The Winters Blizzards varsity girls (14-15, 2-6 in district) had an early game on Tuesday, February 4th, due to the oncoming winter weather. Rather than playing at 6:30, their game against the Eldorado Eagles (23-9, 8-0 in district) tipped off at 4 p.m.
Eldorado has been on a tear this year, 32 games into the season with only 9 losses and currently owning an 8-game winnings streak. The Eagles have had surprising losses to teams such as the 7-17 Sterling City Eagles by the score of 39-33. The next time they played Sterling City, the Eagles won 39-13. The Eldorado defense has led the way, even in losses, such as when they lost to the Grady Wildcats (20-8) by the score of 26-19. Any offense in that game would have allowed the Eagles to come away with a win.
Holding the high scoring Grady Wildcats to 26 points was a feat in itself. So, when the Blizzards lost by a scant 3 points to the Eagles in that January 17th game, it seemed to bode well for this matchup. If the Blizzards’ offense could step up, they could rely on their defense to hold the Eagles to a low score. But, that was not to be the case, although the final score of this game was not indicative of the level of play from the Blizzards’ girls.
The start of the game was a surprise since previously Eldorado was only able to squeeze out that 40-37 victory against Winters. But, after the 1st period, you’d have thought that the game was going to be an blowout by the high-flying Eagles. The Blizzards’ shooting was as cold as the front that was moving into the area from Canada. At one point Eldorado led by the score of 5-3, but that was as close it got in that period. As a matter of fact, 3 points was all that Winters would put on the board in that first 8 minutes of play. The home crowd was silent as they watched shot after shot from the Winters ladies bounce off, above, behind or to the side of the rim. The ball landed everywhere but in the basket.
Blizzards coach Brandon Postell has a way of getting full buy-in from his players, especially when the chips are down. He has a quiet confidence that translates well to his players when he is coaching them up during a game. His calm demeanor is contagious and it would prove to be once again in this game.
The Eagles led 21-3 after the 1st period in what was shaping up to be a thrashing by Eldorado.
The 2nd period is when senior point guard Marley Smith, #23, senior shooting guard Karlee Busher and the rest of the players stepped up their game collectively and individually.
Whatever coach Postell said to them between the 1st and 2nd period was taken to heart by every Blizzards’ player. Winters would cut their way into that 18-point Eldorado lead, one basket at a time. The Blizzards defense woke up in that 2nd period and slowed down the relentless Eldorado offense considerably. Better defensive play helped their offense get some high percentage shots on the other end of the court. Busher and Smith are incredible talents with a tireless pursuit of winning. It’s obvious when both ladies are feeding off of each other during a game. Add in gifted senior shooting guard #12 Jezebel Gonzalez, who has excellent perimeter shooting, and you suddenly start causing a myriad of problems for defenses. The Blizzards’ #20, sophomore point guard McKenzie Fentress, is becoming one of the most physical players in the district. Standing at only 5’5”, she challenged every player, on both offense and defense. Her shooting is becoming consistent and she’s going to be the player that other teams have to game plan for in the next 2 years.
Winters would score 20 points in the 2nd period, compared to 10 points by Eldorado.
At halftime Eldorado led 31-23. The Eagles’ 18-point lead had been cut to 8 points in 8 minutes.
The 3rd period was closer, with Eldorado putting up 15 points to Winters’ 11 points. The Blizzards continued to fight back and challenge each Eldorado shooter, playing physical and not giving up easy baskets. Busher and Smith had an established presence in the paint, forcing Eldorado to take jump shots and perimeter shots.
The problem for Winters was that those Eldorado jump shots and perimeter shots were falling regularly.
The shots kept dropping for the Eagles in the 4th period, even though Winters continued to challenge them. Eldorado would outscore Winters 17-10 in the 4th to go home with a 63-44 win. The physical play took its toll on both teams by the time the 4th period began, but the steady shooting of Eldorado proved to be too much for the Blizzards to overcome.
Eldorado now owns a 9-game winning streak while Winters has now dropped 4 games in a row.
Next, the Blizzards will take on the Ozona Eagles (9-16, 0-6 in district). That game will be in Ozona on February 7th. The following week, on February 11th, the Blizzards will host the 13-13 (4-6 district) Forsan Buffaloes to cap off their season. The Blizzards are sitting in 5th place in the district, behind #1 Eldorado (8-0), #2 Christoval (6-1), #3 Forsan (4-3) and #4 Miles (2-6). Miles will travel to take on Eldorado on February 7th.
Winters can possibly finish 3rd or 4th in district if they can win out.