Despite Blair's massive late-game comeback, Springbrook scrapes out a win
JAN. 4, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM—
The Springbrook Blue Devils came in ready to dominate tonight and for the first half they did not meet much resistance, but a reinvigorated Blair squad stormed back in the second with their best half of basketball this year. The Blazers (1-6) were on fire with 15 unanswered points and kept the Blue Devils from scoring a single field goal in the fourth quarter but were unable to convert in the final seconds and fell 47-51 to their regional-powerhouse opponents.
The second half was a marked change from the first—and indeed from the majority of Blair's season thus far—with the Blazers communicating well, making smart passes, utilizing their speed on both ends and outworking the Blue Devils on offense to get easy baskets. "We started sharing the ball, we were playing to win,” said coach Orlando Larracuente of the team's improved effort.
Springbrook used their noticeable size advantage—especially with big men Sheridan Price and David Brewster—and precision shooting from beyond the arc to keep the lead comfortably in hand for the first half. Blair's mistake-ridden play looked like it was about to shoot the team in the foot for another game; turnovers came fast and often, especially under pressure from Springbrook's hard-pressing defense. Blair was not even able to make the simplest lay-ups and ended the first quarter with a mere six points.
Play in the second quarter improved slightly, with senior leaders Makonnen Brown and Kenan Myers both working hard to get Blair back into the game, but they were still handily outplayed and ended the half down 29-17.
Swingman Myers, a top performer all year so far, continued working for second chance baskets as the Blazers came back on the floor, but the real difference maker for Blair was senior shooting guard Brandon Curry. Larracuente had high hopes for Curry at the beginning of the season, but this was the first time he had a real impact on the game, noticeably shifting the momentum to the Blazers with his smart passes and quick off-the-ball movement. Curry led Blair's charge by example as they racked up points in the third.
The Blazers were on fire as the quarter wrapped up, ending up with 22 points, more than their first half total. Myers and Curry kept working together on offense to scrape ever closer to the Blue Devils and the Blazers finally got their act together on defense and stifled any attempt from Springbrook to steal their thunder. Sophomore Marquis Tyler made a gutsy steal to get the ball to Myers for the shot that brought the Blazers within two, 39-41 as the quarter ended.
The sterling play continued on both ends in the opening of the fourth. Myers and sophomore Rich Chavez, fresh from JV, controlled the boards on defense; Myers' got two particularly brutal Springbrook rejections that brought the crowd to their feet. Tyler tied it up at 41 and then Myers got the go-ahead points with four minutes remaining and with Blair having scored 15 unanswered points.
The game was within reach, and defensive scrambling kept Springbrook from getting a real chance to come back, but Blair could not put the final nail in the coffin. The Blazers were not able to sink threes all night, even the usually dependable Tyler, and failed to take lead as they botched a handful of treys in the closing two minutes. Springbrook was up 48-47 with 30 seconds left but Myers and sophomore Ross Williams struggled to find the net under heavy defensive pressure and could not get the last few points they needed. The Blue Devils stayed alive with points at the free throw line, and, unfortunately for the Blazers, converted on nearly every attempt, including those from Blair's desperation fouls in the final seconds. Even without a field goal in the final period, Springbrook managed to slip away with a win 51-47.
Larracuente said he was heartened by the team's effort—especially Curry's—and that the team played perfectly to their strengths and fought admirably. The Blue Devils may have slipped away, but if the Blazers can keep up the kind of hard-driving, quick-passing, ferocious basketball they played tonight, then the New Year should hold some pleasant rewards. The Blazers' next game is on Monday, Jan. 10 at Blake at 7:15 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 »