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Feb. 26, 2006

Blazers KO'ed in first round of playoffs

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
FEB. 25, QUINCE ORCHARD-

Considering the Blair boys' varsity basketball team went 4-16, they couldn't have asked for a much better playoff draw than the one they got. Instead of facing a juggernaut like Springbrook or Magruder, the Blazers drew the 5-16 Quince Orchard Cougars, a team they lost to by just two points eight days earlier. While Blair drew a beatable opponent, they fell behind early and were humbled by a 24-point blowout loss that ended their season.

The 61-37 win for QO (6-16) moves the Cougars into a second round game Tuesday night against the Richard Montgomery Rockets. They were a squad vastly improved from the team Blair saw eight nights earlier, where they eked out an ugly 38-36 win over Blair. QO scored its 11th point with 3:30 left in the first quarter tonight; they scored 11 in the first half in their last game against Blair (4-17).

Turnovers again plagued Blair tonight, and they kept falling victim to QO's trap. On numerous occasions, a Blazer walked into the corner near the baseline, only to get cut off by two or three Cougars and throw the ball away. After falling behind 17-12 after one quarter, Blair began to get burned by giveaways, and fell behind 34-20 at halftime.

Petros Fentahun, who was perhaps Blair's most consistent player this year, drew his fourth foul in the opening seconds of the third quarter. Head coach Orlando Larracuente took him out of the game and put him on the bench for the rest of the night. Larracuente said he benched Fentahun because "he has been sick. He missed two days of school." Still, Fentahun was well enough to score six points in the first half.

Blair was unable to get within six points of QO the rest of the game. The Cougars didn't score a point for the first 6:30 of the third quarter, but the Blazers were able to muster only eight points themselves. Two three-pointers by Cougar star Kevin Kennedy at the end of the third strung the lead back out to 13, and Blair never made a serious run again.

Towards the end of the third, Larracuente sat down Jacob Wade, Darius Smith and Tori Patton in favor of players who had hardly played all year. Steven Hayes, Sam Francois, Che Larracuente, Onye Agu, Quentin Snively and Milton Colquehoun all combined for a total of four points.

Asked why, with the game still seemingly within reach, he would bench his starters, Larracuente said, "It's the last game of the year! We were down 20 points!" When he began his mass substitutions, however, the game was still within reach and Blair trailed by just 11 points.

Ross Williams, who was welcomed back by Larracuente after leaving the team a month ago, was a late sparkplug for Blair. He hit two three pointers midway through the fourth that cut the QO lead to just nine with 3:57 left in the game. But Blair could not get the defensive stops they needed, and sealed the win at the foul line.

Wade, playing in his final game at Blair, played with heart and hustle the entire game, scoring 14 points. Williams and Fentahun scored six, while Larry Johnson and Tori Patton had four points each.

The Cougars felt comfortable at home, showing offensive prowess that was absent in the teams' prior match up. In addition to Kennedy's 19 points, Alex Knoblach had 11 and Omar Siddiqui had 10. QO was also solid from the foul line, shooting 17 for 23.

For Blair, the season ended on a down note, but Larracuente has said after previous games that the team's future is bright. "There's more to it than just basketball," he said. "We're establishing things in this program. We've just got to get back on the horse and keep working towards next season."



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  • consistently bad on February 27, 2006 at 8:50 AM
    Bushnell -- well written article, with many valid points and good game development. From a writer standpoint this was a great article.

