Boys' basketball unable to hand Blake first loss

Jan. 8, 2009, midnight | By Jeremy Gradwohl | 11 years, 9 months ago

Second-half loss is sixth straight for Blair


Blair's boys' varsity basketball team (3-6) could not hold onto a first half lead against the undefeated Blake Bengals (10-0) Wednesday night, falling 49-40 and extending their losing streak to six games. Although the Blazers dominated the first half and held a 23-21 halftime lead, their defense fell short and their offense stagnant during the second half.

Head coach Mark DeStefano focused on the drop in play in the third quarter, which for most of the season has been Blair's most productive eight minutes. "We played well in the first half, but extremely poorly in the third quarter," DeStefano said.

Senior co-captain and center Leon Sampson shared his coach's thoughts. "We had the win in front of us but we let it slip away," Sampson said. "We turned the ball over too many times." Senior co-captain and guard Wayne Henderson led the team in scoring with 18 points, followed by Sampson with 10, and senior co-captain and forward Mike McClain with 8.

The Blazers started out the game hot, scoring six straight unanswered points. Blair's defense contained Blake during the first quarter, not allowing any field goals for a dominant 10-3 first-quarter advantage. "[Our defense] was nothing fancy, nothing special," DeStefano said. "We just played outstanding defense in the first quarter."

The Bengals found their shot in the second quarter, going on a 9-2 run to even the score at 12-12 with three minutes left in the half. A minute later, Blake held a precarious 18-14 lead when Henderson sank three straight three-pointers. Blair ended the first half ahead, 23-21.

The Blazers quickly gave up their lead during the second half, falling behind 26-24 within the first three minutes. DeStefano attributed Blair's third quarter deficit to poor defense. "Everything that we did right in the first quarter we abandoned in the third," DeStefano explained. Blake ran away with the lead, limiting the Blazers to just two points in the quarter for a 33-25 advantage.

Blake maintained a nine-point lead for the rest of the game. Blair committed fourteen fouls during the half; the resulting free throws accounted for a large part of Blake's second half point total. The Blazers attempted to rally back late during the fourth quarter, but senior co-captain Mike McClain's lay-up with thirty seconds left was Blair's last bucket, giving the Bengals the win, 49-40.

DeStefano says his team needs to work on administering techniques learned in practice to games. "We had a great practice before this game," DeStefano recalled. "We just need to work on transferring skills from practice to actual games."

The Blazers' next home game is against Sherwood on Tuesday, Jan. 13 at 5:15 p.m.

Jeremy Gradwohl. Jeremy is a good, upstanding citizen. He likes the city of Takoma Park, baseball, good music and the Orioles back in the day when they had Cal Ripken Jr. Nature also plays a big part in his life. More »

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