Silver Chips Online

Local rival hands Blazers second straight defeat

Undefeated Springbrook outlasts boys' basketball 53-45

By Abe Schwadron, Online Managing Editor and Josh Zipin, Online Managing Sports Editor
December 20, 2006
DEC. 19, NELSON H. KOBREN GYM-

After evening their record at 1-1, the boys' basketball team has dropped two straight games, the latest to the Springbrook Blue Devils (5-0), who outlasted the Blazers (1-3) on Tuesday to come away with a 53-45 win. Sloppy play on both ends of the court plagued the Blazers, as they struggled to put together back-to-back defensive stops and successful offensive possessions.

Despite the Blazers' inability to put a run together, Blair was only one possession down with 2:30 left, trailing the Blue Devils 46-43. Those three points loomed large, though, as the Blazers proceeded to launch wild three-pointers and commit costly turnovers in crunch time, and allowing Springbrook to seal the game at the free throw line.

Coach Mark Destefano attributed the loss to Blair's inexperience and failure to execute. "Our first 30 minutes was great. But after that we forgot what got us in that position to win," he said. "We need 32 good minutes from everybody to win. It's a frustrating shame to put ourselves in position to win the game and not come out with a 'W'."

The Blazers came out firing on all cylinders and surprised Springbrook, jumping out to an early 12-2 lead. Junior Issy Melton and senior Ross Williams combined to score all of Blair's first 12 points, and each tied for the team lead in scoring with 12 for the game. Blair established an inside presence early with Melton, and DeStefano's "high pick and roll" offense looked sharp.

But after a quick Springbrook timeout, the Blue Devils clawed their way back, ending the quarter on a 12-4 run and leaving Blair ahead by just two, up 16-14 heading into the second quarter. After a Springbrook three-pointer put the Blue Devils up by one, junior Joe Dubuche gave the Blazers the lead back with a smooth baseline jumper. On Blair's next possession, senior forward Tori Patton found senior point guard Darius Smith cutting through the lane. Smith immediately tapped the ball to the corner, where Dubuche knocked down a wide-open three to give the Blazers a 21-17 lead.

The teams traded free throws before senior swingman Matt McClain hit Patton on a perfectly executed backdoor cut with less than three minutes to play in the first half, putting the Blazers on top 27-23.

With twenty seconds to play in the half, Blair decided to hold for the last shot of the half. Williams got the call on an isolation play, but he dribbled into traffic with five seconds to go. A Springbrook defender stole the ball and sent a home-run pass to a streaking Blue Devil at the other hand, who dropped a finger-roll through the net as the buzzer sounded. Although the Blazers still led by two at halftime, up 28-26, the play was a definite turning point in the game.

The Blazers' start to the second half was analogous to their play all night: great ideas, poor execution. On the opening out of bounds play, senior forward Mohammed Roberson went around two screens to set up an alley-oop. The pass was errant, and Roberson had to come down with the ball. Instead of throwing down two and getting the crowd into the game, the Blazers committed one of the team's countless turnovers on the evening. Springbrook wasted no time in tying the game, getting a layup on the ensuing possession.

The Blue Devils went on a quick run, taking the lead and pushing the tempo. With 3:29 left in the quarter, a Springbrook three-point play forced DeStefano to call timeout in an effort to revitalize his squad. Blair looked re-energized and focused coming out of the stoppage, and got two easy layups from Williams to close the quarter and keep the deficit at two, with Springbrook up 40-38.

Blair evened the game at 40 when Melton crashed the boards off a long-range miss from McClain and fought through a foul to lay the ball up and in. Springbrook forward Tory Ammons gave the Blue Devils a two-point lead with 5:30 to go when he scooped up a loose ball and knocked down a four-footer for two of his twelve points on the night. Springbrook extended their lead to six before Smith gave the Blazers hope with a spectacular, falling-out-of-bounds three-point play, closing the gap to 46-43 with 3:40 to play.

The Blazers avoided disaster when Springbrook failed to convert on two fastbreak opportunities with less than 2:30 left in the game. But Blair struggled to get to the rim, instead opting for long-range bombs in their final possessions. The Blue Devils secured enough defensive rebounds and converted enough foul shots to seal the victory for Springbrook. The Blue Devils held a decided edge in free throws, making 11 of 16. The Blazers made just six of their 10 free throw attempts.

Springbrook's C.J. Garner riddled the Blazers' defense all evening, slashing to the basket throughout the game to end up with a total of 12 points. Micah Perry and Marcus Cotton each added nine for the Blue Devils, and Othello Banaci scored seven. Blair was paced by Williams and Melton's twelve apiece, while Smith finished with nine points.

Despite the loss, DeStefano was satisfied with the way the Blazers shared the ball. "I'd much rather have balanced scoring," he said. "Unless you have one amazing player, you need to have a team effort in all areas of the game in order to win. The more balanced we are the better we'll be."

DeStefano said he is looking forward to the next game, a road contest against Blake, and that a victory on the road would be a nice rebound for a team on a short skid.

The boys' basketball team's next home game is Jan. 3 at 5:15 p.m. against Whitman.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/7072