Sports Blog

Sports Blog: 1A girls' basketball playoff preview


Nooksack Valley at Blaine


Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m.


Blaine High School

Previous meetings:

Blaine 51, Nooksack Valley 48

How Nooksack Valley wins:

The Pioneers boast a balanced lineup, plain and simple. Nobody wows in terms of scoring, but Lindsay Hayes (9.3 points per game), Mariah Perry (8.8), Taryn Tenkley (6.8) and Brianna Turner (6.7) can all offer something troubling to Blaine on the offensive end. Whether that comes to fruition remains to be seen, as Nooksack Valley’s up-and-down season leaves much to be desired. The Pioneers enter winners of four of five games, but their 52-24 loss to Lynden Christian on Feb. 1 was a dismal performance against a team the Borderites nearly defeated. But if Nooksack Valley wants to hand Blaine on opening-round loss, the main thing it will have to do is take either Taylor V’Dovec (15.1) or Mandy Hayes (13.3) out of the game and make someone else for Blaine shoulder the scoring burden.

How Blaine wins:

The Borderites are the more explosive team scoring wise, but much of what they do on the offensive end revolves around three players — Taylor V’Dovec, Mandy Hayes and Lexi McElwain. V’Dovec, who enters averaging 15.1 points per game, pairs well with the sharpshooting of Hayes (13.3 points per game), and the two largely get their shots no matter the opponent. The key for Blaine is who will be that other person? McElwain does well to get on the offensive glass and get her points on putbacks, and if she is able to scoring in double figures, Blaine wins this game.

Coupeville at Mount Baker


Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m.


Mount Baker High School

How Mount Baker wins:

This isn’t the team that went 10-10 in the regular season. This is a team that is without their leading scorer, Emily Yost, and her 21.1 points per game this season. This is the team that has lost its past two games, including a 22-point loss to Bellingham in the regular-season finale. The Mountaineers are trying to figure out who will step up, and coach Brenda Ellis has brought up three players from junior varsity that are getting a legitimate minutes in the lineup. How this team fairs will largely depend on how sophomore Emily Brandland is able to step up and be the go-to scorer. She’s averaging 13.1 points per game this season with Yost on the floor, but with teams keying in on her open shots will be few and far between. Emma Lallas has shown spurts throughout the season as being a capable scorer, and she will definitely have to score more than her average of 5.1 points per game for the Mountaineers to get an opening-round win. If Brandland and Lallas combine for 30 points, Mount Baker will have a great shot at winning this game.

Meridian at Lynden Christian


Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m.


Lynden Christian High School

How Lynden Christian wins:

The Lyncs win if they do what they have done all season. Nothing more, nothing less. Lynden Christian went undefeated in the regular season in the Northwest Conference, defeating Lynden, Blaine and Ferndale to do so, and Meridian isn’t them. Kara Bajema has seen her points per game rise to 12.9, and the Trojans simply don’t have anything to counter her size. Nothing out of the ordinary is needed in this one for the Lyncs to move on.

How Meridian wins:

A herculean effort from several of its players. Ryley Zapien leads the Trojans with 13.1 points per game, and if they have any hopes of staging the upset, they’ll need 20-plus points from her. Janessa Murphy is second on the team with seven points per game, and like Zapien, she’ll need to do a lot more than that.