Kivett’s shot clinches BHS come-back
EUDORA In as dramatic a come-back fashion as can happen including the winning bucket rolling around the rim in an agonizing delay to impending euphoria Baldwin High School's Bulldog girls won the 2000 Cardinal Invitational Tournament here Thursday night in a thriller.
BHS trailed Spring Hill by 14-points, 44-30, with seven minutes left in the game. The Bulldogs looked to be done. But BHS went on a 16-1 tear from that point and when junior Colleen Kivett's off-balance 8-footer finally rolled around the rim and fell in as the buzzer sounded, the Bulldogs had an improbable 46-45 victory that had the purple-and-white faithful both screaming and then sighing in relief.
"Colleen just hit a huge shot," said coach Eric Toot. "She made a great play to get open and made a great move. She got the shooter's roll. No one has shot the ball as much as she has in the last two years. She stays around to shoot after everyone else has left.
"Hard work pays off," said Toot. "I was happy for her."
Although that was the indisputable capper to the night's comeback, there were plenty of chills and thrills from that seven-minute mark's 14-point deficit to the final rim-rounding shot at the buzzer.
But, more than anything, it showed what sets this group of Bulldogs apart.
"One thing I think it showed was our girls never give up and play hard," he said. "We didn't play well at the first of the game. But, they don't know how to give up. It's not in their minds.
"It's just not in their vocabulary to give up and they didn't," said Toot.
The winning rally started when 6-foot-1 freshman Emily Brown knocked down an inside shot at the 6:17 mark. Brown followed that with an 8-footer and then 5-7 sophomore Anna Skaggs chipped in the next three points with a shot and a free throw. That cut the lead in half at 44-37 with three minutes left.
Then it was senior time. