Blair played phenomenally on all sides of the ball, winning by 27
On Feb. 10, the Blazers earned their well-deserved regular-season sweep against the Paint Branch Panthers with a score of 78-51. Blair put on a three-point clinic alongside a barrage of mid-range jumpers, cementing their reputation as the best sharpshooting team in the county.
Both teams came out the gate with a similar determination and holes in their defense, leading to entertaining offensive performances. Blair forward Gio Moore, coming off a 16-point performance during Tuesday's game against Wootton, started the Blazers off with a wide-open three. Paint Branch responded with their own triple, sparking an electrifying back-and-forth sequence.
Blair center Yann Aubert used his towering height for a block on one side and two put-back layups on the other. Aubert’s plays allowed Blair to break free from Paint Branch and end the first quarter with a score of 23-16.
The second quarter was when Blair started pulling away from the Panthers due to Blair’s ability to turn Paint Branch’s sloppy turnovers into easy buckets.
Paint Branch started off with two turnovers in a row; both were missed passes thrown completely out of bounds. Aubert manipulated the hot hand he had at the end of the first to draw the Panther defense into the paint with him, which is when he slung the ball to the wide-open junior guard Eli Greenberger for a rainbow three.
The Panthers seemed stunned by the dominant performance coming from Blair because they allowed them to go on an extremely long scoring run. That scoring run was filled with treys from Greenberger, steals by senior captain Muller Torontow, and even more blocks by Aubert.
The only notable play of the quarter for the Panthers was a fast-break dunk, to which Moore quickly responded with a two-hand jam. The Blazers had held Paint Branch to only 13 points the entire quarter; both teams headed for the locker rooms at a score of 44-29.
Blair put the game in the bag in the third quarter. At the start, the score was 44-26 Blair. By the end, it was 64-34 Blair. Their offense was rolling, their defense was airtight, and their play style was smart and aggressive all around.
The quarter opened with solid interior defense by Blair, making stops and forcing Paint Branch turnovers when they drove into the paint. On the other end of the court, Blair was lightning-quick in transition. Blair's forwards, led by Aubert, regularly hauled in rebounds and kickstarted rapid successions of passes that led to points.
After Tuesday night's game, an unsatisfying win against Wootton, Head Coach Paul Mensah said the Blazers needed to be less selfish with the ball and pass more to limit turnovers and create shots. That's exactly what Blair did against Paint Branch. "I think we got up the floor, we were aggressive, we moved the ball. Making the extra pass, making that unselfish play carried us to the win," Mensah said.
The score margin grew larger and larger in Blair's favor, but the game fell out of Paint Branch’s hands three minutes into the third with two mammoth moments. The first one was when junior guard Eli Greenberger nailed two straight deep threes. Blair's largest crowd since the home opener erupted in cheers as the second shot splashed through the net, and Greenberger celebrated with a classy bow-and-arrow bullseye.
As the Blazer fans were settling back into their seats after the pinnacle of Greenberger's shooting clinic, senior forward Gio Moore grabbed a rebound off a Paint Branch miss, sprinted coast-to-coast down the court, and jammed home a monster one-handed dunk. Before Paint Branch could settle into the next possession, Moore immediately followed this up with another identical dunk, sending the Blazer faithful bananas.
Hoping to stop the bleeding, Paint Branch called a time out. This gave the Blazers and their fans a minute and a half to soak in their biggest plays of the game. Fortunately, this timeout didn't stem the flow of Blair buckets. The quarter ended with the score 64-34 Blair.
Coach Mensah subbed in Blair's bench players for most of the fourth quarter. They largely maintained Blair's 30-point lead. Junior guard Louis Moon, sophomore guard Logan Stillerman, senior guard Chase Williams, and senior forward Yacquub Nur contributed on the scoreboard and on defense.
The gym grew louder and louder as the seconds ticked off the clock in the final minute of the fourth. As it struck zero, the horn echoed around the court and the victorious Blazers strolled to the locker room with a spring in their step.
Coach Mensah was very pleased with Blair's all-around performance. He says he saw Blair make the changes he preached after Tuesday night's game. "You saw the ball movement. You see it reflected in the score. That was a better team we played tonight [than last game against Wootton], and we put up 78 on them, and honestly, we could have put up close to 100 if we didn't slow it down [at the end of the game]. So that's Blair Basketball."
Blair's next home game is Friday, Feb. 11) at 5:30 p.m against Whitman. It will also be senior night.
Sachin Parikh. Hello! My name is Sachin and I'm a senior in the CAP program. I'm currently co-EiC along with Isabelle Yang. My favorite SCO project so far has been covering the boys' basketball beat all the way through their regional championship my sophomore year. When I'm … More »
Samuale Asefa. Hello! My name is Sam and I'm a writer for SCO. I am a self-proclaimed movie buff and love listening to all types of music. More »