Trinidad High School Miners girls and boys basketball teams have had a rough first half of the winter sports season. Lady Miners head coach Ipek Turkyilmaz and boys head coach David Harnish have shared similar frustrations about their respective teams. Lack of focus, lack of effort, lack of leadership and a lack of attention to detail has plagued both boys and girls squads that have challenged league teams often far taller, more athletic and more mature as basketball programs. Last Tuesday’s, Jan. 9 Miners basketball games were prime examples of both coaches worrisome frustrations. Both teams arriving at a point in the season where box scores and individual stats become irrelevant, and progress ahead alone during a rough season paramount.
On Jan. 11, both teams threw those fair team characterizations to the wind blasting off the court as the THS Miners greeted the Lamar H.S. Savages at Donnelly Gym, the Lady Miners falling 20-60 and the boys 60-64.
At first glance, the scores alone may make the minds of many believe the Miners remain as the coaches observed. That assumption would be a profound mistake as Miners basketball rediscovered well oiled grit, unlimited guts, and a truly palpable passion for the game of basketball.
Thursday evening at Donnelly Gym opened with the Lady Miners facing what may very well be the finest girls basketball program in the state, the Lamar Savages. The Savages have been graced with six foot junior student-athlete No.11 Brecken Payne, six-foot three-inch sophomore No. 13 Maddie Williams and six-foot three-inch current NCAA Div. 1 prospect and future 2017-2018 All-State center No. 22 Cali Clark. An extremely tall and athletic team core to compliment a very well disciplined, prosperous state level girls basketball program.
And in a reverse of last Tuesday night’s performance versus Sanford, the Lady Miners absolutely could care less for Lamar’s basketball acumen. Lady Miners sophomore student-athlete No. 31 Julia Holden continued to be less than impressed with any girls basketball team to arrive on home parquet, let alone the Savages. Holden spent the bulk of Thursdays game versus the Savages peeling hardwood off the lower Florida Keys, as Holden fought with purposeful tenacity and absolute physical commitment to deny the three six footers from Lamar any easy opportunity downtown to closet a bucket. Holden was able to capture multiple rebounds and provide multiple fast break opportunities pursued with passionate round ball gusto by Lady Miners senior student-athlete No. 12 Frieda Ochao and sophomore student-athlete No. 5 Justis Dionisio.
Ochoa and Dionisio shared floor leadership duties as both student-athletes filled passing lanes for interceptions, provided a stiff, Velcro assisted press defense and setting the up and back pursuit standards for the balance of the Lady Miners to follow. Lady Miners senior student-athlete No. 25 Kaylee Chavez again had a fundamentally sound game, carrying the newly appreciated passion for basketball that the rest of the Lady Miners shared with glee. Chavez worked heavy court music to the breaking point, falling to injury late in the fourth period. And Lady Miners junior student-athletes No. 15 Jasmine Abeyta and No. 50 Gabriela Peraza rounded out a full team effort of passionately played basketball with a punctuated ,”GET OUTTA HERE!” effort on both ends of the THS hardwood.
When asked, Turkyilmaz shared pride and respect for the Lady Miner top shelf effort, guts and discovered passion for the game, sharing a strong ‘effort’ offered more shot opportunities, and the teams aggression delivered a better defense despite the 20-60 score. The Lady Miners also began to find the benefit of running a clean offensive wheelhouse where the offense sets up scoring opportunity through passing around the outer edge of the three point line, forcing open, good looks for shots to the bucket.
The Miner boys basketball team followed the passion delivered by the Lady Miners in the previous game by raising their own performance standards to meet and greet the evenings blossoming athletic fury.
The Lamar Savages unloaded their team transport with six foot six inch senior student-athlete No.42 Brock Murphy, causing the buses leaf springs to groan in agony. Murphy possibly the tallest and most athletically endowed center in league play. With the rest of the Savage boys basketball team complimenting Murphy’s athleticism with their own.
The Miners boys hoops team was not impressed. Coming of a less that acceptable performance against Sanford last Tuesday, the Miner boys hoops team reversed the course of a season gone wrong to one of grit, guts and passion for the game, regardless of the opponent or court played, or what the team record lists.
A product of the Miners newly found pure passion for hoops, seven first half three point cruise missiles launched from parts unknown by Miners Missile Command personnel No.20 Isaiah Garcia and No.12 DJ Chongway for two strikes each with No. 40 Justin Gonzales pummeling the frontlines with three direct hits. A three point performance alone that kept the Miners in the game throughout the first half. And a strong Miner team shooting average that lasted the entire game.
As the three-point line began to dry up, the Miners moved hoops indoors and absolutely shut down with fearless discipline Savage No. 42 Murphy, forcing the giant among men to get rim stuffed on a dunk attempt, lose his ability to shoot outside, and be swarmed to ridiculous turnover status by an incredibly oppressive press defense by the Miners on the Savage baseline. Brock saw more grit and grimy covered hands in his desperate face than leather balls in the bucket. And as a result, the Miners gained fast break opportunities that ended in high percentage two point jump shots and even higher percentage dishes for deuces of glass inside.
Miners senior student-athlete No. 5 Isaiah Vigil finally accepted his natural role as Miners boys hoops floor commander, bringing a much needed source of transition leadership lacking in Miners play thru Thursday nights game. Vigil seems to enjoy the role as team leader, commanding the wheelhouse from the centers position, running a complete five-slamma-jamma dominance program from the painted key space below the Savage bucket. Not just fearless in defensive attack, Vigil is beginning to have brief moments of mature composer in his game, allowing the balance the team to enjoy more assists and better shot looks to the bucket. With Harnish showing appreciation and respect for sound floor leadership provided by Vigil and the max effort offered by the entire Miner boys hoops team.
Though both THS Miner girls and boys basketball teams lost their respective games 20-60 and 60-64 Thursday night against Lamar H.S. at Donnelly Gym, everyone in attendance saw two different teams from what all have experienced during the first half of the 2017-2018 winter sports season.
A THS Miner basketball program stocked with rediscovered grit, copious amounts of guts and a truly felt passion for the game of basketball.