On Tuesday, February 11th, the Miles Lady Bulldogs (11-17, 3-6 in district) hosted and defeated the Ozona Lady Lions (9-17, 0-7 in district) in a convincing manner, 59-41.

The Lady Bulldogs came into the game with their playoff picture not set. The playoff picture would depend on if Miles defeated Ozona and if Winters defeated Forsan. A win by both teams would end up in a “play-in”, where Winters and Miles would meet to determine who advances to the playoffs.

The Miles girls knew what was on the line and played like their playoff life depended on it. The Lady Dogs played solid and there weren’t many chinks in their armor. Miles’ #13 Tycie Lange, #21 Skyler Brooks, #12 Alexa Schwertner, #22 Allie Kalina and #33 Regan Smithwick started off the game with a purpose. The girls didn’t want to give Ozona any chance to steal a win or let them even think that they could come away with a win.

The Lady Bulldogs put up 5 points in the first 90 seconds. Miles would never relinquish their lead in the game. Ozona scored on a short jump shot and made the score 5-2. Miles then put 5 more points on the board while Ozona doubled their point total to 4 to give miles a 10-4 lead. The 1st period would end with Miles leading the Lions by the score of 17-6. The fouls in the period began adding up for both teams, with Miles totaling 3 fouls to Ozona’s 4 fouls.

The 2nd period would be more Miles as they extended their lead to 29-17 with less than 2 minutes to go in the half. The fouls continued adding up, with both teams now having 7 each. Ozona, led by junior point guard Shelby Galindo #1, fought back and cut the lead to 29-20 by halftime. Galindo played almost the entire game, leading her team in one comeback attempt after another.

In the 2nd half the Lady Dogs picked up where they had left off, scoring 5 points in a short span of time. By the time 3 minutes had elapsed in the period, the Lady Dogs were leading the Lady Lions, 34-22. The 3rd period would come to an end with Miles cruising to a 42-25 lead. But the Lady Dogs weren’t done.

Miles would begin the 4th period by extending their lead to 47-25 in the blink of an eye. Schwertner knocked down some 3s and Brooks drove hard inside time after time. If she didn’t make the basket, she drew a foul. Ozona had bad luck when several shots rimmed out of the basket. To their credit, the Lady Lions never gave up and ended up putting 16 points on the board in the period. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to slow down the Lady Dogs who took the game 59-41.

Once again, the Lady Dogs fast-paced play and their willingness to play physical forced Ozona into having to foul to try and slow Miles’ frenetic pace. One key aspect of this game was Miles’ senior shooting guard, Lange, getting rebound after rebound. She regularly got boards on offense and defense, playing in the middle of the paint and was always around the rim. In the 1st period alone she pulled down 6 rebounds. She also stole the ball several times throughout the game.

If you have a weakness, the Miles Lady Dogs will find it and exploit it. When it comes to playing hard, they’re more Mike Tyson than Muhammad Ali. They aren’t going to shuck and jive you because they know that they have the advantage in a slugfest. They’ll pound the ball inside repeatedly, regardless of how physical the other team is playing. The girls play-to-contact, where they’re going to get to the basket and score some points or they’re going to draw a foul and get to the free-throw line. Just when the other team starts cutting off the lane to the basket, Schwertner, Crocker or Lange will start knocking down 3-point shots and short jumpers. When you play the Lady Dogs, you have to decide before the game begins that you’re going to beat them. If you aren’t in that 100% winning mindset, you’re going to leave town disappointed.

The Ozona weakness was their passing game. The Lady Lions attempted soft pass after soft pass that Lange, Schwertner, Kylie Crocker and Brooks broke up or intercepted time and time again. When Ozona tried bounce passes, the Lady Dogs were ready for them and broke those up as well. This prevented the Lady Lions from getting any easy points on fast breaks. In all, Ozona only had 5 fast break opportunities in the game. If you can’t move the ball, you can’t shoot the ball. The passing issues for Ozona were brought on by solid Miles’ defensive play. The girls cut off the passing lanes and the shooting lanes, forcing the Lady Lions into taking low-percentage shots. Lady Dogs power foward, Smithwick, is becoming a force in the paint when she posts up. Her game is evolving every time they take the floor and the sophomore is going to cause other teams a lot of heartache in the next 2 years.

The game was a solid, all-around performance by the Lady Bulldogs. Their coach, Jim Eubank, spoke afterwards, “I found out just a while ago that Winters has upset Forsan so we’re looking at a play-in with Winters on Friday. This was an exciting game, the girls played well and I’m proud of them. We’re finally back up to strength with Allie (Kalina) back because she’s a huge contributor. It’s great to be back at full strength and we’ll just have to get with Winters and go from there.” Kalina missed some games with a concussion and this was her first game back.

Miles defeated Winters, 55-49, on January 14th and defeated them again 2 weeks later on January 31st, 55-47. Eubank isn’t expecting the game on Friday to be easy, “This game is a fickle game. You never know from one time to the next what is going to happen. The girls are still trying to learn my system of what we do and what we like to try to do. And that’s the biggest challenge of anything. When you get a late start because you did so well in volleyball, which is a great thing, it makes the learning curve a little harder and takes things a little longer to kick in. I like tour best basketball is still in front of us.”

Miles and Winters will meet for their play-in game at 7:15 p.m. in Blackwell on Valentine’s Day, February 14th. There is no love loss between these two teams and it should be a physical, competitive game. If you only go to one basketball game this week, this is the one you should go to. The matchup of Winters senior point guard Marley Smith against Miles’ Skyler Brooks alone will be worth the ticket price. Add in Schwertner against Winters’ Jezebel Gonzalez, and Lange against the Blizzards Karlee Busher and you have a great Friday night matchup, a game worthy of the hype.