    What is sad about this article is the picture it paints for the future of Blair basketball. Nepotism in sports should stop in little league and has no place in high school sports. It seems hard to support the playing of the coach's son in the last two games, when the offensive output was nonexistent. Further, game management, clock awareness and in the end, the final record all seem to suggest that if, as coach Larracuente said, "We've just got to get back on the horse and keep working towards next season," next season will be similar to this one, pathetic. Changes need to be made, wither in the players, the effort of those players or in the coaching style.
  • what???? on February 27, 2006 at 12:40 PM
    How can you allow a player, who quit the team in the middle of a game, come back for the playoffs? What kind of message is being sent to the other players? they will be thinking "I can do what I want, if I don't like what is happening, I can just quit now and come back later". And yet he plays. that's NOT a program.
  • the truth on February 27, 2006 at 3:10 PM
    i would like to see a totally new system at blair...rite now our basketball is terrible, and sorry but it aint gettin better. there is too much conflict between playas and coach...and its gettin ridiculous with the way the games are managed. i hope for our school's sake a big change is made
  • bojangles on February 27, 2006 at 8:22 PM
    now i could just write about how much the team sucks and the players doing whatever and the coaches doing whatever but instead i want to talk about next year and the future for blair basketball. They went 4-16, got creamed in the playoffs, everyones dissapointed, blah blah blah. I'm not exactly sure what the problem is but everyone has 2 spread the blame a little.From the players to the coaches to the fans.I'm sorry 2 say this but the bball team is getting little support from anyone.Instead of just pointing out all the obvious negatives ppl should try to focus on the positives.Maybe if we all were a lil more supportive, the team would have a lil more confidence.Maybe if we believed in them a lil more they would start believing in themselves.Anyways, i hope next year will be better.When you're atthe bottom theres nowhere 2 go, but up.
  • character on February 27, 2006 at 8:44 PM
    happy birthday francois
  • You have no idea on February 27, 2006 at 8:45 PM
    Man you guys dont know half of whats goin on in the program!! You guys think u know it all because of what u hear, but really all u know is what certain people want u to know. You cant always believe all the articles and gossip. If people looked at things from a more broad, positive, realistic p.o.v then they might BEGIN to understand whats going on here.
  • way to go coach on February 27, 2006 at 9:10 PM
    take out your most dedicated players for immature playerse. but hey, you were down 20 points, you da man.
  • Nick Hedrick (View Email) on February 27, 2006 at 11:28 PM
    A program is more than a coach, more than the players. A SUCCESSFUL high school program consists of support from the student body, staff, etc. working along with consistent coaching and player improvement. Look at the good teams in the county; Magruder, Spingbrook, Whitman, all receive great support to go along with having good players. Those kids love to play at those schools because when they step into the gym they are playing in front of 500+ of their peers, community members, etc...
    Stop pointing fingers, this thing will never get turned around if the program (student body, players (jv and v), coaches, faculty, etc.) do not rally around eachother. I'm not saying the poor season the team had falls entirely on the shoulders of those who did not support them, however, I'm sure the coaches and players would be the first to tell you they have things to work on, but you know what, so does everyone else... IF they want Blair to be a succesful program again.
  • nothing N North Carolina (View Email) on February 28, 2006 at 10:36 AM
    I Miss Blair So Much...College Life Suckz! Im Glad 2 See The Team Is Doing Well... Welcome Back Welcome Back Welcome Back ROSS!
  • NEWS on February 28, 2006 at 3:51 PM
    LARRACUENTE GOT FIRED!
  • concerned adult (View Email) on March 1, 2006 at 9:32 AM
    I attended many games this year and last. I found the program to be lacking in true leadership.It just seems that the program is in place to glorify the coach's ego. There seems to be no attempt to build a BLAIR team. I hope all involved can see that the program needs to be in place for the kids, not the adults. The coaching staff should be embarrassed, not defensive. Losses are losses but the vibe of the team is one of negativity and if it stays that way we can expect this coaches' tenure to be one of loss and disappointment. Tone is set by the coach and students follow his lead.
  • blaze on March 1, 2006 at 10:25 AM
    how about a new coach?? i mean come on now. nuff said
  • fghghg (View Email) on March 1, 2006 at 2:03 PM
    coaching staff should be embarrassed, not defensive found the program to be lacking in true leadership.It just seems that the program is in place to glorify the coach's ego. There seems to be no attempt to build a BLAIR team. I hope all involved can see that the program needs to be in place for the kids, not the adults. The coaching staff should be embarrassed, not defensive. Losses are losses but the vibe of the team is one of negativity and if it stays that way we can expect this coaches' tenure to be one of loss and disappointment. Tone is set by the coach and students follow his lead.
  • david on March 2, 2006 at 7:32 PM
    This is a sad sad day for blair atheletics. what once was a storied program, is now the laughing stock of montgomery county. fortunatly there is good new....i just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance
  • ? (View Email) on March 5, 2006 at 12:19 PM
    It'S not the coaches fault its the playrs fault larracuente was a good coach and if you have parents that are only in the intrest of their son not the program and wright letters and false e-males to everyone the coach is bound to get fired. the players want him back so bring him back no need for a new coach thats just going to disrupt the program.
  • Tinsae Tolessa on June 2, 2006 at 10:15 AM
    awwawrawrrtaytdyawyawttaywetyauwet#$%

    I thnk I shold be on the team so I could be good
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