The Miles Bulldogs (10-12, 3-2 district) hosted the Winters Blizzards (7-16, 2-3 district) on January 31st and sent the Blizzards home with a loss. The Blizzards came in with a 2-game losing streak, their most recent loss to Christoval by the score of 57-26. Miles was coming off a 45-37 loss to Forsan on January 28th. The Blizzards season has been up and down, with them defeating the teams that they are expected to defeat, such as Grape Creek (twice), Water Valley, Colorado City and Hico and falling to teams under-500 such as Coleman and Sweetwater. They did find a way to grind their way to a win over Eldorado 61-52 on January 17th.

Miles has defeated some hefty competition along the way this season, including powerhouse Eden, who is 15-5 on the season, by the score of 49-38. They followed that up with an 89-45 drubbing of Menard. That winning streak stretched out to 4 games as the Bulldogs took down Bronte, 59-18 and Grape Creek, 56-40. They then dropped a game to 24-0 Irion County, which has become a beast beginning with last season. The Bulldogs had a 3-3 January record before their Blizzards matchup.

Winters and Miles always dig deep and bring out the best efforts, respectively. It goes without saying that both teams leave everything on the court, always playing with a ferocity. Both teams’ game plan lasts for about the 1st period, then it’s adjustments and coaching up the players for the rest of the game. Their games against each other are usually a tale of two halves.

The game on Friday, January 31st, had the Blizzards jumping out to an 8-1 lead on some solid offensive play and a defense that smothered every Bulldog player who had the ball. The biggest issue for Miles in that 1st period was their passing game. They tried some lengthy passes that the Blizzards stole 3 times. They broke up another 3 passes, just in that 1st period.

Miles had to make adjustments to stop the avalanche the Blizzards were bringing down on them. Miles scored their 2nd bucket of the game with just over 3 minutes to go in the period and followed that with another quick bucket to cut the Winters lead to 8-5. Miles then dropped in a 3-point shot to tie the game at 8-8 with 2:20 to go in the period. Winters took the lead again 10-8. A short 90 seconds after that the Bulldogs hit another shot to tie the game at 10-10. By this point, Miles had 3 fouls to Winters’ 5 fouls. Miles briefly took an 11-10 lead when senior guard #12 Reagan Briley hit 1 of 2 free throws. Winters hit a shot before the end of the period to go into the 2nd period with a 12-11 lead. You knew at that point that this game was going to be a blow-for-blow slugfest.

The Blizzards again got off to a hot start in the second period, increasing their lead to 16-11. Miles fought back and narrowed the lead to 16-13, which is where the score stayed for almost 3 minutes as both teams stepped up their defense. Miles had stopped attempting long, across-the-court passes by this point. In basketball, just as in football, you can “pass a player open”, which is what Miles started doing. It also led to them getting open shots since, in most cases, you’re never more open than you are when you catch the pass.

The points started adding up as the offense stepped up in the last half of the period. Miles cut the lead to 16-15 and Winters answered with a 3-point shot to take the score to 19-16. The teams traded baskets and soon the score sat at 23-20, Winters still leading, but Miles coming on strong. Miles then tied the game at 23-23 on a 2-point shot and a free throw. The period ended with Winters regaining a slim lead, 24-23. The fouls at this point were 8 for Miles and 10 for Winters.

The 3rd period started with Miles taking a 25-23 lead and the period was fast and furious. Winters regained a 26-25 lead on a free throw. The game went back and forth for the next few minutes. Miles took a 27-26 lead, followed by Winters taking a 28-27 lead. Miles took a 29-28 lead on a layup by senior guard #1 Davian Martinez. Winters answered the call yet again and took a 30-29 lead on a bucket by senior guard #21 Alex Salas. Miles junior guard, #3 Gavin Martinez, hit 1 of 2 free throws to tie the game at 30 apiece. Once again Winters answered and took a 32-30 lead. Miles senor guard #20 Stihl Hoffman then made a flying layup to tie the score at 32-32 and end the 3rd period.

The 4th period was all Bulldogs as Miles coach Kully Hoffpauir vehemently implored his team to step up their defense. The players responded to their coach and their increased defensive pressure caused Blizzard turnovers and created open shots on the other end of the floor for the Bulldogs. Both Davian and Gavin Martinez, along with Hoffman, led several breakaway plays that ended with them scoring on layups.

The Bulldogs had a 37-32 lead in the blink of an eye, but they weren’t done. The Bulldogs’ #15 Shelton Petrey once again scored repeatedly in the paint. Petrey is tall and slim but didn’t let the larger framed Blizzard center use his strength and size advantage. Even as a freshman Petrey has technical skill at the position and isn’t afraid to put up shots. Petrey’s ability to move in the paint and find a way to get open led to him making several shots. Winters dropped in a 3-point shot to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 37-35.

With 4:45 to go in the game, the Bulldogs had a 41-36 advantage when coach Hoffpauir called a timeout, sensing the urgency to put the Blizzards away before they could make a comeback. It had been a long game by the point but both teams were finding their second wind.

The Bulldogs once again responded and increased their lead 44-36 with 3:18 to go in the game. The Blizzards continued to fight back and cut the lead to 44-38 with 2:47. Miles added another free throw by Davian Martinez, taking the score to 45-38.

The Miles defense stepped up and stopped Winters on their next possession, then scored on another layup, bringing the score to 47-38. Davian Martinez added another free throw and increased the lead to 10 points. With 90 seconds to go in the game the Blizzards hit a short jumper to cut the lead to 48-40. It was Petrey’s turn to go to the free throw line where he hit 1 of 2 and increased the lead, 49-40. The Bulldogs once again held the Blizzards without a basket on the next possession. The Blizzards then fouled Gavin Martinez, who added the final point to the game and ended it at 50-40.

Both teams fought tenaciously throughout the game and both had several highlight moments. One was when the Blizzards junior guard, #3 Malakye Kelly, was bringing the ball up the floor and crossed up Davian Martinez, who ended up on his backside as Kelly went by him. It was 2 periods later when the Bulldogs freshman guard, #21 Carsen Ellison, did the same thing to Kelly. Ellison brought the bull up the court and executed a crossover dribble that would cross your eyes just as Kelly had visions of stealing the ball. It left Ellison on his way to the basket as Kelly got his bearings back. Davian Martinez once again proved to be the heart and soul of the team but, the usual suspects; Hoffman, Gavin Martinez, Briley and Petrey once again showed that any one of them are capable of leading the team.

The Blizzards, led by junior guard #21 Alex Salas, as well as Kelly, sophomore guard #1 Jon Kullen Busher, and senior guard #10 Peyton Anderson were solid on defense and executed well on offense. The Blizzards sophomore guard Chaney Bahlman had a great game as well. Busher and Bahlman blanketed the Bulldogs and broke up several of the Bulldogs’ fast breaks. The Blizzards have 3 seniors; Anderson, #23 S’emajae Jackson and Hunter Duggan and they have a good supporting cast, including their 2 juniors and 4 sophomores. They also have some size with #22 Trent Hamilton standing 6’1”, Bahlman at 6’1”, Salas at 6’ and Duggan at 6’3”, all of them with a few years of growing still ahead.

The Bulldogs will travel to face the (16-10, 5-0 district) Christoval Cougars on February 4th while Winters will host (12-10, 2-3 district )Eldorado Eagles.