Boys' basketball suffers disheartening four-point loss to Vikings, dropping record to 5-12
In a season full of disappointments, Monday night's game against Whitman High School offered little reprieve. The Blazers, still unable to put together four solid quarters of basketball, fell 48-44 despite playing a riveting final quarter, in which they came back from a nine-point deficit to within a basket of winning.
Whitman came into the game with a 13-3 record and one of the best point guard/power forward combos in the county: seniors Daniel Engelstad and 6'10" shot blocker Jerome Habel. Habel swatted balls like flies and threw down hellacious alley-oops and two-handed jams to please the few loyal Whitman fans in the stands. In the third quarter, Habel's aerial acrobatics provided enough of a lift to Whitman that Blair was unable to answer until almost five minutes into the quarter. He finished with 20 points to lead all scorers.
The game began slowly and the first few possessions were turnover-plagued. It took a while for the Blazers to find their rhythm. However, junior Charles Atakora came out hot from the start, opening the game with a sick reverse dunk to get the fans to their feet. He dropped 14 points in the first half alone, scoring more than half of the team's first-half total. Atakora was a killer on the boards all night and mastered the mid-range jump shot that made former Blair star Ellis Yeadon famous.
After halftime, the Blazers came out of the locker room flat. The Vikings stormed out to a commanding 39-32 lead over the Blazers, who managed only six points in the entire third quarter, and four of the six came in the final 30 seconds.
The fourth quarter was the best quarter for both teams. Senior point guard Max Blackburn, like he has done so many times this season, hoisted the Blazers onto his shoulders in an attempt to lead them to victory. Late in the fourth quarter, senior power forward/center Jamie Platky got a costly technical after a ferocious foul against Habel, which led to four foul shots. Habel hit three of four, putting the game seemingly out of reach. But Blackburn, with his clutch shooting ability, knocked down a three-pointer from the corner of the court.
Two equally clutch free throws by sophomore Brandon Curry brought the game to within four, and a superior drive by senior David Cheeks brought the game to within a bucket. But with only 11 seconds to go and a Whitman layup putting the Vikings up four, the Blazers were unable to complete the rally, falling 48-44 in a hard-fought game. "Whitman is a top team in the county and only has three losses all year. We played with good effort, we never gave up and we played hard. That's all I ask," said Coach Jeff Newby. "Against most teams in the county, we would have won tonight."
This season, the team has been plagued with misfortune, starting last June when Blair graduated two of its all-time finest basketball players, Cyril Djoukeng and Yeadon. The season itself started off badly with starting shooting guard Alonzo Woods out of the first game for disciplinary reasons. From there, things got worse—the team lost three straight games and was one loss away from tying its total losses for all of last season.
The season hit rock bottom on Jan 28 when the Blazers faced Walter Johnson High School. After a hard foul by senior Carl Reid, a fight broke out on the court that resulted in three Blair suspensions (see story page 32). Three of the team's senior contributors were lost for the rest of the season, including big-time scorers Woods and Ryan Sessoms.
Down the road for the Blazers are tough games against Magruder High School on Feb 20 and Paint Branch High School on Feb 25. Both teams beat the Blazers earlier in the season
Calvin Anderson. Calvin Anderson was born in Washington D.C. on January 3rd 1986. He now lives with his mom in Takoma Park Maryland. Calvin is the man behind the infamous column Cal's Call. In addition to writing his column he enjoys playing sports including lacrosse and basketball … More »