Blaine boys basketball on to quarterfinals with upset win over Zillah


The Blaine boys basketball team opened up its state tournament run with a win over No. 2 Zillah High School February 25 at Davis High School in Yakima. Blaine won 61-58, as the No. 7 seed in Class 1A and put an end to Zillah’s 20-game win streak.

The win advances the Borderites to the quarterfinals, where they will play the winner of March 1 game between No. 8 Overlake and No. 16 Lakeside (9 Mile). All quarterfinal games are Thursday, March 2. Blaine will play at 9 p.m. in the Yakima SunDome.

Defending state champions No. 1 Lynden Christian also advanced to the quarterfinals after beating Overlake 69-49 February 25. The Lyncs will play the winner of No.10 Seattle Academy and Zillah at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the dome. 

The Borderites are at their second consecutive state tournament, after going out to Quincy in the first round last year. The last time Blaine went to back-to-back state tournaments was in 2002.

Blaine started strong Saturday evening, taking a 17-9 lead into the second quarter. The Zillah Leopards clawed their way back in the second to make it a two-point game at halftime. They made it a one-point game going into the fourth quarter, but Blaine wasn’t going to hand them 21 wins.

The Borderites scored 20 points to maintain their lead and secure the win over the Leopards. Senior Mathew Russ had six points in the fourth quarter, and junior Noah Tavis had seven as Blaine built up an eight-point lead. Tavis made an early 3-pointer that sparked a 5-0 Blaine run to start the period and give the Borderites a lead they would hold at four until the final buzzer.

Russ finished with 19 points, senior Carson Lehnert and Tavis had 10 each, senior Lucas Smith had 9, senior Ethan Koreski had 8 and senior Lawrence Creasey-Pulphus had 5.

If Blaine wins Thursday, they go on to the second semifinal game Friday, March 3, which will be played at 9 p.m. in the Yakima SunDome. The final is Saturday, March 4 at 5 p.m. in the dome. At this point in the tournament, it is double-elimination. If Blaine loses, they will enter into the loser’s bracket and play for fifth or third place, depending on when they lose.

The last time Blaine won a state trophy was in 2004, which was the end of its glory era for boys basketball. The Borderites went to state 14 times between 1986 and 2004, winning two state championships and 10 trophies.

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