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Feb. 2, 2006

Blair's trying season continues with rough home loss

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor

It has been a very trying season for the Blair Blazers basketball team. Coming off a week where the team lost at home by 32 and on the road by 16, it seemed as if it could now get worse. But, at least in one sense, Blair continues to defy the odds.

The Blazers had their worst shooting performance in years and scored zero points in the fourth quarter, en route to a 46-22 defeat at the hands of the Walt Whitman Vikings. The Vikings stripped Blair of the ball 15 times, and the Blazers' leading scorer contributed just five points.

Blair assistant coach Emmanuel Charles was blunt about the loss. "We played terribly," he said.

It was the fourth loss in a row for Blair (3-11), which has now fallen to seventh place in the Maryland 4A East standings. They are one game ahead of last place Churchill, who is 1-10 in the division, with their only win coming against the Blazers.

While Charles could explain the loss, everybody was at a loss for words about the scoreless fourth quarter. "I have no idea how we couldn't score a point," said head coach Orlando Larracuente.

Mohammed Roberson, who was Blair's second-leading scorer tonight with four points, couldn't explain it either. "I can't give you any reason for that. That was insane."

It was likely a combination of turnovers, terrible shooting and slow play. The Vikings, up 17 points headed into the quarter, held the ball much of the period. Whitman scored only five points themselves.

"It was really ugly; the whole game," Larracuente said.

Blair fell behind early tonight and couldn't recover. The team made just two field goals in the first quarter, trailing Whitman (11-3) by 10. The Blazers actually rallied a bit in the second, and went into the half down just 23-15.

In the third, however, a game that was ugly on both ends became one-sided. Whitman, led by Antony Ngunjiri and Mike Gruner, outscored Blair by 11 in the quarter to put the game out of reach.

Larracuente attributed the game's result to poor shooting by his players, as well as a roster that has been through tumult the last week. "We really struggled to execute. We just didn't play well. And it's also because we had a lot of kids come up from [junior varsity] before this game."

The JV call-ups were necessitated after Ross Williams and John Orr quit the team for what Larracuente called "personal reasons." An unnamed parent of a former player on the team said essentially that the two were fed up with Larracuente's coaching style and for being benched by him.

And actually, the JV call-ups played well, considering Blair had only 22 points. Quentin Snively, in his first varsity game, led Blair with five points. Within the first two minutes on the court, he had drilled a three-pointer, and made an exciting no-look pass that excited the crowd.

In addition to Snively and Roberson, Blair got four points from Larry Johnson and three from Jacob Wade and Tori Patton. Patton also had nine rebounds.

Nevertheless, when the leading scorer has five points, it's not a good night. But Charles gave the 19th-ranked Vikings credit for shutting Blair down. "They played together. They moved the ball well; they stole the ball from us a lot."

Charles stopped short of saying the Blazers were out-coached, instead deflecting the blame on Blair's players. "We don't have guys who can play basketball. Our kids can't focus on the court at all."

"I just can't figure out why," Charles said, "that these smaller teams like Whitman keep beating us."

Kind of surprisingly, Roberson was not upset about being called out by the coaching staff, and actually agreed with Charles. "He's right, we're not playing well," Roberson said.

Roberson added: "These losses are our fault. We're the ones who keep screwing up."

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  • ... on February 2, 2006 at 5:28 PM
    not a very encouraging article but good nonetheless, propz to blair bball for trying and gluck in the future
  • blazer fan on February 2, 2006 at 5:54 PM
    This years basketball team is as terrible as last years. Charles stopped short of saying the Blazers were out-coached, instead deflecting the blame on Blair's players. "We don't have guys who can play basketball. Our kids can't focus on the court at all."

    "I just can't figure out why," Charles said, "that these smaller teams like Whitman keep beating us." NOW thats pretty messed up.
  • wtf, m8 (View Email) on February 2, 2006 at 7:40 PM
    "..made an exciting no-look pass that excited the crowd."

    terrible sentence.

    keep trying, blair. Good luck next game
  • former baller on February 2, 2006 at 11:07 PM
    The program is dead. If you have players leaving the team one after the next, then you have a problem. Then, we you blame losses on the kids when the coaches are really the ones giving up. Larracuente has completely diminished blairs chances of making a good seed in the playoffs. They are on the same pace as last year in terms of wins and losses. Larracuente has 7 wins out of 33 games in his career at blair. He should be fired.
  • blazer 06 on February 3, 2006 at 10:33 AM
    Even though what Charles said is somewhat true, it is very harsh. How can you expect your team to win if you have no confidence in them? Yelling at them and telling them that they are no good will not make them play any better.
  • 06er on February 4, 2006 at 1:10 PM
    I think what charles is saying is that blair doesn't have the same caliber players that schools like springbrook and magruder have. I 've watched them play all year and they play with very little heart. players are selfish, and don't move to make things happen on offense. compare blair's offense to any other team in the county. the only player who ever moves more than five feet is the one guy running the baseline, and even he is in the wrong place most of the time. whitman moved their guys around and set picks down low to open up their big men. that is how we get beat by the smaller teams.
  • Hey!! on February 4, 2006 at 8:37 PM
    Hey Cheer up at least the football team is doing good! One game shy of the playoffs?
  • former Blazer on February 8, 2006 at 6:54 PM
    I think its the coach's fault I know that good players left last year and players left this year and thats because of the coach it had nothing to do with grades.
  • bojangles on February 10, 2006 at 5:03 PM
    i think that you gotta split the blame 50-50 with the jv boys' team.It's not all Charle's fault. Remember, it's only his first year coaching. Also the boys don't play team ball. They don't care that they win or lose. as long as they're on the team then they're happy.even though some don't get no playn time
  • ACTUAL BLAZER on February 12, 2006 at 4:14 PM
  • STILL A BLAZER on February 12, 2006 at 4:21 PM
    actually ross quit entirely of his own free will due to a situation he caused at the walter johnson game, and so did john the losses have nothing to do with the coaches .It's us the players we dont listen and hold back are TRUE TALENT.
  • Ron McClain (View Email) on February 23, 2006 at 1:27 PM
    In response to Mike Bushnell's article about the Whitman game on February 2nd--why is anyone worried about the lack of fourth quarter scoring against Whitman last week? Our JV lost to Whitman's on the previous Monday, and all that happened during the fourth quarter Tuesday was that their ranked varsity squad beat our JV for a second time. Our JV guys did a great job hustling. Some day a couple of them will be ready for this level of competition. And why blame anything on the rest of the varsity. They didn't decide to sit Larry, Petros, and Jacob, guys who've proved they can compete with the best in 4A a number of times this season, so that the JV could play the second half.
    We have guys who can play basketball and we have guys who can focus on the court. We had more of them a few weeks ago. Watch a tape of the Whitman game or the Churchill game last night. Our players are doing the best they can with what they've been given. They work hard and most of the time they compete hard. They don't need to be blamed by anyone, including themselves, for what's going on.
    I'm sorry to see the JV dismantled for the second year in a row. A strong JV can be the precursor of a successful varsity. The last two years, two talented JV teams have ended up with losing records because of the need to seemingly patch up the varsity at some point, although the patching never quite works. We'd all be more optimistic about the future of Blair basketball if we'd had JV teams that had finished 13-5 and 12-6, reasonable expectations for both those teams. And at 4-17 and 3-13 the varsity clearly hasn't been helped by all the player transition.
  • JV point guard on August 28, 2006 at 3:11 PM
    it was not charles fault we lose the game we were not out coach!!!!!!!!
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