By DAN FOX
Girls push to reconfigure the Winfield offense at the basketball season’s midway point
Silex’s Lady Owls pulled a victory over Winfield’s girls in both teams’ last game before Christmas.
It was a tough fight for the Lady Warriors, but though the night was lost 44-27, Winfield coach Tim Smith noted a number of individual victories amongst the players.
Winfield headed into the Clopton tourney this week in a hard spot – the team is out senior Bre Burkemper due to an injury, and the team’s 6-foot offensive staple Gabby Roberts moved to another state mid-season.
“It’s a big, big loss for us,” Smith said. “She [Roberts] was a starter and a freshman, so she would have been a starter for the foreseeable future. So we’re currently making adjustments, which we started to do, and then the second practice after we were putting in a new offense, Bre got injured.”
The losses have left the Lady Warriors bench looking pretty thin, but the gaps in the roster are giving space for other players, like Chloe Kaimann, to shine.
“Chloe has taken on a lot of responsibility, she’s basically shooting guard, co-point guard, gets our rebounds,” Smith said. “She had a double-double that game [against Silex] with 11 points and 11 rebounds. I just can’t take her out of the game either.”
Freshman Lei Ford is another young player that’s been starting in games and has been making leaps forward.
“She works hard too, she does skill training on the weekends, she’s a good athlete, she’s picking things up very, very quickly,” Smith said.
The beauty of a smaller lineup is that everyone needs to contribute, so Smith said he’s been focusing on a new player each day and teaching them a new position for offense. Winfield had actually matched Silex point-for-point through the first half of the Dec. 20 game, but the low body count began to take its toll after halftime, and the Lady Owls didn’t miss the chance to break off a good lead.
“We had them all four quarters,” Smith said. “Every single quarter they took the shots we wanted them to take, so their first shot was exactly what we wanted and they were missing a lot of them, but we just couldn’t get the rebounds because we were tired and they were bigger.” Every game is going to be an experiment for the Lady Warriors, a mantra that will hold true as Winfield continues to play in the Clopton Invitational this week. The goal is to learn from every one of these experiments, and fix mistakes that happen during the games.
“If we’re not learning from the games, not learning from our mistakes, then that’ll be a loss,” Smith said. “I’m not even really looking at the scoreboard right now, it’s just about progression.”
With Burkemper out and Audrey Wehde as the sole other upperclassmen, Smith said he wants to keep the girls focused on the specific accomplishments and improvements they are making, rather than wins and losses.
“That’s the main thing, if I see they’re learning and having fun, that’s a win,” Smith said. “If they’re getting discouraged and not learning, then that’s a loss.”
Winfield took on Elsberry on Sat. 29 in the Clopton tourney, and will move on to its next match on Jan. 2.