Third-quarter lapse, lack of execution doom Blazers in 58-47 loss
FEB. 5, NELSON H. KOBREN GYMNASIUM-
On Jan. 12, the Blazers defeated the Walter Johnson Wildcats by a score of 65-41. It has been three weeks, six losses and countless frustrations since the Blair boys' basketball team last salvaged a win. It was the same old story Monday night for the Blazers (3-15) against the Magruder Colonels (14-4) as the problems that have plagued them all year were present in yet another loss.
Once again, lackluster defense and an inconsistent offense eventually put the game out of the Blazers' reach. "We just couldn't execute and get anything done," said senior center Richard Chavez.
Following the trends they have established nearly all season, Blair started strong, jumping out to an early eight point advantage at 12-4. The Blazers shared the ball, leading to easy buckets, the easiest of which was a Ross Williams steal and slam for two. But the Blazers, playing without lanky defender Tori Patton (sidelined due to academic ineligibility), were only able to subdue the Colonels offense for so long. Magruder closed the first quarter on an 8-2 run, cutting Blair's lead to just 14-12.
In the second quarter, Blair again jumped out with a quick scoring spurt, and extended their lead to seven at 21-14, punctuated with a near three-point play by senior Sam Francois. Unfortunately, this would be the Blazers' last comfortable lead of the game before Magruder's Donald Robinson took over. Robinson, averaging just over 18 points a game and clearly the Colonel's go-to player, blew past a Blair defender on the baseline, got fouled, and elevated for a two-handed jam. After completing the three point play, he stole the ball, and in the half-court set pulled up and hit a three pointer, bringing the Colonels to within one.
Following a Blair timeout, Magruder took their first lead with 1:01 left in the first half off a three-pointer by senior Michael Schaerr. The 6'5 gunner was clearly in the game for his shooting, but he made a good backdoor pass to convert the Colonels' final basket of the half, which ended with Magruder up 30-26. Despite their lapse at the end of the half, it looked as if the Blazers could compete with Magruder and had a shot to win.
Whatever hopes Blair had of finally getting a victory after six straight losses were alleviated when the third quarter began. After falling behind 36-26 to start the quarter, junior Milton Colquehoun stole the ball and layed the ball in for an easy two, breaking Blair's 3:20 scoring drought. Hopes of a quick comeback were dashed when Robinson elevated for back-to-back threes, pushing the Colonels' lead to 14 points.
Clearly frustrated at the way the half was going, head coach Mark DeStefano went to his bench, inserting a completely new lineup. His message was received well as the second team of Quentin Snively, Rex Jarrett, Mohammed Mansaray, Rich Chavez, and Joe Dubuche, showed some resilience, trading buckets with Magruder's starters for the remainder of the quarter. DeStefano, obviously making a point, and pleased with the performance of his new five, stuck with the lineup for the entire fourth quarter. The third-quarter run proved to be too deep a hole for the Blazers to climb out of, as the game finished with a final score of 58-47.
Monday's contest proved to be yet another game that the Blazers passed by, letting a chance for a victory slip away in a couple minutes of unfocused play. "We were winning and we were the ones panicking," said Chavez. "We need to put the nail in the coffin and start finishing teams." Magruder's Robinson was the star of the game, finishing with 21 points. Ross Williams led Blair with 10.
The Blair boys' varsity basketball team plays its next home game on Feb. 8 against Winston Churchill at 7 p.m.
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