It was Senior Night and for all but the last two seconds of the Squalicum-Blaine girls basketball game, the two teams’ four seniors were overshadowed by underclassmen.
But those two seconds were the difference as Blaine senior Krystin Kamrath sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Borderites an exciting 38-36 Northwest Conference victory at Squalicum on Wednesday night, Jan. 26.
“Three in the corner,” said a smiling Kamrath of the play that had been called seconds earlier in the Blaine huddle. “We’ve lost a lot of close ones. It feels good to get one.”
The victory raised the Borderites’ overall record to 5-7 and their NWC mark to 4-7. The loss dropped the Storm to 5-7 overall and 5-7 in league.
Up to the final play, a pair of sophomores had dominated the game.
Blaine’s Deja Dube scored the Borderites’ first nine points and finished with a game-high 20 points, including four 3-pointers.
For Squalicum, it was point guard Mari Binning, who had a team-high 14 points, led the Storm defense that held Blaine to three points in the third quarter, and ran an offense that took a 12-point lead early in the fourth period.
But the fourth quarter proved to be all Blaine. The Borderites’ defense limited Squalicum to four free throws and with Dube hitting a pair of 3s and eight points, Blaine clawed back into the game.
Still, when junior Shelby Smithson sank both free throws to give the Storm a 36-33 lead with 29 seconds left, it looked like Squalicum would have just enough to hang on. But Blaine senior Hailey Pike hit a layup with 17 seconds left and when Squalicum missed a pair of free throws, the Borderites had one last chance.
“I didn’t think we had time,” said Blaine coach Ryan Pike who called a timeout with nine seconds left. “But Krystin came up big. I’m excited for her. That’s a shot she’ll remember for the rest of her life.”
Kamrath would finish with 10 points and Pike had 6, but it was an unusually quiet night for Blaine’s two senior leaders on offense. On defense, however, Pike dominated the boards and had several blocks, while Kamrath led the quick-handed Borderites, who had 15 steals for the game.
“We battled back from 12 points down in the fourth quarter and that’s hard to do,” said coach Pike. “It’s something they can take with them not only this season but for the coming years. It’s never too late. They’ll remember that they did it once and can do it again.”
Dube, who made the pass to Kamrath in the final seconds, agreed: “We never gave in. This will bring up our morale.”
It was a difficult loss for the Storm, who got 9 points from junior Callie McEachran and 6 points from sophomore Caitlyn Richardson.
“I went into shock,” said Binning of her reaction at the end. “I thought we had the game won and then they hit a lucky shot. I was definitely disappointed, but we played hard.”
Maybe the most disappointed member of the Storm was coach Ray Ootsey, who praised his team’s effort but criticized his own performance, specifically his inability to substitute in the team’s two seniors, Jasmine Meyer and Jenna Lewis.
“I’m not so hurt about the loss,” he said. “I could have done better situationally. I have to do better than that. That’s how I let them down.”
Squalicum’s next game is Thursday, Jan. 27, when the Storm host cross-town rival Sehome. Squalicum finishes its regular season on the road against Anacortes on Wednesday, Feb. 2, and Lakewood on Friday, Feb. 4.
The Borderites are in action again on Friday, Jan. 28, when they host Oak Harbor. They wrap up the regular season next week when they travel to Anacortes on Monday, Jan. 31, and Nooksack Valley on Wednesday, Feb. 2, and then host Ferndale on Thursday, Feb. 3, and Sedro-Woolley on Saturday, Feb. 5.