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Jan. 16, 2009

Boys' basketball fails to break Warriors' defense

by Greg Kohn, Online Sports Editor
NELSON H. KOBREN GYMNASIUM, Jan. 13

It was in no sense an offensive showdown Tuesday night, as the visiting Sherwood Warriors and Blair's varsity boys' basketball team combined for just 65 points, barely topping the Blazers' 63-point outing at Northwood in late December. Blair (4-7) bore the worst of the shooting troubles however, and the Warriors (4-6) grabbed their third straight road win of the season in a sloppy 41-24 triumph.

Blair failed to develop any offensive rhythm all game, stemming from a troublesome first quarter in which they scored on only two possessions. The Blazers' woes continued in the second quarter as they sunk just one basket coming in the final minute en route to a 20-7 halftime deficit. The hosts outscored Sherwood in the third quarter, but frequent scoring droughts prevented any comeback.

Head coach Mark DeStefano cited Blair's difficulty in finishing as the cause for the loss. "We had positive efforts from a lot of our players, but not always the intended positive results," DeStefano said following the game. "We played great defense giving up 41 points usually amounts to a very winnable game." Unfortunately, the stagnant Blazer offense could not take advantage.

Even without posting an insurmountable amount of points, Sherwood was able to maintain a comfortable lead by dominating on the offensive and defensive glass. The Warriors collected 43 rebounds, 19 of which were offensive, while Blair gathered just 17 boards overall. "When you're not finishing, you got to make it up on the other end of the floor," DeStefano said. "We busted our tail on defense to force difficult shots, but we didn't reward ourselves by grabbing rebounds."

Senior co-captains Wayne Henderson and Leon Sampson led Blair in scoring, finishing with seven points apiece. Henderson, who is usually deadly from the perimeter, was frustrated in being unable to find his shot. "Things that we never let affect us did just that tonight," Henderson explained.

After trailing 20-7 at half, Blair doubled their first-half points in the first four minutes of the third quarter. Junior guard Cooper Neimand sank a three-pointer, followed by a fast break finish from senior co-captain and forward Mike McClain to bring Blair within ten points. Sampson and Henderson also contributed, but the Blazers were only able to narrow the deficit to 27-16 by the end of the quarter.

With eight minutes to catch Sherwood, Blair hit an unfortunate scoring drought at the worst time. The Blazers were blanked for the first three minutes of the quarter, but managed eight points headed by Henderson's lone three to close out the game. The Warriors, on the other hand, were hot from the field and extended their lead to 18 points before claiming a 41-24 victory.

DeStefano felt that Blair's mental game was off for the entire night. "We were out-muscled most of the time, and out-spirited the whole time," he said. "If we hang our heads after a missed shot, that's just going to punish ourselves."

Blair's next home game is against Springbrook on Friday, Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. Editor's note: Mark DeStefano is an adviser for Silver Chips Online



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