The Winters Blizzards (8-16, 3-3 in district) were coming off of a tough 50-40 loss against Miles on Friday, January 31st. The schedule didn’t get any easier for them when they hosted the Eldorado Eagles (12-1, 2-4 in district) on February 4th. The Blizzards showed deep resolve as they fought their way to victory against a tough Eldorado team to end a 3-game losing streak.
Winters came into the game trying to shore up their game and stop the 3-game skid that began with a loss on January 24th to Forsan, 47-40, followed by a loss to Christoval, 57-26 on January 28th, and the aforementioned loss to Miles. The Blizzards have shown that they can defeat even the best teams when all of their pieces fall into place. They would need every bit of their resolve and toughness to stop the Eagles.
The game started with both teams trading buckets and playing staunch defense. Midway through the 1st period, the game was tied at 4-4. The teams continued to play each other tough but each team made adjustments and were able to start getting some shots to drop. The score would swing back and forth throughout the period with one team taking the lead and then the other team coming back to take the lead. It was an intense start to a game that showcased what Winters can do when they have to find another level within themselves.
The 1st period ended with Eldorado up by the score of 12-10. The game was fast paced and there were no easy baskets. The intense play continued into the 2nd period as each team continued to try and assert themselves physically. The lead continued to seesaw with Eldorado taking a 14-12 lead, followed by the teams tying the score at 19 apiece and then the Blizzards taking a 20-19 lead. The Eagles would fight back and make a 3-point shot to take a 22-20 lead. Eldorado took a 28-23 lead with 2 minutes to go in the 2nd period and it looked like the Blizzards energy level might be waning. Once again though, Winters fought back and cut the lead to 3 points, 28-25.
The teams went into halftime with Eldorado up 32-29.
The 3rd period began with Winters and Eldorado picking up where they left off. The Eagles increased their lead to 34-29 before Winters cut it to 34-33. The Blizzards PF #15 Chaney Bahlman and guard, #21, Alex Salas led a charge that began 3 minutes into the period. Bahlman scored on a layup, followed by Salas scoring on a breakaway layup and the Blizzards suddenly had a 37-34 lead. Bahlman was solid on offense, getting several short jump shots as well as numerous layup opportunities.
The Blizzards would continue increasing their lead that was 50-47 at the end of the 3rd period.
The 4th period was more of the same; healthy doses of Salas and Bahlman as well as sophomore guard #1 Jon Kullen Busher. One of Busher’s advantages was drawing double teams that left Salas or Bahlman or junior guard #3 Malakye Kelly open.
Winters ended up only putting 8 points on the board in the 4th period but they came away with a 58-48 victory.
Salas and Bahlman were able to get behind the Eagle defense all night. Salas or Busher led most of the fast breaks with Bahlman already at the other end of the court for a layup. It forced the Eagles to play catch-up all through the second half of the game. In the 4th period Eldorado would get within striking distance of the Blizzards but would falter. At a time it seemed that Eldorado should be pushing the ball up and down the court to cut into the Blizzards’ lead, it was Winters that forced the action. Winters’ play on offence forced the Eldorado defense to foul several times to slow down the action.
The game was a true team effort for the Blizzards. While Salas, Bahlman and Busher led the action, every player on the floor contributed to the win. The Blizzards Hunter Duggan was able to box out under the basket and came down with several key rebounds on both offense and defense. Sophomore guard Trent Hamilton and senior Peyton Hamilton also played significant roles in the win.
After the game, Blizzards head basketball coach K.D. Mattox commented on the team’s play, “The spark today was that each and every individual decided within themselves, that they wanted to execute offensively and defensively. We had some mishaps but the kids adjusted at halftime to what the coaching staff put together. They played within themselves and wanted to fight to win this game at home for the crowd.”
Mattox also spoke about the team chemistry, “We have become more patient with the basketball. The communication and competition in practice has helped. We’ve even had coaches come in to play defense at practice. Each and every individual player on that court tonight decided to be patient with the basketball and not get scatter brained. They’re really coming together and understanding the game. I told them at the beginning of the year that this team has a chance to be a really great team. Athletically, this team is very gifted. The only thing that was lacking was camaraderie. These kids have started working together. Today each kid was trying to see who dresses the best at every single home game. We all dressed up. They even got me to dress up. I’m usually in sweats and a t-shirts. They’re becoming closer, becoming a family and becoming brothers.”
The Blizzards next game will be a road game against the Ozona Lions on Friday, February 7th. The Lions’ stats and win-loss record are incomplete on Max Preps but it shows them only having 1 win so far on the season and no wins in district play. Winters is currently 4th in the district.