SILVER SPRING – The Montgomery Blair Blazers varsity girls basketball team made a statement Tuesday when it handily defeated the visiting Blake Bengals, 50-32.
The Blazers opened the game with an 11-0 scoring run and never relinquished their lead. Senior guard Alayna McFadden (15 points) and senior forward Aissatou Bokoum (10 points) made sure a Bengals comeback was out of the question as McFadden cut through the Blake defense and Bokoum dominated on the offensive boards.
Even though Blake created turnovers and players were going to the ground to grab the ball, the Bengals couldn’t translate their efforts to the scoreboard and trailed 28-9 at halftime.
Blake’s pair of shining moments came courtesy of senior guard Kennedy Love in the third quarter. Love hit two back-to-back three-pointers to try to cut into Blair’s lead. However, with McFadden shouting instructions to her teammates from the top of the key and senior forward Nora Olagbaju registering six points in the third quarter, the Bengals couldn’t recover.
First-year Blazers head coach Pete Stephan rested his starters as the final period began. Even though the Blazers didn’t score a single bucket for the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, Blake’s shooting woes continued until the buzzer signaled the end of the game.
“We just weren’t mentally there,” said Blake head coach Chris Towle. “We came off a very hard loss [against Paint Branch] last Friday in probably our best game of the year, and [Blair] is a very similar basketball team … We handled [Paint Branch] very well and moved the ball, and tonight we didn’t do that.”
The Bengals will host Springbrook Friday for Blake’s Senior Night and the regular season finale.
Meanwhile, the Blazers will host Einstein for their own Senior Night on Friday before entering the postseason as a number two seed behind Paint Branch.
Stephan said he hopes to see the Panthers again in the playoffs. When the two teams clashed in early January, Blair had several players sidelined due to injury and suffered a 15-point loss.
“We’re starting to gel a little more as a team and we’re gelling maybe at the right time,” said Stephan. “We’re getting everybody back and we’re looking at being full strength for the playoffs. Hopefully we can get another game against Paint Branch with our full team.”