Blazers defend home court, get big win
JAN. 9, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMANISUM -
Two weeks of road games will make any team appreciate their home floor, and Blair's girls' basketball team is no exception. Playing in their first home contest since Dec. 22, 2005, the Blazers looked comfortable and confident in a solid 48-43 win over the Magurder Colonels. It was a momentum-changing victory for a Blair squad that halted a three-game losing streak and improved their record to 4-6 on the season.
The Blazers wasted no time grabbing the lead. A 9-0 run over the last 3:14 of the first quarter gave Blair a 17-9 advantage they would never relinquish. Freshmen point guard Jenny Williams came out firing and turned in a sensational eight-point opening quarter performance to lead the Blazer attack. The young starter, who finished with 11 points, couldn't miss from the floor early and quickly drew the attention of Magruder's perimeter defenders. It was a particularly notable effort because of the absence of leading scorer and senior co-captain Cate Rassman, who had to sit much of the first half with foul trouble.
Midway through the second quarter Rassman returned and led Blair to a ten-point halftime lead at 31-21. Her seven points in the second quarter helped to stave off a short-lived Magruder bid to reclaim the lead. The Colonels got within four at 17-13 with 6:55 left in the second, but would get no closer as Blair began to build a comfortable advantage.
The Blazers' confidence seemed to grow as the second-half began. Blair built a 17-point cushion with an 8-1 spurt at the beginning of the third period. Although Magruder whittled the lead down to 11 by the end of the period, it seemed the Blazers had an answer for every Colonel advance. Contributions from senior guard Janay Walker (6 points), starting in her first game, and junior forward Ebony Winfield (6 points), helped supplement Rassman's team-high 16 points and prevent Magruder from establishing any momentum.
After three quarters of dominant, confident basketball, however, the Blazers seemed reluctant to close the deal in the fourth quarter. The Blazers had one field goal all quarter, and a total of four points. And although their offense was successful at keeping possession, their incredibly inept shot selection nearly outweighed the advantages of a slow-down attack.
However, Blair's defense, which was stingy all game, allowed Magruder only 10 points and was able to preserve the cushion built in the early-going. The defensive intensity down the stretch was remarkable for a Blair team with a shallow bench. The Blazers rotated in only seven players, but the squad looked fresh and aggressive in their lock-down fourth quarter defense.
Head Coach James Mogge agreed it was a spectacular effort. "Our defense was really good tonight. Ebony Winfield makes a big difference on the inside."
Winfield was instrumental in keeping Magruder out of the lane and forcing ill-advised perimeter shots. Although her aggressive defensive style has oftentimes led her into foul trouble this year, tonight she maintained her presence without picking up fouls.
Senior co-captain Sara Pierce also contributed to Blair's tough interior defense, and added five points from off of the bench.
The post presence boasted by the Blazers was particularly evident in their rebounding. Mogge said that the team, independent of him, decided to concentrate on their rebounding in tonight's contest, and the extra effort manifested itself in multiple chances at the offensive end.
Aside from the four quarter meltdown, Blair's offense was at least competent. The shooting was far from spectacular, but the Blazers had an answer for every Colonel bucket and they looked fairly comfortable in their half court offense.
Mogge was pleased with the offense for the most part, but conceded that the fourth-quarter output was a cause for concern. "We need to get to the point where we can hold the ball and still get a good shot," said Mogge, "We got a little tight."
Still, for a sliding Blair squad, it was a quality win over a quality opponent. Magruder came into the contest at 5-3 and beating a better-than-average team is something the Blazers hope to build upon.
"This could be something that heads us in the right direction," Mogge remarked.
Blair's next home game will be Friday Jan. 13 at 7:00 against Walter Johnson.
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 »