By Oliver Lazenby
After four fierce back-and-forth quarters, the Blaine boys varsity basketball team trailed Meridian by one point in overtime with 50 seconds left on January 3. The players on the court might not have known what head coach Brett Farrar knew: the Borderites had a shot at winning their first conference game since 2016.
Blaine’s Josh Russ rebounded a missed Meridian shot and took off on a fast break. He passed to Adam Vega who drove to the hoop and made a basket despite getting fouled. Vega’s free throw put Blaine up 75–73 with 12 seconds to go, and the Borderites held off Meridian’s last chance at tying the game.
“The kids were really ecstatic in the locker room after the game,” Farrar said. “It’s good to see all their hard work and dedication paying off in a game like that.”
Vega scored 20 points, Russ scored 19, Zane Rector had 18 and Kyle Turnberg had seven points, seven assists and three steals. Colby Knutzen played tough defense guarding Meridian’s two top-scorers, Farrar said.
“The kids are working hard and doing everything we ask of them and we’re definitely seeing marked improvements,” he said. “You’re never sure if the players see it but as coaches we see the improvement, so we’re always trying to encourage them.”
Before the game, Farrar referred to a conference victory as a mental hurdle that “we would definitely like to take care of sooner rather than later.” Blaine has a 6–7 record overall, so the team was ready to snap its 27-game losing streak in conference games.
The victory provides validation, but Blaine played close conference games against both Burlington-Edison and Lakewood in late December. Over the holiday break, Blaine won non-conference games against Lynnwood and Granite Falls and after losing 60–40 to Ferndale on January 8, the team’s record is 1–5 in conference games.
Contributions on offense and defense from a variety of players have been a highlight of the Borderites’ season so far. In a 68–58 win against Lynnwood, Rector and Vega each scored 16, Russ scored 18 and Ben Wallen scored 10.
“Anytime you get four guys in double figures you’re doing pretty well,” Farrar said. “It’s a team sport and you want everyone to contribute and do their jobs and these guys are doing that.”
Next, Blaine travels to Sehome to play at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, January 11. Blaine plays at home next at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, January 15 against Sedro-Woolley.