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Blair calls it a career

Prospect girls knocked from playoffs in first round

SYDNEY ROBERTSON looks for a passing lane in action against Mascoma on Wednesday, Feb. 23. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
February 28, 2011
ALTON — Prospect Mountain girls' basketball coach Jeri Blair had made the decision before the playoffs even began that this was going to be his last season on the sidelines.

After 30 years of coaching high school basketball, a record of 405-199 and a state championship under his belt, Blair was walking away from the game as soon as this season ended for the Prospect Mountain girls.

And the Timber Wolf girls played like they wanted to extend their coach's season another few days, but in the end, came up a bit short, falling 50-40 to Mascoma in the opening round of the Division III hoop tournament on Wednesday, Feb. 23.

"The game got away from us in the third quarter," Blair said. "They worked so hard."

The veteran mentor took a little of the blame for his team's exit from the playoffs.

"I don't think I taught the basketball knowledge," he stated. "You always go home and judge yourself, trying to weigh in on what you did and why.

"These kids gave 100 percent tonight," he continued. "Before the game I told them to just go out and give me everything you've got."

Sahara Brown took the opening tipoff in for a quick 2-0 lead for the Timber Wolves, but the Royals answered right back with five points in a row to take the 5-2 lead.

Another bucket from Brown and two hoops in a row from Debora Bulhoes pulled Prospect to an 8-5 lead before the Royals closed out the quarter on a 5-0 run and took a 10-8 lead after one quarter of play.

Sydney Robertson put back a rebound to open the second quarter and tie the game at 10. She then picked up a big block at the other end of the floor and Brown turned that into points with a baseline shot that fell for a 12-10 lead.

After Robertson hit another hoop for a 14-10 lead, Mascoma finally got on the board, cutting the lead to two. Brown hit two free throws, but the visitors answered with a free throw and then a field goal, cutting the lead to 16-15.

Bulhoes hit from the charity stripe, but the Royals drained a hoop with 2:20 to go to tie the game at 17 and took a 19-17 lead on a pair of free throws with just more than a minute to play in the half.

Robertson hit from the line to cut Mascoma's lead to one with 31 seconds to play. The senior center then turned a Bulhoes rebound into two points for a 20-19 lead.

Mascoma hit a shot to retake the lead at 21-20, but Robertson hit two from the line with 1.8 seconds on the clock in the first half, giving the Timber Wolves a 22-21 lead after 16 minutes.

The Royals came out in the second half and quickly seized control of the game.

The visitors scored the first 12 points of the half and the Timber Wolves didn't put a point on the board until almost five minutes into the quarter when Bulhoes hit a foul shot. She hit two more from the line and also scored the Timber Wolves' lone field goal of the quarter and Mascoma led 35-27 with just eight minutes to play.

However, the fourth quarter was a bit different for the Timber Wolves, as they came roaring back.

Robertson hit the first hoop of the quarter, which was followed by a Mascoma free throw. Michelle Lizotte then hit a free throw for the Timber Wolve, but the Royals came back with a three-pointer, making it 39-30.

Robertson then hit two free throws and Allison LaRoche put home a hoop after a Robertson steal in the defensive press to cut the lead to five.

Lizotte hit another free throw to make it a four-point game and a Bulhoes rebound and hoop cut the lead to just two with 4:25 to go in the game.

Brown then drained a pair from the free throw line with 3:27 on the clock, tying the game at 39.

After a Mascoma hoop gave them the lead back, Brown hit a free throw with 3:01 left in the game to cut the lead to 41-40. From that point on, the Timber Wolves didn't score and the Royals were able to put the game away for the 50-40 win.

Blair noted that he was surprised that the Royals came out in man-to-man defense, as everyone he had talked to said they played a 2-3 zone.

Robertson put in 13 points in her final game, while Bulhoes added 12 and Brown chipped in with 11.

"I'm proud of what we accomplished here, winning the Christmas tournament and 29 ball games in two years," he stated. I've had a lot of fun here and enjoyed the two years I've been here."

He also praised the administration of Prospect Mountain High School for standing behind him in his two years.

"I've had some great players and Rebecca (Morse) here with me for so long doing a good job running the JVs and the summer program," he continued. "And I've got a great wife and we're going to be able to do thing together and that's a good thing.

"I lost my first game and I'm going out the same way," Blair said. "But I won a lot of them in between."

The Timber Wolves finished the regular season at 11-6 and earned the eighth seed in the Division III playoffs. They also took home the first-place trophy in the Lakes Region Holiday Basketball Tournament in Gilford over Christmas break.

Martin Lord Osman
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