If you were looking for some excitement on Friday night, January 25th, you needed to go no further than Winters, Texas, where Winters hosted Miles in basketball games that were physical and exciting. Both the varsity girls game and varsity boys game were full of excitement and suspense. All four teams played until the very last second of the game. When it was all said and done the Winters Lady Blizzards fell to the Miles Lady Dogs by a score of 53-52 and the Miles Blizzards defeated the Miles Bulldogs by a score of 59-56.

Lady Blizzards fall to Lady Dogs 53-52.

  I would be harder to find a more competitive game in the district this season than the one played on Friday. Miles came in sporting a 7-13 record and are fourth in district with a 3-4 district record. Winters entered the game with an 8-19 record, going 0-6 in district and sitting in last place.

  Winters never led during the game but they kept the score within striking distance and almost pulled off an upset against a much more experienced and physical Lady Dogs team. The Lady Blizzards don’t have any seniors on their varsity squad while Miles has only one senior on the squad in team co-captain Hailey Smith. The two teams have completely different approaches to the game but are each coming into their own, despite what their current win/loss record might indicate.

  Miles is a full court press type team that grinds away at you and forces you to make mistakes. They are one of the most physical girls varsity teams in the district. Even though they only have one senior, they have a great deal of experience in junior team co-captain Skyler Brooks, junior shooting guard Halle Hudson, junior Tycie Lange, junior Cambree Schwartz and have rising stars in freshmen Allie Kalina and Regan Smithwick. Many of the girls have experience playing on last year’s varsity squad.

  Winters only had one or two current players on their varsity squad last year but there were 8 seniors who graduated meaning that the underclassmen got little playing time. What Winters does have is #23 junior Marley Smith. The court awareness that Smith has would make you think she had at least 2 years or more years on varsity. She always knows where the ball is and she always knows what the coach is calling because she repeats his instructions to her teammates on the court. Even when bringing the ball down the court she will take a glance at coach Brandon Postell to see what he’s calling as she sizes up the defense. Smith is fearless shooting the ball and she draws a lot of attention from defenders, many times getting double-teamed. At times she is a little slow to kick the ball out and ends up taking a lot of contact on her shots and putting up some prayers but overall she’s a solid player. And, that part of her game will come with experience. Her leadership on the court is apparent and allows no room for doubt. Smith knows the game and she knows how to work the ball. On defense she is tenacious, rarely giving a defender an open shot. Her aggressive play was a key in this game, a game that the Lady Blizzards lost by one point. #24, junior Miranda Rodriguez is able to make a shot from anywhere on the court and she isn’t afraid to put the ball up. She’s got quick feet and can make ankle-breaking cuts on defenders. #12 Jezebel Gonzalez also is a junior and is a capable defender, collapsing on the ball as players get to the paint.  #22, junior Skylar Lee is a force. She sets up house in the paint and challenges anyone to drive towards the basket. Lee’s strength on offense is taking short jumpers and getting offensive rebounds.

  In the game Miles jumped out to a 3-0 lead and before long the score was 7-2, 11-4, 11-7 as Miles eventually climbed to a 19-7 lead. The Lady Blizzards started getting in synch and by the end of the first quarter the score and were down 24-13. The second quarter was give-and-take with both teams playing punishing defense.

  The third quarter looked like Miles was going to runaway with the game. The  Lady Dogs were up 36-22. But that was when Winters really started grinding and contesting each Miles shot. The Lady Blizzards started passing the ball around and finding the open shooter to put up 7 points in the blink of an eye, bringing the score to 36-29.

The fourth quarter is when the fireworks began as both teams combined for 40 points in that quarter alone. Each shot was contested, each extra pass found an open shooter, the paint was sealed off and both teams dug in their collective heals.  Winters could have hung it up and just ambled through the rest of the game but they stood tall and took the best Miles had to give. Miles’ physical play didn’t intimidate the Lady Blizzards, if anything it strengthened their resolve.

  Miles Skyler Brooks led charge after charge, coming down the court with the ball at top speed, trying to outrun and outplay the Winters defense. Tycie Lange took short jumpers, Hailey Smith would pass a player open and took the reins of quarterbacking a lot of the game along with Brooks. Lady Blizzards junior Marley Smith was everywhere. She was inside, outside, beyond the arc, taking short jumpers and bulldogging her way to the basket for layups. Winters’ Jezebel Gonzalez and Skylar Lee were always working to get open and taking shots, making many of them. Their work was coordinated and they played as hard as any team has ever played.

  Winters had clawed their way back in when Miles took a shot and made the score 53-50. Lady Blizzards coach Brandon Postell called a timeout with 2 seconds on the clock. When Winters went to inbound the pass it was knocked out of bounds by Miles, leaving 1.6 seconds on the clock. Winters inbounded the pass and it was caught on a long pass to the far side of the court where a player took a successful shot from about 12’. Unfortunately it was a two-point shot instead of a 3-point shot so the Lady Blizzards fell by a score of 53-52. But, they never gave up. They never quit. Miles took the best they had and ground out a win in a game that could have quickly gone either way. Both teams deserve credit for the way they played.

Blizzards defeat Bulldogs 59-56

Another thrilling game followed the varsity girls with the varsity boys clashing in a hard-fought game that was physical, with almost every shot contested. The Blizzards were led by #51 junior Hunter Duggan at center. At 6’3”, 260 lbs, Duggan is a force that must be reckoned with when players try to come in for easy layups. Duggan blocked shots and was deadly shooting short jumpers on the other end of the court. #35 senior Cameron Perkins, #21 junior Alex Salas and #22 Trent Hamilton handled the high flying Bulldogs. Perkins is 6’3” 240 lbs, Salas is 6’ at 160 lbs and Hamilton is 6’1” at 190 lbs. Hamilton is a freshman but has some obvious skills on the court and is fearless. He battles for the ball and never takes a play off. The combination of Perkins and Salas were too much of a dynamic duo for the Bulldogs to take down. Miles senior and team co-captain #10 Kuail Kraatz is 6’2 at 180 lbs and has staked out ownership in the paint throughout the season. He’s been a dominating under the basket all season. Kraatz is an excellent rebounder, especially on offensive rebounds. His inside play caused the Blizzards to have to take short pull-up jumpers with few layups being successful. But Salas’ shooting and Perkins’ dominance with Duggan on Kraatz on the inside were too much for the Bulldogs.  Miles key players showed up as usual and put forth a strong effort with senior guard Mason Bryan, senior guard and co-captain Sterling Barker, senior guard and co-captain Tanner Gilbert and junior guard Davian Martinez making buckets but in the end it wasn’t enough. Fouls added up and Winters made a good percentage of their foul shots. When it was all over Miles fell but the effort they put forth was commendable. Indeed, both teams stepped up and played some off the hardest, most physical basketball of the year, which is Miles’ style.

  All in all it was an exciting Friday night in the gymnasium at Winters High School. The varsity games were entertaining and had the fans fired up the entire time. The referees did a good job of officiating the game and called fouls fairly and equally. The officials allowing the kids to play aggressive basketball was the main contributor to the excitement. Heavy-handed officials can slow a game down and put a damper on energy but the officials at those games didn’t do that, they did a great job.