Timber Wolf girls get Blair his 400th win
Prospect hoop girls best Somersworth and Raymond
|COACH JERI BLAIR is congratulated by his players after winning his 400th career game on Friday, Jan. 7, in Raymond. Barb Blair - Courtesy Photo. (click for larger version)|
January 10, 2011ALTON — To reach 400 wins in high school basketball, it takes longevity, good players and teams and a little bit of luck.
Jeri Blair has had all of those things during a career that is in its 28th year and on Friday, Jan. 7, the Prospect Mountain girls' hoop coach picked up his 400th career win, as the Timber Wolves knocked off Raymond, 59-22.
"I've been a long time doing it, so it's awful nice to have it arrive," Blair said. "I look back and think, where'd they all come from
"It's well worth doing the summer programs and the AAU programs," he continued. "It's a nice accomplishment."
But he also knows that he couldn't have reached the plateau he reached on Friday without the many, many players who played for him in Belmont and at Prospect.
"I've coached a lot of kids and had a lot of good ones," he said. "That's what got me to where I am."
While Blair didn't let the players in on the fact that he was closing in on the milestone, he was well aware, but was glad his team was able to put the game to bed early.
"It was a nice game to get the 400th because I could relax," he said.
Prospect got scoring from all 10 players who took the court and rolled to the 59-22 win over the Rams.
Blair was able to sit most of his starters for good chunks of the game and got other players playing time.
"The kids realized why they weren't playing as much," the veteran mentor said. "It was good to be able to get everyone playing."
Exchange student Deb Bulhoes led the way for the Timber Wolves, as she tossed in 17 points. Rachel Roberge added 11 and Izzy Glazier put in eight in just more than a quarter of playing time.
While the win over Raymond was a big one for Blair's career, the team's 55-45 victory over Somersworth three days earlier was big for the team's season.
"It was a big win for us," Blair said. "They are a nice ball club."
From talking to other coaches, Blair knew that the 'Toppers didn't shoot a lot from outside, instead relying on players flashing from side to side inside the three-point arc.
"We did a good job of taking that away from them," he said. "And we were able to handle their ball pressure."
He noted that the Timber Wolves did crack under the press a couple of times, but for the most part, they handled it well.
The Timber Wolves came out of the gate and took a 10-8 lead after one quarter, but struggled mightily in the second frame, scoring just three points in eight minutes. The 'Toppers took a 21-13 lead into the locker rooms at halftime.
"I told the girls (at halftime), if we can narrow it to two going to the fourth, we'll win this game," Blair said. "We seem to have great fourth quarters."
Sure enough, the Timber Wolves outscored the hosts 15-5 in the third quarter and took a 28-26 lead heading to the last quarter.
And in that quarter, Prospect exploded, hitting 27 points, the highest output of any quarter this season for the Timber Wolf girls.
Prospect hit 13 of 16 free throws in the final frame, with Glazier and Roberge each hitting five of six and Sahara Brown hitting three of four.
The 'Toppers made a couple of runs at the Timber Wolves in the final frame, but when they were able to cut the lead to four or five points, Roberge would hit a three to put her team back up by the larger margin. The senior guard hit three three-pointers in the final eight minutes.
"That was a big lift," Blair said.
The 'Toppers came out and doubled down on Prospect's inside players and the guards came through, with Glazier sinking 18 points and Roberge hitting for 17.
"That's when you enjoy having the inside and outside," Blair noted.
On a positive note for the girls in the paint, Bulhoes, Sydney Robertson and Emily Barrett combined for 24 rebounds on the night and also accounted for 13 points.
The Prospect girls will be on the road at Newfound on Friday, Jan. 14, and the Bears will likely be looking for a little revenge after the Timber Wolves beat them in the finals of the Lakes Region Holiday Tournament. The girls will head back to Blair's former coaching grounds on Tuesday, Jan. 18, as they take on Belmont at 6 p.m.