VALDOSTA –– The Valdosta State men’s and women’s basketball teams picked up two wins each last weekend ahead of their trip to the western part of the Gulf South Conference.
They’ll face Mississippi College today and Delta State on Saturday, before coming back east for the last two home games of the season.
With the playoff race intensifying, it’s time to run the floor:
The Right Time
After the win against West Georgia, Lady Blazers head coach Deandra Schirmer spoke about her team’s ability to get better with each game. They held off a late push by the Wolves to secure their second win in two days and was able to put some space in-between the teams in the playoff hunt.
They grabbed 52 rebounds in the win with 23 of those as offensive boards. Kayla Bonilla and Delaney Bernard both played all 40 minutes of the game and led the team in scoring with 20 and 18 points respectively.
If the team can continue being physical and finding ways to win, they might play themselves into a rhythm that’ll take them deep into the postseason.
In the win against West Georgia, the Lady Blazers only seven players saw game action. It’s likely that the tight rotations will continue as the season progresses with the season-ending injury to Saniah Simpson-Patu earlier this season.
Of the players that played, two posted 40 minute games; one played 31 minutes, three played 29, 28 and 20, while one played 12.
It might seem small now, but those minutes wear on the legs and bodies of players as the season gets deeper.
It’ll be a true test to see if the players are able to withstand the tighter rotations during the more competitive games.
Good, Better, Best
For the past three seasons, the Blazers have had arguably the best player in the conference. First, it was Jeremiah Hill, then Beau Justice and they may still have the best player in the league.
Clay Guillozet was named the Gulf South Conference Player of the Week for his efforts against West Georgia and Shorter.
The senior averaged 23.5 points, nine rebounds and 5.5 assists while shooting 10-of-13 from deep in the two wins.
He’s able to get into a zone where he makes plays on both side of the court and gets teammates involved while doing it.
More on this in the next point.
Vets Leading the Way
This was a point that was made by Imoras Agee and head coach Mike Helfer after the West Georgia game.
They both nodded at the “veteran players” that VSU has for leading the way this season.
VSU is on an 11-game win streak that dates back to December.
During that streak the players that were with the program last season have been leading the way.
Guillozet, Bryce Smith, Darrell Jones and Tyler Edwards have all had a positive impact on the team.
For Guillozet, Smith and Jones, they’ve been playing the best basketball of their VSU careers and able to lead newer teammates through difficult situations on the court.
But Edwards’ impact is different.
The win streak started on Dec. 19, a game that he didn’t play in with a back injury. Prior to his injury, he was the starting point guard.
During the streak, he’s been coming off the bench for the majority of games while Burke Putnam has filled the starting role.
Putnam has led the team in scoring and assists since becoming a starter –– a credit to his talent and hard work.
But also, a credit to the maturity of Edwards to make way for his teammate and still be a major part of the team.
With the veterans, coaching staff and top-tier play, they’re headed towards the post season with a rising stock and a close-knit bond.
Juston Lewis is a sports writer at the Valdosta Daily Times.