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Feb. 6, 2018

Girls basketball blows out Springbrook

by Emma Markus, Staff Writer
The Blair Blazers (11-4) defeated the Springbrook Blue Devils (3-10-1) with a final score of 71-44 on Wednesday, January 31. Blair's full court defense put consistent pressure on Springbrook and shut down a great number of their shot opportunities, and on offense, the Blazers excelled both in transition and getting second chance points off rebounds to secure another victory.

As usual, the game started off slowly. The score stayed tied at 0-0 until nearly six minutes into the first half when forward Nora Olagbaju passed to point guard Alyana McFadden (both seniors) who went up for the layup. McFadden's shot bounced off the rim, but senior center Aissatou Bokoum was there to grab the rebound. Bokoum was fouled as she went back up for another shot, sending Blair to the line for the first free throws of the game. Bokoum missed both free throw shots, but after her second shot bounced off the rim, Olagbaju quickly secured the rebound and finally put in the first basket of the game.

The solid Blazer defense utilized a powerful full court press to keep the Blue Devils out of the paint and prevent them from getting much of an offense going early on. "We worked together really well in the press today," reflects senior L'shana Cobey. With five and a half minutes left, Nora and Alyana passed back and forth all the way down the floor to break down the Blue Devil defense so that Olagbaju could find Bokoum in the paint. Bokoum was fouled as she put up the shot, leading to another free throw opportunity for Bokoum.

Springbrook received possession after Bokoum's free throws and started a short offensive streak in part due to a turnover by the Blazers at midcourt that led to an easy layup by the Blue Devils. Blair faced aggressive Springbrook defenders who marked them tightly and made it difficult to get good shots off. On the next possession, the Blue Devils took an ill-advised jump shot on the Blazers but it clanked off the rim and Bokoum secured the rebound. Bokoum passed the ball up to junior shooting guard Megan Burke who sent the the ball back to Bokoum in transition for a shot. Olagbaju grabbed the rebound from Bokoum's shot and finished it.

Blair's full court press was very effective and the pressure led to a turnover by Springbrook. Burke capitalized on this opportunity, passing the ball to Olagbaju who scored. Springbrook took the ball back down to Blair's basket and attempted a shot, but Olagbaju got the rebound. Coach Pete Stephan called a timeout with one and a half minutes left in the opening quarter.

After the timeout, with just one minute left in the quarter, McFadden took the ball down the court herself, driving to the basket and scoring to give the Blazers a 12-8 lead.

Blair continued their full court press in the second quarter, and it stifled Springbrook. The Blue Devils had a hard time breaking down the press, making it difficult for them to even get near Blair's basket. "There was a great team effort as far as defense," Coach Pete Stephan commended his players after the game.

McFadden stole the ball from the Springbrook point guard down by Blair's basket and quickly sent a long ball ahead for Olagbaju who capitalized on the breakaway opportunity with a clean layup. Springbrook missed a layup on the ensuing possession. Olagbaju got the rebound and sent the ball to McFadden. McFadden slowed down the play, waited for the prime opportunity, and then found Olagbaju down low for another layup.

Following a Springbrook possession, the Blazers had a series of strong passes up court that broke down the Springbrook press. After many combinations of passes the ball was sent to senior L'shana Cobey who was fouled as she went up for her shot. Cobey made both her free throws, extending the Blazer's lead to 10 points.

On a fast break McFadden passed to freshman Kate Hildebrandt who made a layup. With about three and a half minutes left in the second half, sophomore Adia Keene sent the ball to Hildebrant who made another lay up. Springbrook countered with a quick layup right back. Back on offense, McFadden attempted a shot that bounced off the rim, but Adia was there to get the rebound and finish a layup. Olagbaju was then fouled as she went up for a shot and made the first of her two free throws. After the free throws, Springbrook was given possession and made a fast break down the court.

After a long Springbrook possession in which they gathered up a few offensive boards but were unable to score, McFadden secured the rebound, and, allowing her teammates to get up the court, sent it up to freshman Peyton Martin who missed her shot. The Blue Devils got the rebound, took it down court and made a three pointer right before the buzzer sounded, bringing the score to 29-19 at half time.

Blazers we unable to add on to their ten point lead, but fortunately the defense stayed strong well into the third quarter until Olagbaju was fouled in the paint and made both her free throws, extending the lead to twelve points. However, on the next possession, the Blazers fouled a Blue Devil player who then also made both her free throws, making it a ten point game once again. The Blazers got in some foul trouble this game; Bokoum even fouled out later on. The abundance of fouls can be attributed to lack of movement. "We need to work on moving our feet, instead of just putting our hands up and smacking other defenders," points out Cobey.

With only five minutes left in the quarter, McFadden drove down court and sent the ball to Olagbaju who made a layup. After another missed jumpshot by Springbrook, the Blazers received possession and McFadden took off on a fast break that resulted in a layup. The Blue Devils countered with a shot that missed, and Burke got the rebound. Following a timeout, with three minutes left in the third, McFadden stole the ball and scored. Then, with just fifteen seconds left in the quarter, the Blazers attempted to slow down the pace of play down around Springbrook's basket, but the ball went out of bounds. Possession went to the Blazers who threw the ball in to McFadden who, with then only six seconds left in the game, hit a three pointer from the outside corner. The third quarter ended with a score of 52-31.

At the start of the fourth quarter, sophomore Michela Rooney was fouled as she shot. Rooney made one of her two free throws. Olagbaju tried to drive to the basket but missed her shot. Springbrook got the rebound and tried to build up a counterattack, but they let the ball out of bounds and Blair got possession.

Blair's offense picked up speed when Martin drove to the basket and made a layup. Multiple Blair players tried to put a few more shots up and after many tries, Olagbaju eventually scored. Springbrook went back on offense and made a quick layup. After a timeout with only 3:40 left in the game, Burke made an impressive drive to basket but was fouled as she shot. Burke missed both free throws.

After a short Springbrook possession, Keene made a layup, but Springbrook quickly countered with lay up in return. It appeared as though Springbrooks offense may have begun to find its rhythm late, but they airballed a jumpshot on their next possession. Hildebrandt got the rebound made a breakaway that resulted in a layup. Burke stole the ball at half court and passed to Hildebrant who made another layup. With only one minute left in the game, Hildebrandt then assisted Martin who made a layup. Blair didn't relent in the last few minutes, continuing their game plan of getting into the paint and using their size to finish layups, which helped them to continue to add on to their lead until the final buzzer sounded. The final score of the game was 71-44.

The Blair Blazers will hope to continue their winning ways when they face the Poolesville Falcons on Friday, February 2.



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