Backcourt duo Ellis Yeadon and Cyril Djoukeng combine for 34 points
The boys' basketball team added yet another chapter to the best rivalry in Silver Spring sports by soundly beating Springbrook High School 63-51. The win improved Blair's record to 2-1 overall and 2-0 in division play in the first season under Coach Jeff Newby.
Blair's proficiency was apparent from the start as its excellent fundamentals shone through. Despite being the smaller team, the Blazers were able to compete with the Blue Devils on the boards due to their superior boxing-out skills. "We rebound well for a small team," said senior point guard Cyril Djoukeng.
Djoukeng attributed this to Newby's practices, which emphasize solid rebounding fundamentals. Blair held a 28-19 rebounding edge over the bigger Springbrook team. Senior small forward Javier Remos grabbed a team-high of ten rebounds.
Another key factor in the match-up of devil versus devil was Blair's outstanding team quickness. The Blazers were able to play very aggressive varieties of defense throughout the game. Newby employed a 1-3-1 zone press that limited the effectiveness of the Blue Devils' star duo of seniors Marcus Taylor and Justin Riggs. Riggs was held to just 3 points the entire game.
Newby credited the win to Blair's defense. "Defensive intensity did it," he said. "The intensity was great for four quarters."
Senior forward Jaron Aikens echoed Newby's sentiment. "We ran the floor well and played great defense," he said.
Blair's excellent backcourt of Djoukeng and senior Ellis Yeadon dominated Springbrook all game long. Djoukeng had 16 points and Yeadon had 18, which accounted for over half of Blair's total scoring output. This is the first game that both Djoukeng and Yeadon have realized their offensive potential.
Djoukeng and Yeadon put on an offensive clinic over the poor Springbrook guards, continually driving to the basket and stroking mid-range jumpers all game long. Djoukeng also added seven assists, following up his eight assist performance the previous week against Paint Branch High School.
Aikens noted that the Blazers have great "team unity and teamwork." "We're not a collection of individuals," he said.
However, Newby observed that Blair got sloppy down the stretch. "At the end of the game, we made some mistakes," he said. "We need to work on our end-game situation."
Fouls were also a concern for Blair, as they have been all year. Djoukeng, who found himself in early foul trouble that limited his effectiveness in the loss to Magruder, said that the Blazers' biggest problem was "petty fouls." "Our discipline needs to improve," he said.
This game was a far cry from the Dec 6 contest against last year's undefeated state champions, the Magruder Colonels. Blair lost 60-46 after Djoukeng and Yeadon were shut down by a combination of fouls and stifling Magruder defense.
The Blazers were unable to get anything going on offense, often times standing around and calling for the ball. Magruder, despite being outrebounded 34-21, played excellent team basketball that resulted in 60 points.
The Colonels are currently ranked number 12 in the region according to the Washington Post.
Despite the loss to Magruder, Djoukeng has high hopes for the team this season. "I don't see why we shouldn't lose more than two or three games," he said. "We should be at Cole [Field House, the site of the State Championship game.]"
Aikens, a first-year varsity player, also had optimistic goals for this year's campaign. "We're the fastest team in the county," he said. "We're going to be at Cole Field House, most definitely."
The Paint Branch game provided solid evidence that Djoukeng and Aikens know what they're talking about. By the end of the first quarter the Blazers held a 26-9 lead and had the game out of the Panthers' reach.
Newby took advantage of his team's deep bench, giving nearly everyone on the team quality minutes. Ten boys were on the court for at least ten minutes, with nobody receiving more than 17 minutes.
Jeremy Widder. More »