Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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Feb. 5, 2017

Boys' basketball is taken down by Magruder

by Benjamin Yokoyama, Online Sports Editor
The Blair Blazers' boys' basketball team (7-8) threw different defensive looks at their opponents, but could not keep up with the Magruder Colonels' (11-6) accuracy from behind the three point arc. Even a big third quarter comeback that reeled the Colonels' lead to just three points could not keep the Blazers out of the loss column with a 64-55 loss.

To start the game sophomore Ethan Ellis benefitted from a Colonel turnover and converted on a fastbreak layup, and the Blazers seems poised to avenge a 15-point loss from earlier in the season at Magruder. Blair may have gotten too ambitious as they tried to find Ellis on the break yet again, but launched a pass over his head for turnover. After Ellis' basket, senior center Julius Cobb took over on offense for the Blazers and was the only Blazer who scored for the rest of the quarter, scoring eight of his team-high 23 points.

Defensively Blair started off in a zone that really sagged off Magruder's perimeter players. The Colonels figured out the zone by throwing a skip pass over the centered Blair defense to a wide open guard, who sank the first of many threes. Magruder hit two more threes before hitting another wide open triple moments before the buzzer sounded. The Blazer had dug themselves an 11-point hole, 21-10 at the end of one quarter.

Early in the second quarter, after giving up another three pointer, the Blazers called timeout and came out in a man-to-man defense. The Colonels responded by hitting another three. The Blazers kept up with Magruder for the rest of the quarter. Ellis and senior Kendall Douglas each scored five points in the quarter as they helped Cobb keep the game in reach, with Blair still down by 11 at halftime. They held the Colonels to just 11 points in the quarter, their lowest scoring quarter of the game. Coming into the game, Cobb knew the Blazers had to start with energy, but noticed that the team had trouble hitting shots. "Offensively, we always plan on coming out with a lot of energy, but we weren't really hitting our shots, so we got started a little too late," he said.

Coming out after halftime, Blair was able to find their way to the hoop. Cobb missed a pair of free throws, but set the tone for his team. After guard Demetri Cooper hit a three, Cobb followed with a fadeaway jumped and another basket off an inbound lob from Cooper. When Douglas got to the line and scored one of his 14 points, the Blazers started a 9-0 run fueled by a turnover where both Douglas and Ellis went to the floor to secure a loose ball. The run ended with a big block by Cobb with 10 seconds left in the quarter that led to a free throw by guard Hau Le to cut the Colonels' lead to three. But Blair let Magruder slip through their defense as time wound down, and the score was 49-44. Cobb attributed his team's swing in momentum in the third quarter to trying to dig themselves out of the hole. "During one of the timeouts coach told us to try to trap everything, but mainly it was us being down by so many early that caused us to play desperate and gave us some more energy," Cobb said.

The Colonels came out of the gate in the fourth with another three pointer, while Cobb's two point fadeaway jumper was not enough to keep the game close. Magruder made 12 free throws down the stretch to close out the win and sweep the season series against the Blazers. The game ended 64-55 as Blair tried to keep it close by fouling to extend the game. Looking ahead the Blazers will have to focus on maintaining possession and decreasing turnovers. "We have to cut down turnovers, first quarter we had eight of them and cutting those down will help us," Cobb said

Next the Blazers will face the Northwood Gladiators (2-16) next Tuesday.

Editor's note: The Blazers (8-8) defeated the upstart Kennedy Cavaliers (16-2) by a score of 63-60 on Friday night. Blair's starters were all in double figures. Ethan Ellis led the team with 15, but Demetri Cooper scored 14, Kendall Douglas scored 12 and Julius Cobb and Anthony Smith-Davis scored 11 each. Blair was able to grab the win despite Kennedy leading scorer Jonathan Mustamu's 19 points.
Stats for Kennedy vs. Blair courtesy of All Met Sports



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