Breanna Chau was simply not going to go scoreless in her final game for Blaine.
So it wasn’t her final game.
Taylor V’Dovec was not going to end her high school career without one of her signature efforts.
So she didn’t have to sign off on a wonderful four years of one outstanding effort after another.
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As for Mandy Hayes, like Chau and V’Dovec one of the Northwest Conference’s most productive players for four years, she just kept her team alive until the other two seniors could take over.
V’Dovec, who missed the season’s first 13 games with a foot injury, kicked up a storm with 21 points, with 11in the fourth quarter, in Blaine’s 54-48 comeback win over Shorecrest in a Class 2A District 1 winner-to-state, loser-out thriller on Thursday, Feb. 19, at Mount Vernon High School.
The Borderites (11-12), who went 1-8 to start the season, said they never lost faith in themselves. The result was a berth in the Class 2A state regionals the weekend of Feb. 27-28. But first, Blaine will face Sehome, which shocked Archbishop Murphy 41-38, for third place on Saturday, Feb. 21, at 6 p.m. on the same court.
The game was tight throughout when Chau, beating the shot clock, threw up a 3-pointer off the glass to cut Shorecrest’s lead to 38-37 with 6:50 left to play.
“I wasn’t expecting it to go in, but I had to shoot,” Chau said with a wide smile of her first basket, but far from her first contribution, of the game. “We were absolutely determined to leave it all on the floor, and we did!”
V’Dovec then hit a 3 from the corner for a 40-38 lead. Shorecrest scored the next three points, but sophomore reserve Kiana Gray hit the shot of her life, a reverse layup, for a 42-41 advantage with 3:34 left.
After a V’Dovec free throw, the 5-foot-6 Chau -- a magnificent rebounded for her height -- rebounded a teammate’s miss off Hayes’s fifth steal of the wild game. V’Dovec then hit two more free throws for 47-41 with 1:04 remaining.Jazzlyn Owens gave Shorecrest (11-12) life with a 3-pointer at the 47-second mark, but the Borderites weren’t fazed.
V’Dovec converted a 3-point play off a drive and Hayes hit both one-and-one free throws with 15 seconds left, clinching the win at 52-45 and giving her 17 points in one of her most determined defensive efforts.
“Taylor also tells me she’s 110 percent,” Blaine coach Ryan Pike said with a laugh.
Was she close to 100 percent?
“Close enough!” said V’Dovec, who is looking forward to hooping it up at the Division III Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
V’Dovec averaged only 8 points in her handful of regular-season games and had 17 combined in her first two district games, so she wound up with 38 at district.
Mikayla Deming, who has been a reserve while her three senior classmates won a ton of games the previous three years, was grateful to be a starter in this most significant of games for the Borderites.
“My teammates never stopped encouraging me,” said Deming, referring to her drive to eventually become a regular contributor. Deming had four points and freshman sister Josie Deming had a second-quarter basket that enabled Blaine to hang in with a 25-22 halftime deficit.
Gray and Barb Pocus also turned in important reserve minutes. Gray had five points, two steals and two assists.
“I wasn’t worried at all,” said Hayes, who scored 15 of her 17 in the first three quarters. “We were all confident about it (the ability to come back).”
“They just stuck with our game plan and did a great job,” said Pike, expressing as much pride as he could.
Blaine 54, Shorecrest 48
Blaine: Barb Pocus 0, Breanna Chau 5, Josie Deming 2, Mikayla Deming 4, Kjirstin Larson 0, Mandy Hayes 17, Kiana Gray 5, Taylor V’Dovec 21. Totals: 17-50 15-18 54.
Shorecrest: Wurrie Njadoe 16, Uju Chibuogwu 13, Jazzlyn Owens 6, Arri Rantz 2, Julia Strand 6, Sheridan Stephenson 5, Bianca Harris 0, Samathna Shoemaker 0, Shelby Grech 0. Totals: 18-48 8-17 48.
3-point field goals — Blaine: 5 (Hayes 3); Shorecrest: 4 (Owens 2). Rebounds — Blaine: 28 (V’Dovec 7); Shorecrest: 26 (Chibuogwu 8). Assists — Blaine: 8 (Chau 4); Shorecrest: 5 (Njadoe 2). Fouls — Blaine: 11; Shorecrest: 15.