Monday, February 24th brought an end to the Miles Bulldogs basketball season. The Bulldogs fell to the Stamford Bulldogs by the score of 50-34 in their first round playoff game in Coleman.

Miles (12-15, 5-5 in district) came into the game against Stamford (26-7, 10-0 in district) as the underdogs in a Bulldogs showdown. Miles was playing a Stamford team that has two players who stand well over 6’5”; senior center Austin Brewer #2 and senior power forward Trace Price #23, while Miles only has freshman forward Shelton Petrey #15 who stands close to 6’3”. The game was controlled by Stamford in all but the first period.

It wasn’t a Miles Bulldogs’ type of game, where they go in moving to contact while grinding out buckets. Stamford is more of a finesse team, allowing their height advantage and speed advantage to do most of their work. The 1st period saw the lead seesaw back and forth between the Bulldog teams. Miles was able to get some buckets off of jump shots and a couple of layups, while challenging Stamford in the paint on defense.

The 1st period ended with Stamford up 12-10 over the Miles squad. In the 2nd period Stamford would begin pulling away even as Miles continued to try to keep pace. Miles was able to get some get jump shots and an important 3-pointer to stay within striking distance of Stamford. The Stamford team was simply too fast and played a rhythmic game. Stamford didn’t play physical and this left Miles trying to keep up with a team built around speed. By the end of the 2nd period the score was 25-15. The Stamford defense only allowed 5 points in that period while they put up 13 points of their own. The other key to the game is that Stamford didn’t make a lot of fouls and kept Miles from the free throw line for the most part.

As the teams left the floor for halftime, the Stamford coach told his assistant coach, “We’re 5 of 12 of free throws and 10 of 20 inside the arc. We should be up by 30 points.” Those words would prove to be prophetic when the game was said and done.

In the 3rd period, Stamford came out playing even faster than they had in the first 2 periods. One of the key weaknesses for the Miles team was getting back down the floor on defense. There were several Stamford passes that were almost the length of the court. The Stamford player inbounding the ball was able to hit another player standing alone under their net at the other end of the court. The Miles squad’s Achilles Heel was offensive rebounds, which is where Stamford dominated them. The height advantage and wing span advantage of Brewer and Price was crucial to Stamford regularly pulling down rebounds.

The 3rd period ended with Stamford having a commanding lead, 39-24. The Stamford defense once again held Miles to single-digit points in that period. Miles didn’t back down though and they played hard in the 4th period, scoring 10 points to Stamford’s 11 points. Stamford took the game with a convincing 50-34 win.

The game was better than might be indicated by the score. It was 2 completely different teams, playing 2 completely different styles of basketball. At times Stamford was hitting on all cylinders and would make graceful layups on the other end of the court. Miles fought hard to get inside the paint and their grinding style of basketball did wear down the Stamford team in the 4th period.

One primary reason that the Miles team fell is that their jump shots weren’t falling. But, it’s hard to shoot over a 6’5” or 6’6” player when you’re 5’10” and he’s not giving you more than 1’ of space. Pulling the ball down and going the defender into the paint didn’t help because Stamford crowded the paint and when the Miles player pulled up for a short jumper, the 6’5” player he just dribbled around only had to turn and extend his arms to block the shot from behind the shooter.

The only way Miles was going to win this game was to hammer the paint and either get baskets or get fouled for free throws. They tried to outpace the Stamford squad but Stamford was faster. But yet, even then, the Miles team kept pace in the first period. They played with heart and soul and tried everything possible to win the game. When they were getting blocked out in the paint, they tried short jumpers, when that didn’t work, they tried 3-point shots, when that didn’t work they powered in to key for layups or attempted jump shots. Even though they lost, Miles did everything you want to see your team do to try and win.

This was the last basketball game for Miles seniors Davian Martinez, Jose’ Mata, Colton Wells, Reagan Briley and Stihl Hoffman. It has been a pleasure watching them play basketball at such a high level over the last couple of years. They always played the game right and they always played the game hard, relentlessly pushing their individual and team game to the next level. They always left everything that they had on the court. We wish them well in the next chapter of the respective lives when they graduate in May.