Girls' blaze is growing but could be hotter

March 4, 2003, midnight | By Zach Mellman | 20 years, 9 months ago

Throughout much of the '80s and '90s, the girl's basketball team had only experienced winning records. Unfortunately, they suffered a 1-22 record in the 1999-2000 season, followed by a 3-20 record the next year and a 9-14 season last year. Although tripling their number of wins again was out of the picture, for the third straight year the lady Blazers upgraded their record, finishing 10-12 in 2003-2004.

After a disappointing 0-4 start to the season, the team pulled together for perhaps its biggest win of the season, a 59-27 victory over Blake on Dec 27. This propelled it to wins in four out of its next six games, including two key wins against Gaithersburg on Dec 28 and Jan 10.

Their most dominating games, in terms of points, came toward the end of the year. Blair gave Wheaton a Valentine's Day trouncing, 57-20, and didn't lose a step during the "snow break," dominating Kennedy 61-22 during its next game, at home on Feb 24.

Blair fell 56-49 against a daunting 16-6 Springbrook squad in the first round of the 4A West Region playoffs on March 1. The Blazers were dominated early in the game as Blair was behind 12-3 at the end of the first quarter, a deficit which was extended to a 20-5 in the second quarter. The Devils forced turnovers when Blair could not beat their full court press, and stifled the Blazers with pressuring defense.

With key reserves stepping it up late in the game, like junior power forward Caroline Kuttner who scored eight points and grabbed eight boards, Blair regrouped and took its first lead of the game with 3:00 remaining. Unfortunately, several key plays by Springbrook junior Jada Richardson, who had a game high 21 points, ensured a Blazer defeat.

Senior center Allyson Swailes, one of the most dominating inside forces in Montgomery County, leads the team with 10.7 points per game (ppg). She netted a team high 16 points, 11 coming in the second half, to go along with game highs with 13 rebounds and five steals, but was forced to sit out the final few minutes of the game because of a shoulder injury. Swailes, truly a "Springbrook Slayer," averaged 18 points and 13 rebounds in the three games against the Blue Devils.

Sophomore guard Brittany Higgins, who scored 14 points, also made key contributions. Senior guard Jennifer Sindall, who averages 9.5 ppg, was tied for first in Montgomery County with 40 three-pointers before the game, but was unable to muster a three-pointer against the Blue Devils. She finished with two points. Junior center Emily Ramsay is third on the team with 9.0 ppg, but was held to four points and three rebounds.

Coach William Lindsey believes that the performance against the Blue Devils on March 1 was symbolic of the season itself. "Almost typical of the Springbrook game, at the end of the season we demonstrated the capabilities that we had. As we were going down the stretch, we pulled ourselves together," he said.

Although all ten Blazer victories came against teams with losing records, most losses were close. In fact, six of their twelve losses were by deficits of seven points or fewer, including two overtime losses, at home against Whitman 66-63 on Jan 4, and at Bethesda-Chevy Chase 57-54 on Jan 15, all three games against Springbrook. Although they ended two games under .500, Blair still outscored its opponents by an average of 4.2 ppg.

With key players including Ramsay, Kuttner, Higgins and junior Kidesh Brown returning to join incoming players on the 15-2 JV team, Lindsey believes that Blair will be a formidable contender in 2003-2004. "I perceive us as being one of the frontrunners in the county next year," he said.

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Zach Mellman. Zach Mellman was born on October 18, 1956 (he was held back once or twice). He has lived in Takoma Park, Maryland his entire life. He is currently a senior at Blair enrolled in honors classes. He is also a member of Blair's golf team, … More »

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