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Feb. 5, 2008

Buzzer beater defeats boys' basketball

by Greg Kohn, Online Sports Editor
NELSON H. KOBREN GYMNASIUM, Feb. 4

In an all too familiar fashion, the boys' varsity basketball team lost once again Monday night, this time to defending state champions Sherwood. The Blazers (2-12) took an eight point lead into the third quarter, but were undone when the visiting Warriors hit the winning jumper as time expired for a final score of 49-47.
Junior Mike McClain makes his layup despite being double teamed by two Sherwood Warriors.  The Blazers lost 49-47 on a last-second shot. Molly Brune
Junior Mike McClain makes his layup despite being double teamed by two Sherwood Warriors. The Blazers lost 49-47 on a last-second shot.

Head coach Mark DeStefano expressed his frustration after the game. "We just have not learned how to close out games," DeStefano said. "We have played the best of them and been right there, ready for the win. But we just can't put them away." Indeed, Blair has lost eight games by one or two possessions, according to DeStefano.

With 1:30 remaining in the game, Sherwood took possession. A fairly even game had brought the two teams to a deadlock, 47 apiece. Yet instead of pressing and fighting for the basketball, the Blazer defense stood back in their zone, allowing the Warriors to drain the clock for the last possession. Since high school boys' basketball has no shot clock, Sherwood let the time run down to 18.0 seconds before calling a timeout.

At the reset, Blair finally displayed some defensive pressure. A fiercely contested Sherwood shot missed the mark, but was knocked out of bounds by Blair. On the inbounds, the Warriors mustered another runner in the lane, but this attempt also rimmed wide. Junior center Leon Sampson and senior forward Issy Melton combined under the basket to send the rebound reeling. But instead of finding the hands of a Blazer, the ball went straight to a Sherwood point guard on the right wing of the key, who gathered the ball and sank the winning shot as the buzzer blared.

"The team just does not yet have the sense of urgency they need to close out games," assistant coach Cedric Boatman said.

In the first half, both teams had tremendous trouble scoring. The Blazers jumped to an early 5-0 lead while the Warriors didn't see their first basket fall until almost four minutes into the game. Afterwards, both teams traded baskets evenly, although Blair allowed for several Sherwood second offensive chances due to problems on the boards.

At the start of the second quarter, Blair held a slim 11-9 advantage. It was the home team's turn, however, to go cold. Between rushed shots and taking too long to pull the trigger, the Blazers mustered only one point with three minutes to half time. Down 18-14 with under twenty seconds, Colquehoun hit a huge three pointer to make it a one point game. Sherwood responded with a short jumper as time expired. But even after a meager six-point quarter, Blair was down a manageable 20-17.
Senior co-captain Milt Calquehoun makes a three-pointer. Molly Brune
Senior co-captain Milt Calquehoun makes a three-pointer.

Blair exploded after halftime. At first, it was all junior forward Michael McClain. He hit a fast break lay-up to regain the lead, and on Blair's following possession, dished the ball between two Warriors to Melton for another easy two points. On defense, McClain came up with a huge block and hit Colquehoun with a wide outlet pass for another basket. Colquehoun followed with a toppling three-pointer which capped the Blazers' 11-0 run and put the score at 28-20.

Sherwood came back and ended the quarter with three three-pointers, cutting the Blazer lead to 32-29. Senior captain and guard Joe Dubuche led Blair in the fourth quarter, where he scored all ten of his points. It was a back and forth match as time winded down, with three lead changes and two ties before Sherwood ended on top.

"The ending was especially disheartening because of how well we played in the third quarter," said Colquehoun, who finished with a team-high 11 points. "But there's still season yet."


The Blazers' next home game is Friday, Feb. 15 against Quince Orchard at 7 p.m.



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