Full court press ravages Blair across the floor in 68-35 loss
JAN. 3, NELSON H. KOBREN GYM-
After notching their first victory in the Walter Johnson Holiday Tournament over winter break, the varsity girls' basketball team returned home Wednesday night for a 68-35 loss to the Whitman Vikings. The Blazers (1-7) led the Vikings at the end of the first quarter, but Blair's recurring struggle to run a cohesive offense devastated the team as the Vikings turned turnovers into fast breaks to pull ahead.
In an intense first quarter, the Blazers played an aggressive man-to-man defense and ran set plays on offense to match Whitman for every basket. The Blazers opened the scoring after senior Helen Denbow slung a baseline inbound pass to wide open sophomore Ashley Arnold on the other side of half-court. Arnold drove down the court and snuck a bounce pass through the lane to junior Sara Ramsay on the block, who finished the two-on-one play with a basket. After the Vikings hit a jump-shot on the next play, the Blazers responded as sophomore Jenny Williams recovered an errant pass and drove down the lane for a lay-up, giving the Blazers an early 4-2 lead.
Whitman scored two unanswered baskets and a foul shot, pulling ahead to a 4-7 lead, but the Blazers did not lose momentum. Williams drove past two defenders in the lane for a lay-up, adding two of her 15 points on the night. With two points apiece from Williams, Ramsay and Arnold, the Blazers finished out the quarter up 12-11.
But the Blazers lost all of their offensive momentum when Whitman opened the second quarter with full court pressure. Blair's guards struggled to break the solid press as they passed the ball back and forth, horizontally across the floor, without making forward progress up the court. The Vikings turned backcourt steals into open baskets, jumping out to a 19-13 lead. The Blazers were able to break the press when they positioned Ramsay or junior Regat Buluze, the team's centers, at center court to act as a transition pass up the court. "We needed to work on getting a big man in the middle to break the press," said Williams.
Still, once the Blazers gained possession, Whitman's pressure prevented them from settling down on offense, leading to rushed passes and wild shots. "We couldn't get our offense off after the pressure," said head coach James Mogge. The Blazers' sloppy offense produced just three points in the quarter, all coming on free throws, and Blair ended the half down 29-15.
In the second half, the Blazers rekindled their offense by moving the ball to open positions and by feeding the post players, Ramsay, Buluze and junior Molly Martinez, for open shots. But offensive turnovers plagued the Blazers and prevented them from making dents in Whitman's lead. The Vikings used quick transitions to turn defensive steals and rebounds into fast breaks that devastated the Blazers' defense. According to junior co-captain Meghan Cadigan, who scored seven points on the night, a lack of communication on defense allowed Whitman to generate open shots after Blair turnovers. "We didn't talk as much [as in the first quarter] on defense, so they had a lot of fast breaks," said Cadigan.
Despite the final score, Mogge saw improvement in the Blazers' play, citing Blair's effective man-to-man defense and strong play in the first quarter as progress. But to jumpstart their stagnant offense and reach a competitive level, Mogge stressed that the team must learn to work together as a unit. "We need to develop trust in each other," said Mogge. "Basketball is all about rhythm." Mogge compared the sport to a "five on five dance," in which players must become part of the team's "flow" to achieve success.
The girls' varsity basketball team plays its next home game on Jan. 5 against Sherwood at 7 p.m.
Rachita Sood. Rachita Sood wants you to tell her a joke. She probably won't get it, but she'll laugh anyways. In the little free time she has, Rachita enjoys jammin' to ROXANNE, dressing in earth-toned clothes and munching on Peeps. More »