Boys' basketball fails to compete with state champs Magruder

Dec. 15, 2001, midnight | By Ben Penn | 22 years, 6 months ago

Blazers lose 60-46 in first game under new head coach Jeff Newby


Before the first quarter of the season's first game had ended, Blair's star point guard Cyril Djoukeng, a senior, was sitting on the bench with three fouls. For the rest of the game, the Blazers ran a sloppy, impatient offense and failed to effectively move their feet on defense.

The defending state champion Magruder High School, currently ranked 12th in the area by the Washington Post, expectedly took advantage of Blair's flaws and won at home, 60-46.

The Blazers looked frustrated on offense, incapable of running plays and moving the ball. So nearly every Blazer tried to solve the problem on his own by settling on the first available shot, or by attempting to take his man off the dribble.

While Blair still managed to keep the game close, trailing 28-24 at halftime, in the second half, the unorganized offense resulted in even more Blazer turnovers and ugly shots. The Colonels repeatedly turned Blair's errors into points of their own and they maintained a double-digit lead for the majority of the half. The win was Magruder's 28th in a row, carrying over to its 27-0 record last year.

Senior forward Pele Paelay and senior point guard Will Talesnick, who both played major roles in Magruder's state championship titles in basketball last year and soccer this year, scored 22 and 13 points respectively.

Blair's first-year head coach Jeff Newby, who spent the past three years as Blair's JV coach, assembled an atypical starting lineup composed of five guards, four of which are capable of running the point. However, surprisingly, the Colonels' size advantage did not play a big part in their win. In fact, Blair held a 34-21 team rebounding edge.

Magruder's Paelay (22 points), who has already accepted a basketball scholarship from Coastal Carolina University, and shooting guard Henryk Palmer (19 points), contained far too much quickness for the Blair defense to handle.

Blair's senior shooting guard Ellis Yeadon played a game he hopes to forget. In addition to being Blair's leading returning scorer from last year's 15-9 squad, Yeadon is characterized by the ferocious tenacity he usually displays on defense. But Palmer, who Yeadon guarded, had the quicker first step time after time, allowing Yeadon (four points) only to stare bewilderedly from behind.

One of the few sparks of the night came from first-year varsity player Alonzo Woods, a junior guard who came off the bench and scored 16 points for the Blazers, including several acrobatic baskets. Junior swingman Hunter Butler added 12 points and was the only other Blazer to reach double figures in scoring.

Blair will look for a fresh start on Tuesday, Dec 11, when they travel to Paint Branch High School for what should be another tough match. Paint Branch lost once all of last season. If the Blazers want to compete in this game, the heralded Djoukeng-Yeadon combo will need to provide more than the combined eight points they had against Magruder.

The Colonels were playing without their star shooting guard Isiah Swann, a sophomore. Swann, who is already being recruited by many major Division I college basketball programs, is academically ineligible, but could return in February.

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Ben Penn. Ben Penn, a senior in the Communication Arts Program, is thrilled to be taking on the role of managing sports editor for Silver Chips. While holding the position of page editor last year, Ben is proud to say that he was the only person on … More »

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