JAN. 21, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMASIUM-
Blair played scrappy defense and a solid game overall to keep up with the Damascus Hornets (8-2) for most of the night; but as the clock wound down, Blair's inability to convert held them back from their second win. The game heated up in the second half, turning into a closely fought, back-and-forth contest, but too many missed opportunities kept the Blazers (1-10) from overcoming the heavily-favored Hornets, who walked out of Blair 57-53 winners.
The Blazers - especially senior point guard Makonnen Brown, who had a stellar passing night - showed improvement in keeping turnovers to a minimum tonight and played a terrific transition game. Sophomores Jaydee Encarnacion and Ross Williams led Blair's outside scoring, with four treys between them in the second half. The Blazers, Williams especially, shot uncharacteristically well from long range but missed mid-range jumpers and textbook lay-ups in the first half kept Blair from ever fully taking control.
Baskets were hard to come by for entire contest. Blair kept Damascus out of the paint for most of the first half, but the Hornets were able to keep in the game with their superior three-point shooting. While Damascus certainly played capable defense, the Blazers did most of the work for them, missing fifteen-footers and drives that looked like givens. Senior Kenan Myers was the only one able to take it to the hole in the first half and even he was effectively silenced after the first quarter. Junior Jacob Wade made a big showing down low in the second half, he played physical and would consistently take the dish from Brown and bust his way in for two, despite a height disadvantage against the Damascus post players.
The Blazers entered the second half only a point down, 23-22, and, in a table-turning series of plays, took advantage of Damascus mistakes to get themselves up by three by the end of the third, 37-34. Brown led the assault, working furiously to get it inside to Wade or in the corners for Encarnacion. Williams led the Blazers' defensive stand at the other end, playing tight coverage and making gutsy grabs all night. The Blazers also showed a significant improvement in their foul shooting. It had become an all too common sight to see Blair player blank on both freebies, but happened only once or twice against the Hornets. Unfortunately the Blazers got the wind taken out of their sails at the end of the quarter as Damascus hit an impossible half-court three at the buzzer, grabbing the momentum going into the final period.
The Hornets came roaring back in the fourth, picking off several of Brown's passes and converting them on the other end. Wade and Williams kept up their scoring for much of the quarter, but the Blazers as a team could not grab the second-chance points they so desperately needed. Damascus shaped up their play and shot well from the line to regain the lead. Oddly, Brown did not make an appearance until the final minute, promptly sinking a three as he walked on to the court. His presence may have been the edge the Blazers needed in the fourth; they had to consistently battle for points. Blair's hard-pressing defense could not contain the Hornets and they grabbed a few more points in the final seconds to win 57-53.
The Blazers showed definite signs of improvement tonight, especially on defense, and if they can shoot with more precision they will certainly be more of a threat to the conference powers. They'll need all of that in their next game on Tuesday, Jan. 25 at Magruder at 7 p.m.
Dan Greene. Dan, alright fine, VJ, is proud to be a senior at Blair and a member of the best paper. Ever. He's really funny, trust him. As managing sports editor and ombudsman he enjoys sports and ombudsing. Dan also enjoys literature, soccer and crude humor. One … More »