In a contest between two young squads trying to find themselves, it was the two veterans of the Blaine girls basketball team who made the difference in a 64-36 non-league victory over host Lummi Nation on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 11.
Hailey Pike dominated inside with 23 points and fellow senior Krystin Kamrath added a dozen points while sparking the Borderites’ offense and defense as Blaine led the whole way to even its record at 1-1.
“We’re still learning about ourselves,” said Blaine coach Ryan Pike, whose squad played its opener at Northwest Conference power Burlington-Edison just 18 hours earlier. “For a back-to-back game in the middle of the day, it was a good test for us.”
It was a good test for Lummi Nation too. Because flooding had limited the team’s number of practices, Saturday’s game was the Blackhawks’ opener and even new coach Krista Jefferson confessed to being nervous.
“It was nice to get the first-game jitters out of the way,” said Jefferson, who started two juniors and three sophomores. “We definitely wanted to have fun and make sure all of them got to play. We want to be ready when we play girls at our level.”
Be watching Sunday for the Week 2 girls and boys recaps at WhatcomHoops.com.
In the first half, the Class 1B Blackhawks were definitely not at the same level as the Class 1A Borderites, whose school has roughly five times as many students. Lummi Nation managed only 12 points against the Blaine defense and fell behind by 22.
But once the Blackhawks settled in and Blaine concentrated on running its offensive plays, the second half was relatively even.
Returning junior guards and first cousins Raven Solomon and Aleisha Solomon had 9 and 8 points, respectively, for Lummi Nation, but the biggest surprise was little Keyonne Morris, a sophomore who had a team-high 13 points, including three 3-pointers.
“We were really nervous at first,” said Morris, who as an eighth-grader was on the Lummi Nation team that qualified for state in 2020. “There was a lot of pressure. But we didn’t give up. And we had fun. It was a good experience.”
It also was a good opportunity for the Borderites to play all eight of their varsity players, five of whom are either sophomores or freshmen.
Deja Dube had 14 point and 9 rebounds, and fellow sophomores Jordyn Vezzetti had 7 points and 8 rebounds, and Alia Ball had 9 rebounds.
“We wanted to work on running our plays and getting to know each other better,” said Hailey Pike, who like Kamrath is a four-year standout for the Borderites. “We want to build the confidence of all the girls.”
While coach Pike said the team will have to keep its intensity level up the whole game as it tackles the strong Northwest Conference schedule, he was glad his short-handed team was able to play some five-on-five for a change.
“We’ve only got seven or eight girls at practice so whenever we can play against five different girls, it’s a positive for us,” said the coach. “All in all, it was a good game for us.”
Lummi Nation opens Northwest 1B League play on Monday when the Blackhawks travel to Lopez Island for a girls-boys doubleheader. Blaine’s next game is against Bellingham on Tuesday in the Borderites’ third straight road game.
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.