By DAN FOX
Winfield has been running its boys basketball team through a number of games leading up to the winter break, with bouts on Dec. 6, 14, 15, 18 and 20. The team is off until Jan. 1, where the Warriors will then head to Clopton for that school’s tournament.
The Dec. 6 bout against Wellsville was a “barn burner,” coach Bryan Keim said, with Wellsville putting up fierce opposition, though Winfield was able to win the day 76-67.
“I have to give them credit, I was hoping our full-court pressure would wear them out sooner in the game and allow us to pull away in the second half, but that wasn’t the case,” Keim said in an email. “They had the lead heading into the fourth quarter. Thankfully our seniors stepped up and knocked down some big shots and made enough plays to take the lead and finish out the game.”
Keim said he was pleased with the amount of possessions the Warriors had in that game, but added that the team needs to become more efficient when they have the ball. The team’s back-to-back Dec. 14-15 games were tough, with a loss 68-49 against St. Charles on Dec. 14 starting out the weekend.
Despite the final score, however, Keim spoke highly of his players, saying Winfield fought hard to recover, closing the gap to six points in the third quarter.
“When you’ve been trailing the whole game you have to try to make a comeback at some point so we gambled more in the fourth and St. Charles took advantage of it,” Keim said. “They’ve got a couple of really good players on their team and one big guy inside that we had no match for. Our guys battled all night trying to keep him off the boards and away from the rim, but he did a good job of using his size to his advantage.”
Winfield’s Dec. 15 loss to Normandy was a “tough pill to swallow,” Keim said; the Warriors came hot out of the gates with a strong first quarter, but things got rocky as the game progressed.
“I didn’t do a good job of keeping fresh legs on the floor and we got tired and started turning the ball over which led to a lot of transition points for Normandy,” Keim said. On Dec. 18 the boys took their game on the road to St. Dominic, where the Warriors put in a hard fight against the Crusaders.
Keim said it took time in the first two quarters of that game to get accustomed to St. Dominic’s length and the pressure in their zone.
“We tried to do some things defensively to disrupt their offense, but they did a good job of handling our traps and knocking down shots early on,” Keim said. “ We made a few too many live-ball turnovers which led to some easy buckets for Dominic and that’s how they got up 12 at halftime.”
With a minute left on the clock in the third, St. Dominic’s lead had shrunk to a mere six points, and it seemed like the Warriors were about to turn the whole game around.
The Crusaders rebounded, however, ending the third quarter 49-40, and kept their lead in the double-digits through the rest of the game.
Keim said the Winfield boys team needs to strengthen defensive communication, avoid simple mistakes and poor decisions when holding the ball.
However Keim added that the Warriors have really bought into their new style of high-speed play, and are getting a good handle on the intricacies of playing a faster tempo game.
“The last four games were a tough stretch against quality opponents,” Keim said. “We learned a lot from ourselves during that stretch and will use it moving forward. We are a better team now and I’m excited to see what we look like moving forward.”