Rassman's 27 points can't save Blazers from a heartbreaker
NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNAISUM —
With 1:22 remaining in the third quarter it looked as if Blair's girls basketball was on there way to huge, momentum-changing home victory over the Sherwood Warriors. They were sitting on a 16-point advantage and enjoying a career night from their star forward, senior co-captain Cate Rassman. Fast forward nine minutes and that elation was turned to shock, as the Blazers watched the game, and quite possibly the season, slip away courtesy of a Sherwood jump shot at the buzzer. The 49-48 loss was another crushing blow in what has become a season of disappointments for the Blazers, now 4-13 and on a seven-game losing skid.
From the onset, a determined Blair squad looked like they were prepare to dominate their opponents from Olney. The Blazers sprinted ahead to a 7-2 lead and finished the period with a 12-8 advantage, thanks in large part to eight points in the period from Rassman. Blair's offense, which was anemic in their previous loss to Whitman, looked much improved and the Blazers were getting an abundance of open looks thanks to solid play from their guards.
The second quarter started much like the first, a jump shot by senior guard Janay Walker extended the lead to 19-11 with 5:31 left in the half. However, the Warriors began to find their offensive rhythm and chip away at the lead in the latter half of the second quarter. The Blazers enjoyed a six-point advantage with one minute remaining the half, but a spurt by Sherwood to close the period seemingly erased any momentum Blair had built. A jump shot as the clock expired finished off a furious 6-0 run that tied the game at 25 and stunned a Blazer squad that had been leading throughout the half. It was Blair's inability to close-out the period that shifted the momentum and would become an ominous omen of events to come.
If Sherwood's half-ending run bothered Blair, they certainly didn't show it coming out of the locker room. After a free throw gave the Warriors there only lead of the game before the final shot, the Blazer offense exploded. A jump shot by Walker opened the offensive onslaught with 6:53 remaining, six minutes and many baskets later, a steal and fast break lay up by Walker capped off a dominating 17-0 run. The Blazers used a balanced attack to fluster the Warriors and the 42-26 advantage looked safe in the hand of confidant Blair squad.
But as the third quarter closed the Blazers again showed there inability to close the deal. A 5-0 run by Sherwood cut the lead to 11 as the third period expired, and a seemingly defeated Warrior team was now within striking distance.
Sherwood maintained their scoring streak as the fourth quarter began. A slow, but methodical 8-0 run cut the Blazer lead to 42-39 with 4:45 left in the game. A fatiguing Blair offense began to feel the onset of panic as their advantage eroded. However, Rassman again answered the challenge, scoring the team's only six points in the entire fourth quarter over the next 1:40 and pushing the Blair lead back up to eight at 48-40 with 3:04 left. Rassman was spectacular all evening, leading a depleted Blair squad with 27 points, but when she fouled out with 1:10 left and the Blazers sitting on a 44-40 advantage the game seemed to slip away. Without Rassman Blair couldn't generate the miniscule amount of offense needed to seal the victory.
With 36 seconds remaining Sherwood converted a basket with the foul to close the gap to one. Coach James Mogge quickly called a timeout to draw up a final offensive play, in hopes of running down the clock while scoring a much-needed basket. The Blazers took care of the first part, but a turnover with two seconds on the shot clock gave Sherwood the ball at their own baseline with eight seconds left. The Warriors called a timeout during which Rassman tried to rally the defense in hopes of preserving the winnowing lead.
With eight seconds remaining Sherwood in-bounded the ball and brought it up court. They passed to their primary option who was quickly swarmed by a Blazer double team. However, with about two seconds remaining the Sherwood player found a teammate who had squirted into a wide-open area at about the foul line. With a second remaining she lined up the wide open 15 footer and hit nothing but nylon as the buzzer sounded.
The Blazers stood in disbelief as the Warriors stormed the court and mobbed their savior. Somehow, in a season of bad breaks, Blair let another victory vanish in the matter of one second. The fourth quarter collapse was characteristic of a team playing shorthanded. The energy and determination that characterized the first three quarters seemed to vanish as a fatiguing Blazer team lost its grip. Blair's four-person bench seemed even shallower today with the absence of starting guard and senior co-captain Jessica Dubose who hyper extended her knee in the Monday's loss to Whitman. There is some speculation that Dubose may miss the rest of the season due to the injury.
Walker and senior co-captain Sara Pierce did their best to fill the void, scoring eight and seven points respectively, but it wasn't enough assistance for Rassman, whose attempts to carry the offense fell just short.
Blair looks desperately to salvage their season on Monday February 6 at 7:00 at Magruder.
Avi Wolfman-Arent. Avi Wolfman-Arent has been called many things: super genius, mega hunk and an all around cool guy; but through the praise he has remained down-to-earth and humble. At a muscular five feet nine inches he may seem intimidating when striding down Blair Boulevard, but when … More »