Blizzards boys varsity clinch district title
The Winters Blizzards went 11-18 overall and 6-4 in district last season, finishing 3rd in district. This season, the mighty Blizzards clinched district with a thrilling 61-60 win over the 2nd-place Coleman Bluecats to finish off the regular season on February 5. The Blizzards finish the regular season with an impressive 21-4 record overall, and a 9-1 record in district.
The Blizzards have been dominant all season, running a fast-paced game that can smother opponents before the 1st period ends. It's the Blizzards' equivalent of shock and awe.
Every player on the 8-man roster is capable of taking over the game if needed. They play a defense that often keeps opponents out of the paint denying those easy layups. Their defensive play often causes turnovers, which turn into points when the team breaks away up the court with the ball. Their transition game is second to none.
Perhaps, the greatest part of the Blizzards' game, the key intrinsic that teams seem to overlook is pretty basic; that first step. That is a linchpin to Winters' game. When they get a turnover, their first step is quicker than the offense's first step. Suddenly Jon Kullen Busher or Alex Salas are at the other end of the court putting the ball in the basket without any opposition. They get that first step on defense. Each Blizzards' player owns the territory immediately around them. If the offensive player tries to cut around or cut through traffic, the Blizzards get that first step faster than their opponent, claiming that territory. This usually results in their opponents taking a low percentage shot.
Playing defense is usually reacting to the opponents' offense. That isn't necessarily the case for the Blizzards. The team, as a whole, is proactive on defense, not allowing the other team the luxury of dictating the action. That intuitive defense has frustrated opponents time and time again all season.
What the Blizzards stop their opponents from doing on offense, is what Winters does best on offense. They're going to out-game you up and down the court. When the Blizzards have the ball they have that quick first step, faster than the defender's first step. That one, basic, step forces defenses into committing fouls and getting into foul trouble early in the game. Early fouls result in frustration. That frustration breeds doubt and desperation when it gets into the heads of their opponents.
Head coach Colton Holmes has built a team that is more dominant than any team in the district. Regardless of whether its offense, defense or the transition game, the Blizzards have held the advantage all season. Holmes coaches with class and dignity, and instills those qualities in his players. They'll dominate the game and beat you by 30-points, but they'll do it with class and style.
The team is absolutely loaded with talented players in each position. Junior Busher is an impressive all-around athlete, perhaps the best in the district. He can weave through traffic when he hits the paint and put the ball in with a layup. Senior Alex Salas is the leader, the homecoming king, the quarterback, the player who can either play point guard, shooting guard or power forward. To put it simply; he dominates. Those two are the first two problems that their opponents encounter. Busher and Salas feed off of each other, which results in the rest of the team feeding off of that energy. They are an incredible duo. When Busher is in the paint, he knows he can kick the ball out to Salas for a short jumper. Salas is deadly from any spot on the floor.
Now, throw Dayvin Oats, Malakye Kelley, Mason Crowe, Aidan Leamon, Chaney Bahlman, Alex Rodriguez and Trent Hamilton into the mix.You have players that can play effectively no matter the lineup that is being used or who is subbed in during play. Hamilton is a marksman from the arch. He plays with a quiet determination and he plays hard, not afraid to make the defenders pay for their mistakes. He's also incredibly quick for his size. Hamilton offers dependability and range when the paint is crowded. He's a junior, giving him another season to knock down those long-range shots or punish opponents inside the paint.
Malakye Kelly might be shorter than most of the players, but his heart is as big as any of them. He's smart, he's fast and he's quick with the ball. Perhaps, his greatest advantage, is in ball control and security. He rarely turns the ball over. His passing is excellent, especially considering the Blizzards are a team that is always moving. As Duke great Jay Bilas says, "The best thing you can do with the ball is to pass a player open." The key advantage to passing a player open is that it usually creates space between the player and the defender, giving the player an opportunity for an open shot. Every Blizzards player is confident in taking those shots.
Leamon is talented in many ways, in all sports. Like Busher, he's a fine all around athlete who is improving every season, in every sport. He's the only sophomore on the varsity squad and he's the future of the Blizzards team. Leamon could be the player that other teams will have to game plan around for over the next two seasons.
The juniors on the team, Busher, Oats, Crowe, Bahlman and Hamilton should excite Blizzards fans. Every one of them are intelligent players, with a strong basketball IQ. They are quick, not just quick, but Blizzards quick, with that deadly first step. You can't teach speed, but you can teach quickness, and the Blizzards, as a whole, are acing that subject.
It would be an understatement to say that coach Holmes has done an impressive job in his first season as the Blizzards' head coach. Holmes has blown their opponents away with quickness and fundamentals. As Sherlock Holmes used to say, "It's elementary, my dear Watson." If you don't have the basic fundamentals down, you have nothing to build on. Coach Holmes has taken every aspect of the game and presented in such a way that his players have bought in, heart and soul, to his coaching and leadership.
In some games, coach Holmes has done what all coaches with great teams like to do from time to time; he's let the players loose to wreak havoc on their opponents. He's not a coach that is constantly yelling from the sidelines. There have been times where the team has made a couple of mistakes in a row but coach appeared to let the players play, to realize, understand and correct their mistakes on their own. Then there are also times when coach emphatically addresses any mistakes. When coach says something from the sidelines, every player on the team makes sure that the other players know what is going on. There is very little communications breakdown with the Blizzards. They all play on the same sheet of music.
Congrats to the Winters Blizzards on clinching district. Good luck in the playoffs!