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Jan. 12, 2010

Warriors defeat girls' basketball

by Larisa Antonisse, Page Editor
NELSON H. KOBREN GYMNASIUM, January 11

Despite a hard-fought finish, the girls' varsity basketball team (4-6) was outplayed by Sherwood (6-4) for a close loss. With a slow start, the lady Blazers found themselves trailing throughout the game, finishing with a score of 47-54.

During much of the first quarter, Blair appeared disorganized on defense, leaving a Sherwood forward open three times in a row for a quick layup. At one point, Blair coach Erin Conley yelled at her team to recognize the pattern and mark the open man. Junior captain Janet Henkai said that a slow pace in the beginning, similar to this, have hindered the team in several recent games, citing their recent close defeat against Springbrook by one point in overtime as an example. Even though the Blazers usually finish with intensity, it is often not enough to overcome first-half troubles.

Many of Blair's strong points in the game came through combinations between senior Inkera Patterson and sophomore Johanna Lopez. On several occasions, Lopez picked off Sherwood passes to disrupt their play and passed to Patterson who used her blinding speed to fly by Sherwood defenders to the net. Both Conley and Henkai cited these two as standouts for their effort, despite Blair's overall disappointing play.

Although both teams were plagued with a fair amount of fouls throughout the game, Sherwood was able to capitalize on a clear majority of their free throws, while Blair was not. Conley said that giving up fouls and missing free throws is a team problem, however she does not believe that this made the difference in the game's outcome. Henkai doesn't believe that Blair's comparatively small size was a factor either. "We know that we're a guard heavy team and a majority of the time we're going to be shorter. Through the season we have learned to adapt and work around it," she said.

The first half ended with Blair down 23-33. During the third quarter the team came out visibly stronger, eventually tying the game. Blair's quick scoring to open the quarter seemed to deter Sherwood confidence, causing them to make several rare misses on free throws. Sherwood didn't score until there was 2:30 left in the quarter, when they once again took the lead. Henkai attributed this change of pace to mental, rather than physical adjustments. "We all knew we were playing bad, and once we voiced these opinions and Coach Conley talked to us it snapped into our heads that we should be killing this team," she said.

However, Blazers performance in the fourth quarter did not improve and the home team continued trailing in the score. With 1:15 to go on the clock at a score of 46-50 Sherwood, a star Sherwood player was injured, consequently delaying the game for over 20 minutes. Despite this long rest and opportunity to design a new game plan, Blair could not counteract Sherwood's offense and only managed to score one point even with numerous free throw opportunities. In the last minute, Sherwood kept possession of the ball, preventing Blair's comeback.

After the game, Conley was frustrated with her team's display. "We did not play to our potential, mainly due to a lack of effort in the first half," she said. In the future, Conley said the team needs to work on layups, free throws and defensive pressure. Henkai added that they must have greater confidence to earn success. "Team morale is down after we lost two close games in a row. We need to know we can win and use what we learned in practice to win the next games," she said.

The girls' varsity basketball team plays their next home game on Jan. 13 against Magruder High School at 5:15 p.m.



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