The Squalicum girls basketball team first disregarded its winless record and then ignored Blaine’s furious comeback to hold on for the Storm’s first win of the season, 37-25, on Monday, Dec. 16.
“I told them to celebrate the win,” said Squalicum coach Ray Ootsey, whose squad came into the game 0-4. “I’m glad for them. I told them they are 1-0 (in the Northwest Conference standings).”
Indeed. Despite losing all four of its non-league games to start the season, the Storm won the NWC opener at home.
Now they are setting their sights on qualifying for the 3A Northwest District tournament, according to junior guard Grace Schroder, something they missed by one game last year.
“We were super positive tonight,” said Schroder, who sparked the Storm with 12 points, including three 3-pointers. “We started out rocky, but it was a team effort. Everybody contributed.”
For the Borderites (2-3 overall, 0-1 in league), it was a case of too few contributing on the offensive end. Sophomore Krystin Kamrath had 15 points to lead Blaine, but only five Borderites scored and no one else had more than 4 points.
“Sometimes you hit your shots and sometimes you don’t,” said Blaine coach Ryan Pike. “It’s tough to press and run when you don’t score.”
Both teams were cold in the first half with the Storm holding a 17-14 edge at the break, but the Borderites were freezing in the third quarter, managing only 2 points as they fell behind by a dozen.
Still, behind Kamrath’s seven fourth-quarter points, Blaine fought back to within 28-25 with three minutes left.
But Leah Austin got inside for a 3-point play, Nicole Adams hit a jumper and the Storm closed it out by hitting their free throws. Kali Haizlip was dominant inside, leading Squalicum with 14 points, 12 of them in the second half.
While Blaine came into the game with a better record, the Borderites have had to overcome a lot this season.
With only 12 players turning out for basketball, some of whom had never played in high school, the squad is not only young but inexperienced. And to make it even more challenging, all five of their games this season have been on the road.
“We can’t wait to play for the home crowd,” said Kamrath, who will finally get her wish Wednesday when the Borderites host Anacortes.
For all the scores and standings, check out nwcathletics.com.
Jim Carberry is a former Bellingham Herald sports editor and author of several books on Whatcom County prep basketball. Follow him on Twitter @whatcomhoops and visit the Whatcom Hoops Facebook page.