By Christian Romo
Not even a loss to their cross-town rivals could spoil the party at Marshall.
As the first opponent at the brand new $11.5 million Marshall Sports Complex, the Blair Vikings (5-1) defeated the Marshall Eagles (5-7), 80-60, Friday night in Pasadena. Blair junior Dezmond Washington (23) led all players with 18 points on 8 of 14 shooting, barreling through the Eagles defense and shutting down their inside scoring.
“I let my defense convert into my offense,” said Washington, whose pressure helped the Vikings force sixteen steals. “We work on trap a lot,” he said, “we know our roles and we all played it.”
Blair turned turnovers into transition threes, shooting 10 of 26 from beyond the three-point line while maintaining a double-digit lead throughout most of the game. Vikings head coach Alon Margalit praised his team’s defensive energy leading to offense: “We just work so hard throughout the year,” he said. “We’re the better conditioned team more often than not.”
Despite the loss, Marshall coach Steven Tolbert was happy with his team’s effort against a tough opponent. “I think we fought hard the whole game…that’s all we can ask for in a game like that.” Eagles senior Duguesdin Paul (2) led the team with 13 points and 7 rebounds, adding four steals to his team’s defensive effort.
A 10-0 run in the second quarter brought the Eagles within four points of tying, but the Vikings immediately took control with a 7-0 run of their own, never again letting the Eagles within single digits. “We didn’t want to give up 60 points this game,” said Margalit. “We want to pride ourselves in playing a complete game, 32 minutes.”
Marshall Fundamental hosted a grand party for the grand opening of their sports complex. The home students celebrated the event by trading chants and cheers across the gym with Blair students, a good-natured competition that highlighted the spirit of the event. “I loved being part of something special like this,” said Tolbert. “You gotta love this cross-town rivalry, for sure.”
Marshall’s visual arts department treated the crowd with a halftime spectacle, complete with lights, live music, costumes, and confetti. Amongst the student performances included scenes from the musicals Chicago and Hair, a live performance of the swing classic “Sing Sing Sing,” a mix-gender tribute to the Spice Girls, dance performances to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” and Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies,” and a curtain-call of the dozens of cheerleaders, dancers, musicians, and performers who made it all possible.
The Vikings next host Montebello Tuesday at 6, while the Eagles head to Gabrielino Thursday at 4:45 p.m.