Blazers beat Knights 54-38
The Montgomery Blair Blazers (7-6) defeated the Wheaton Knights (6-7) by a score of 54-38 on Tuesday, January 15th. The game started out slowly, with the Blazers played with caution till they got a sense of their competition. "We need to come out aggressive," pointed out head coach Pete Stephan. That lack of aggressiveness early on led to Blair letting Wheaton hang in the game until late into the fourth quarter.
Although the teams were tied most of the first quarter, the Knights did not look composed and their passes often missed their targets. The Blazers utilized their size in the frontcourt to consistently find points in the paint. "We had a really big height advantage today so we were able to use our post players," noted senior Nora Olagbaju.
The game began to pick up speed halfway through the first quarter when freshman and starter Kate Hildebrandt forced a turnover, leading to a smooth layup by senior Alayna McFadden. Just about ten seconds later McFadden came through with a strong drive to the basket and another layup. The transition offense was crucial, according to McFadden. "I think our fast breaks were most effective because the other team couldn't really get there," McFadden reflected after the game. Blair was able to force a lot of turnovers with their aggressive defense, which led to a number of fast breaks throughout the game. With just one minute left in the first quarter, McFadden stole the ball mid-court and assisted junior Megan Burke with a lay-up.
In the second quarter, senior Nora Olagbaju started off strong by winning a rebound which she sent to McFadden who finished with a lay up on a break away. A strong long pass from McFadden to Olagbaju opened up an opportunity for Olagbaju to drive to the basket and make a lay-up. It was a physical game with lots of fouls, and therefore lots of free throws, that the Blazers were often not able to make. Inconsistency at the line kept the Knights in the game until late, and Blair only led by nine at the half. The score at halftime was 26-17.
In the third quarter a turnover by Blair led to an offensive comeback by Wheaton. "Sometimes we're too quick to throw it to the other team and create a turnover, so that's something we need to work on," said Olagbaju. The score was 39-31 at the end of the third quarter. Despite the big win, the game was kept pretty close for most of the way, which McFadden attributed to the team playing down to the level of their competitors. "When we play a team that we know we are better than, not to be derogatory or anything, we should still play to the level that we can play at because we don't need to drop to the other team's level," she commented fairly.
The Blazers increased their lead in the fourth quarter with a few more layups from McFadden that finally put a comeback too far out of reach for Wheaton. The game ended with a score of 54-38. Coach Stephan said that McFadden's high scoring performance was "the highlight of the game."
The Blazers will play again this Monday, January 23, against the Northwood Gladiators at Blair at 7:15.
Emma Markus. staff writer More »