As Trey Wainwright dribbled up the court with Blair’s lone chance at avoiding an upset loss to Sherwood in his hands, he looked ready to juke, bracing for contact or a defender’s hand, none of which materialized. Untouched and unrestricted, Wainwright wove his way through Blazers teammates and Warriors alike to tie the game at 56 just before the clock struck zero.
“I was definitely surprised,” Wainwright said. “I was expecting a big man to step up — I was going to dish it to a teammate. But they never stepped up, so I went to the rim.”
Wainwright’s game-tying layup at the end of regulation was the only play that came easily to Blair all night as the Blazers outlasted a scrappy Sherwood effort, 72-67, in double overtime.
Slowed to offensive submission by a fast-moving Sherwood zone, Blair (14-2, 6-0 Montgomery 4A South) trailed from the tip until the fourth quarter, battled back for 32 minutes and didn’t take the lead until a minute had passed in overtime. Fifteen of Blair’s 27 first-half points came via three-pointers as the Blazers shot over and around the Sherwood defense.
“I thought we were stagnant offensively. Our ball movement was poor,” Blair Coach Damon Pigrom said. “Our guards are in great shape, and at halftime we said, ‘Let’s make it a track meet. Let’s see where their legs are with two minutes left.’”
In the sweltering Sherwood gym, that approach worked perfectly. The Blazers relied on transition layups and jumpers — and just one three-pointer — to climb back and tie the score with just fewer than three minutes to play in regulation. That transition defense was sparked by a more vigorous defensive showing, which forced the disciplined Sherwood offense into shots it didn’t want, and eventually forced the Warriors’ patient back court into turnovers.
“We picked it up on the defensive end,” said Blair guard Damar Bess, who finished with 19 points, 12 after halftime. “When all of us put our minds to it, we play great team defense. We don’t have one great lockdown defender — we’re not long enough— but as a team, when we play together, we can stop any team.”
Sherwood (10-6, 2-5 Montgomery 4A East) survived Blair’s run-and-gun approach in overtime, in part because of an Ellis Dozier block on a would-be game-winning shot with time expiring. But as Blair worked through lengthy possessions in double overtime, the Warriors’ legs slowed as loose balls they’d reeled in earlier in the game and key rebounds they’d leapt to in regulation fell into Blazer hands.
Bess put the Blazers ahead with 1 minute 18 seconds to play in the second overtime, and Wainwright sealed the win by hitting 4 of 4 three-pointers in the final minute.
“Our coach just said, a game like this, it gives us some hair on our chests,” Bess said. “It shows that we can pull through when things are tough. But we don’t want to go through too many games like that.”