Undermanned Blazers fought tough, but not tough enough to top NA

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Blazers Guard Nick Gonzales, middle, attempts to keep his team in the game with a one handed shot
Blazers Guard Nick Gonzales, middle, attempts to keep his team in the game with a one handed shot Ramie Hedman | The Broadside

Stephen MacDonald
The Broadside

The fight for playoff positioning was in full effect Nov. 14, when the Blazers lost a tough fight to NA 102-96 in Central Oregon Community College intramural basketball action.

Within the first two minutes there were three fouls. Both teams didn’t want to give up positioning, playing hard and physical from the tip off .

Starting out neither team dominated; out of the nine lead changes, eight of them were within the first eight minutes. Blazers’ strategy was clear from the opening tip: feed their center, Vick Purdue #4 which resulted in the Blazers building up an 18 point lead.

However, after Purdue picked up his third foul with 12 minutes left in the first half and had to sit down, the Blazers had to switch their strategy.

Without Purdue, the Blazers became undersized and NA took advantage. Immediately NA started getting the ball into their center, Brad LaMarche #8; giving him a steady dose of touches which opened up the floodgates for NA. LaMarche took over and started doing work on the Blazers’ lead, finishing up with a game high 42 points and 12 rebounds. LaMarche also added three steals.

Despite the size advantage, the Blazers relied on sharpshooting to try and ward off the push from NA. Guards Nick Gonzales #3 and Harvey Gonzales #23, kept up with the LaMarche-led attack, knocking down critical shots. NA however was poised, reducing the lead to a manageable halftime score of 46-54. NA’s attack did more than cut the lead, it caused the momentum to shift, although the pace stayed at a high level the whole time.

Starting the second half, NA made their game plan clear: get the Blazers who were already in foul trouble out of the game. In the second minute of the 20-minute half, Purdue picked up his final foul on a controversial offensive foul call. With the Blazers’ middle now fully exposed, NA  immediately went to work. LaMarche and forward Jimmy Holmadahal #33 struck with four fast buckets and cut the Blazers nine-point halftime
lead to three.

The final lead change came with 12 minutes remaining, when NA’s guard James Nunez #0, hit a big three. With only five available players, the Blazers couldn’t afford any mistakes but wound up making a big one that probably cost them the game. Harvey Gonzales committed his fifth and final foul and fouled out of the game; leaving the Blazers only four eligible players to play against NA’s five.

NA center, Brad Lamarche, lands another shot to help build an 18-point lead against the Blazers.
NA center, Brad Lamarche, lands another shot to help build an 18-point lead against the Blazers. Ramie Hedman | The Broadside

The Blazers fought hard, but with NA’s man advantage, it wasn’t enough. NA pulled ahead to a comfortable 16-point lead and never looked back.

With the game ending and NA getting the win, it created some momentum for NA leading into the playoffs–and the potential for an exciting game should the Blazers and NA meet again. In losing Nick Gonzales was the high man for the Blazers, scoring 28 points and collecting six rebounds.

You can contact Stephen MacDonald at s.macd31@gmail.com

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