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March 3, 2016

Boys’ basketball mounts playoff comeback to advance

by James Sleigh, Online Sports Editor
The Blair boys’ basketball team (13-9) beat the Richard Montgomery Rockets (18-4) in stunning fashion to advance to the next round of the playoffs. The Blazers had a strong showing in the second half to beat the top seeded Rockets. Although Blair got off to a slow start, crucial big-man play from twins Julius and Jordan Cobb contributed to Blair’s late success.

After losing the tip-off and getting conceding on the first possession, it looked like a simple victory for the Maryland 4A West championship contenders from Rockville. Center Zaire Mitchell, the Rockets best player on the floor for much of the game, put the Rockets ahead 9-3, causing an early timeout to be called by Blair head coach Damon Pigrom. After the timeout, Blair managed to close out the quarter with senior captains Tucker Nosal and Jordan Williams contributing assists and points. Blair remained in touching distance, hoping to push on into the second quarter with the score at 16-7.

The Blazers came out of the blocks in the second quarter, drawing an offensive foul on the Rockets on the opening possession. Nosal brought the Blazers right back in it by drawing a foul from a three point shot, sinking all three of his free-throws. Brothers Julius and Jordan Cobb proved effective in shutting down the 6’6’’ Mitchell, with Jordan contributing a block mid-way through the second quarter. The Blazers went into halftime with more confidence and a smaller lead, only trailing the Rockets 31-26.

After halftime, the Blazers went cold again, allowing for RM to make one of their scoring runs. The Rocket’s high press forced turnovers and low percentage shots from the Blazers, and with the score at 47-35 halfway through the third quarter, it looked like Blair had lost its steam. Key player Jordan Williams also went down late in the quarter with what seemed to be a painful injury. He returned in the final quarter, but was not as effective as he was before the injury.

With five minutes left on the clock in the game, the Rocket’s lead Blair by ten points. Once again the Cobb brothers were on fire down the stretch, with each contributing massive points in the paints to cut the lead to three points with 3:12 left. After a layup from Cobb, Blair led 59-58 with 1:21 remaining.

Junior guard Demetri Cooper sunk one of his two free throws, making the score 60-58 with only seconds left to play. The Rockets nearly forced the game into overtime with a floater that hit the front iron with the clock winding down.

Blair faces Whitman in a tough match-up in the next round. The regular season meeting produced a defensive battle, which Whitman edged Blair with a tight 45-43 win.



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