Miles Lady Bulldogs basketball team wins thriller over Winters
Both the Winters Lady Blizzards (3-21, 1-9) and Miles Lady Bulldogs (4-1, 1-9) have had rough seasons as both teams are in the process of rebuilding. But, on Friday night, in Winters, the teams did indeed save the best for last. The game was the final game of the regular season for both teams.
The game was intense from tip off until the final buzzer. Miles traveled to Winters for the game, as did a healthy number of their fans. On both sides of the court the fans had the gym reverberating with the sounds of stomping feet and cheers. At one point it was so loud that the players couldn't hear the coach who was standing just a few feet from them. The atmosphere was electric, and the girls were fantastic, both teams. To top it off, it was senior night for the Blizzards.
Winters came into the game on a four-game skid. Their last win was on January 12, ironically, against Miles on the Lady Bulldogs' home court. Miles had lost seven games coming into Winters. Its last win was on December 19, against Bronte.
The game started off at a fast pace as both teams attempted to establish dominance on the court. The Lady Blizzards have improved drastically in one area: passing. They made sharp, short passes, not passing the ball across the court as in the past where it was usually intercepted. Miles had sophomore Natalie Fernandez on point while Winters had freshman Kacie Lindley. Fernandez has become astute at picking out weaknesses in defenses as she brings the ball up the court. Lindsey's speed and quickness resulted in her getting several turnovers. It was a great match up. Both teams played tough defense through the first period, but the offenses still had shots dropping in. At the end of the 1st period Winters was up 12-9.
The second period would see a swap, as Miles scored 12 points while Winters put up 8 points. It was like that the entire game. One team would get a lead, extend it for 5 or 6 points, then the other team would even the score on a run. Miles had the usual suspects taking shots, senior shooting guard Alexa Schwertner, junior power forward Reagan Smithwick, junior Emily Sklenarik, senior Kendall Kelly, sophomore Jessica Hinds and freshman Kaitlee Wyatt.
Both teams hit key 3-points shots when they fell behind. The Lady Blizzards' Laken Green scored 5 points in 10 seconds. She hit 2 free throws then Winters stole the ball after Miles started up the court. The ball was kicked out to green who was standing behind the arch and knocked down a nothing-but-net 3-pointer.
Miles led 21-20 at halftime. All of the Winters players were contributing. Senior point guard Querstin Lara is more than capable of directing play while bringing the ball up the court. The Lady Blizzards freshman point guard Maelynn Gonzalez, junior shooting guard Saleen Jalomo and senior point guard Lara were invaluable as they knocked down several jump shots.
Play continued at a high pace throughout the 3rd period with the teams swapping the lead. It was the Lady Blizzards who had the edge at the end of the period as they carried a 6-point lead, 36-31, into the 4th period.
Both teams continued to play tough defense in the 4th period. Instead of winding down, they were winding up, forcing the action.
The shots of both teams were contested by the defenses. There were no easy shots or open lay ups. The excitement was almost palpable as Winters held a 37-32 edge with four minutes left in the game. Miles coach Jayson Wilhelm called a timeout to formulate a game plan as both teams were in the bonus on fouls. When play resumed, the Lady Bulldogs increased the pressure, eventually tying the score at 41 apiece.
The Lady Bulldogs hit a free throw to win the game 42-41 with a few seconds remaining. Winters had a final inbound pass but the shot missed. There was a great deal of respect shown by both teams and the fans. For the seniors on both teams, it was a fantastic way to end the season.
Winters coach Brandon Postell commented after the game, "We're young. We just have to learn how to finish games. We played well but we missed 8 free throws at one point. Those free throws can win games. They've grown a lot this year, we just have to learn how to finish."