Blizzards win as Lady Blizzards fall to Colorado (City)
The Winters Blizzards (17-4, 5-1) hosted the Colorado (City) Wolves (7-9, 3-3) in a district game on Friday night. It was a hard fought game, but the Blizzards emerged as the winners for the second time in 2 weeks. The Blizzards went into Colorado on January 5th and came away with a 41-29 win. Colorado has 3 district losses, 2 of them coming at the hands of the Blizzards.
The Blizzards hit the court running from tip off to the final buzzer. They have a high octane style of play that is led by first year head coach Colton Holmes. Once the Blizzards started the scoring, they never looked back. They led 14-3 just over halfway into the first period. The Wolves would go on a run, battling back to cut the Blizzards' lead to 14-10. The Blizzards put on the jets and increased their lead, 19-10. Their defense causing miscues and turnovers by Colorado.
Winters had several open looks with high percentage shots due to their play on defense. Each time a Colorado player had the ball, he was bracketed by two Blizzards players. The defense was tight, not giving the player with the ball any room to move or find a clean passing lane. This resulted in several turnovers that turned into fast breaks for the Blizzards.
With Winters it was the usual suspects causing havoc for the Wolves. Senior Alex Salas is a dependable shooter who can use his speed and agility to get to the basket quickly. Jon Kullen Busher is the lightning rod, often the player who is initiating the fast break and directing plays on the floor.
Aidan Leamon has had a breakout season, becoming a powerful player when he's in the lane. But, he's also capable of pulling up and knocking down a short jumper. Chaney Bahlman owns the paint under the basket, doing a fine job of getting in good position and blocking out other players. Mason Crowe has also become a dependable shooter, particularly from long range. The supporting cast of Dayvin Oats, Malakye Kelly and Trent Hamilton are just as depended and talented as the starters.
Having a talented team with athletic players who get the fundamentals down is just one aspect of the game. Coach Holmes is a great game manager. The team makes changes on the fly, but always get back to their basics when they start getting into a bind. Their team also makes sharp passes, refusing to throw those long cross-court passes that other teams tend to try to make and that are usually intercepted.
The Blizzards always keep good ball control throughout their games. They don't make silly mistakes with the ball. On defense, they are excellent at creating turnovers by breaking up the plays of the opposing offense. They are in the plus category in turnovers in almost ever game, as well as in rebounds, both offensive and defensive..
Perhaps their greatest game is their patience. They don't try to force the action. If the other team gets a run going, the Blizzards don't get flustered and start making mistakes. They're patient, get their offense set and don't let the game get ahead of them.
This game wasn't as high scoring as some of their most recent ones, but it was closer than the 41-29 win that the Blizzards took home against the Wolves on January 5th. The 49-44 win on Friday was just another tune up game for playoffs with 4 regular season district games to go. Winters currently sits atop the district. They've scored 1,047 points on the season (including the Colorado game). The next closest team is Forsan, with 903 points.
The Blizzards are not only a contender this year, but they have a bright future with only 2 seniors graduating in May; Salas and Kelly.
Lady Blizzards tumble to Wolves
It was another difficult game for the Lady Blizzards as they fell, 61-19, to Colorado. The team is young and still trying to find the best lineup while they work on their cohesion. Wile a 61-19 loss might seem concerning, it was anything but disheartening.
The girls kept the game tight and even tied the score during the second period. They were doing several things well. Point Guard Kacie Lindley was using her quickness and speed to break up passes and then start a fast break to the other end of the court; Senior Laken Green knocked down a couple of 3-pointers; Freshman Maelynn Gonzalez was able to penetrate and get some shots in the paint; senior point guard Querstin Lara showed leadership in directing action.
The team is coming together, it's just that they have to work through the growing pains. As painful as this season seems, they have made improvements all along the way. The players are working on learning each others' instincts and tendencies so they know where a given player will be even if the can't see her.
While the present might not seem so bright, they surely have a bright future once those girls have a summer together without COVID interfering with their practice times. They could simply be "going through the motions" at this point in their season, but they aren't. They're playing hard every game. Even in this game, in the 4th period when all hope of a win was lost, Lindley and the team were playing faster and tighter defense. They didn't let the moment get away from them. That kind of play and that kind of heart bodes well for the future of the team.