't ask any more of his team than he did that night. That the Borderites had given everything they had to give. That was equally true Saturday, Blaine playing without its second leading scorer in Mandy Hayes, who had suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter of the semis and couldn't go.

Olivia Olason, one of Blaine's three seniors, opted to play despite what Pike said was a small fracture in her foot, gutting through 28 minutes.

"We're probably going to have to drag some to the hotel now because they didn't have any energy left," Pike said.

Blaine might prefer to forget the first quarter of the game, finding Cashmere's defense as tenacious as any the Borderites faced all season.

The Bulldogs forced Blaine into five turnovers in its first eight possessions. Taylor V'Dovec, who led the team in scoring with 14 points while adding eight rebounds and seven blocks, had four first-quarter points, but a 10-2 run by Cashmere to end the quarter found Blaine in a 19-9 hole.

Cashmere would get back-to-back 3-pointers by Lauren Johnson and Rylie Christensen at the end of the second quarter to build its lead to 27-12 going into the half.

The absence of Hayes was evident from the onset with the Borderites' offense struggling to find any rhythm.

"Without Mandy, it is a huge disadvantage offensively, defensively, just handling the ball," Pike said. "We had a lot of turnovers. ... We (had) to play different things on defense because we didn't have the depth we would have if Mandy is playing. She does a lot for our team, and (Saturday) it kind of showed."

The turnovers continued to pile on at the onset of the third. Blaine committed four in its first six possessions, and the Bulldogs continued to capitalize in the fast break. Johnson, who led Cashmere with 24 points, hit a 3-pointer and a layup in transition, ballooning the Bulldogs' lead to 36-16 midway through the third. A baseline jumper by Breanna Chau cut the lead to 40-22 Cashmere going into the fourth.

As the two teams made their way onto the court for the fourth, Blaine senior captain Alexis McElwain's attitude wasn't dampened despite the big deficit.

She looked to Chau and V'Dovec, urging the girls to fight.

"I mean I might not ever play basketball again," McElwain said. "Kind of just being the captain. Got to lead the girls. Got to show them what they have to do next year. Be the influence for them."

The team embodied that message, cutting Cashmere's lead to 45-34 after four consecutive points by McElwain late in the fourth. Cashmere's defense, which forced 26 Blaine turnovers, proved too stingy in the later parts of the game to allow any hope of a comeback.

And while McElwain had visions of a title shot, fifth place and a spot in Blaine history wasn't lost on her.

"I know we've been working at it for three years, and now all that hard work that I put in paid off," McElwain said. "Same with the other seniors and the girls that are juniors paid off."

CASHMERE 47, BLAINE 35

Cashmere 19 8 13 7 - 47

Blaine 9 3 10 13 - 35

FG FT Reb

Cashmere M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Mikayla Sites 2-8 0-0 2-8 2 2 5

Tianna Helm 0-4 0-2 2- 0 4 0

Breanne Knishka 3-20 4-6 2-3 4 2 10

Dani Morseman 0-2 1-2 0-0 0 0 1

Lauren Johnson 9-16 0-1 0-2 0 1 24

Sydnee Mongeon 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Karly Thies 0-0 1-2 2-3 0 2 1

Abbie Johnson 3-8 0-0 6-12 3 2 6

Corine Turner 0-1 0-0 1-1 0 0 0

Totals 17-59 6-13 22-38 9 13 47

Percentages: FG 28.8, FT 46.2 3-Point FG: 7-21, 33.3 (Sites 1-2, Helm 0-4, Knishka 0-10, L. Johnson 6-9). Blocked Shots: 0. Steals: 15 (Sites 2, Helm 1, Knishka 4, Morseman 2, L. Johnson 2, A. Johnson 4). Turnovers: 16 (Sites 1, Helm 2, Knishka 4, Morseman 3, L Johnson 2, Thies 1, A. Johnson 2).

FG FT Reb

Blaine M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Breanna Chau 3-12 0-0 2-7 2 2 7

Olivia Olason 0-3 0-0 1-1 0 3 0

Alexis McElwain 4-7 2-5 5-9 3 3 10

Mikayla Deming 1-2 2-2 1-5 1 0 4

Kjistin Larson 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 0 0

Kiana Gray 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Rhiana Breedlove 0-1 0-0 0-1 0 1 0

Taylor V'Dovec 6-17 2-4 2-8 0 2 14

Totals 14-42 66-11 15-41 6 11 35

Percentages: FG 33.3, FT 54.5 3-Point FG: 1-10, 10 (Chau 1-6, Olason 0-1, McElwain 0-1, V'Dovec 0-2). Blocked Shots: 8 (V'Dovec 7, McElwain 1). Steals: 8 (Chau 4, V'Dovec 2, McElwain 1, Larson 1). Turnovers: 26 (Chau 7, Olason 3, McElwain 7, Deming 2, Larson 1, Gray 1, Breedlove 1, V'Dovec 3).


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