Worst offensive output of season leads to 20-point loss
Jan. 31, NELSON KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM-
A new year is supposed to bring a new beginning, a clean slate, an opportunity to cast off the disappointments of the last twelve months and start anew with optimism and gusto. For Blair's girls basketball team 2006 has been anything but. With an embarrassing 28-48 loss to the Whitman Vikings the Blazers completed an 0-for-January and extended their losing streak to six games. From the onset Blair couldn't find their offensive rhythm, and what resulted was a sluggish and sloppy performance that dropped their season record to 4-12.
The offensive ineptitude began early for the Blazers. Senior co-captain Jessica Dubose notched Blair's only field goal in the first quarter, and as the buzzer sounded after the first eight minutes the Blazers had mustered a paltry three points. Despite the shooting struggles, Blair found themselves down by just six thanks to some stellar defense of their own. Both teams struggled with turnovers and ill-advised shots as the first quarter had a decidedly lethargic tone.
Finally in the second quarter Whitman found a bit of offense, which was all they would need in this contest. A 14-6 run to begin the second session propelled Whitman to a 23-9 advantage, and the Vikings took care of the rest. Whitman relied on an impressive transition game to feast on Blair's offensive carelessness and convert steals into easy points. Oftentimes the Vikings baited the Blazer defense into collapsing on the player pushing the tempo, only to kick the ball back out to a trailing player who converted a wide-open jump shot.
By the end of the half the Vikings had built their lead to 27-13 and Blair was still struggling mightily to create any offensive spark. The Blazers leading scorer and offensive cog, senior co-captain Cate Rassman, was held to two points in the first half, her lowest output in any half this season. Rassman received little relief from her teammates as Dubose's three points led all Blazers at the half.
However, the Vikings couldn't hold Rassman down all night, and she led a brief offensive explosion in the beginning of the first half that made the game interesting. Her seven points in the third quarter helped Blair stage an 8-2 run and cut the lead to 29-22 with 4:12 remaining in the third. However, just over a minute later Whitman had pushed the advantage back to 12, and the Blazers only serious second-half challenge was stifled. By the end of the third quarter the Vikings had regained their 14-point cushion and the Blazers sleepwalked through the fourth quarter en route to a 20-point defeat.
Blair's early deficit proved to be decisive on a night where no one could lead the offense. Head coach James Mogge made a curious move to not start either of his point guards, freshman Jenny Williams and senior Janay Walker. In their place junior Helen Denbow got her first start of the season and senior Daniella Constantin stepped in to try and help run the offense. Mogge said later that he hoped to take the edge off of his often erratic guards by allowing them to watch the game before entering it, but it seemed the plan backfired. Without Williams or Walker ever touching the court in the first quarter the Blazer offense looked lost in their relatively simple scheme.
Mogge admitted that the early struggles set a bad pace for the rest of the game. "It's really hard to play from behind because then we can't make mistakes," said Mogge.
Although Rassman finished with a team-high 11 points, her early shooting struggles only added to the offensive woes. Mogge believed the Blazers had quality looks in the early going but could not capitalize. "We got good shots in the first quarter and we didn't take advantage," Mogge asserted, "We have to take advantage when we have opportunities."
Rassman received almost no help from her teammates tonight as far as offensive production is concerned. Senior co-captain Sara Pierce, Constantin, and Walker all finished with four points, and only two other players registered points. From the post game to the perimeter play, nothing was clicking for the Blazers tonight.
However, the game remained somewhat competitive because of excellent Blair defense. The Blazers looked comfortable in their 2-3 zone, shutting down a well-coached Vikings attack. Whitman, who improved to 11-4 on the year, never looked comfortable and seldom got clean looks at the basket in their half court game.
Blair looks for some much needed relief in their next contest, Friday at home against Sherwood. The Blazers fell to the Warriors by one in their last meeting so they'll be looking for revenge and some kind of spark to revive a season that is slowly disintegrating. Mogge hopes Blair can shake off the disappointment of tonight's game and make a statement in their next match up. "Friday night's going to be really important," Mogge emphasized, "We're going to work really hard all week."
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 »