Blazers run away with win in dominant second half
ALBERT EINSTEIN HIGH SCHOOL, Dec. 5 –
Blair's varsity boys' basketball team (1-0) started their season on a promising note Friday night, overwhelming Einstein (0-1) in a convincing 67-47 win on the Titans' home court. Play was roughly even through the first two quarters before the Blazers extended a three-point halftime advantage to nine during a dominant third quarter. Blair never trailed again as they insulated their lead on sharp defense and fast break execution.
After a mediocre first half, during which Blair led by as many as eight points but allowed Einstein to rally in an 11-4 run, head coach Mark DeStefano said that the Blazers made some adjustments on defense. Senior forward Neil Corran identified better communication and rebounding as two such adjustments. "They took it to us and we were unprepared," DeStefano said about the beginning of the game.
The effect was almost instantaneous. Blair opened the third quarter on a 12-6 run and limited the Titans to just 20 second-half points. Senior point guard Eddie Kolleh led the Blazers with four steals, all of which were converted for points.
Offensively, Blair shared the wealth. Seniors captain and center Leon Sampson and senior captain and shooting guard Wayne Henderson headed Blair's scoring with fifteen points each. Henderson was deadly from the perimeter, hitting floaters and three pointers with astonishing accuracy while Sampson used his height to break down Einstein in the paint.
Senior captain and forward Mike McClain led Blair in assists but also got it done by himself, highlighted in a steal midway through the fourth quarter which he went coast to coast for a layup to stretch their lead to 42-33.
The Blazers sustained the lead for the rest of the game, extending the advantage into double digits during the fourth quarter for a final 67-47 win.
The Blazers started the game slowly, allowing Einstein to maintain a one point lead during the first quarter. Blair's defense could not contain Einstein's offense as sophomore forward Andrew Sheffield shot two three-point shots within minute of each other.
Blair contained Einstein later, even gaining a decent lead 24-18 with five minutes left in the second quarter. Einstein rallied back however and three minutes later, Blair was only winning 26-25. However, with less than two minutes left in the quarter, Henderson stole the ball and had a breakaway run for a layup. The score at halftime was Blair winning 30-27.
The match up between Einstein and Blair was voted myFox Washington DC's "Game of the Week," a program which allows people to vote on which high school game's highlight reel will be shown on Fox's newscast. Blair's game won with 51% of the vote, according to Fox. Last season, Blair lost on the road to Wootton for the "Game of the Week." DeStefano didn't think that the game being televised made a big difference. "We did it last year and that benefited us for this year," DeStefano said.
Although the win is a big morale boost for Blair, McClain sees things his team can improve on. "It was a good win, but there are a lot of things to work on," McClain said. DeStefano identified the areas of improvement as being defensive transitions: "They need to be more continuous," DeStefano said.
Blair's next home game is against Kennedy on Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.
Click here to see the highlights from the game which appeared on Fox 5.
Editor's note: Mark DeStefano is an adviser for Silver Chips Online.
Jeremy Gradwohl. Jeremy is a good, upstanding citizen. He likes the city of Takoma Park, baseball, good music and the Orioles back in the day when they had Cal Ripken Jr. Nature also plays a big part in his life. More »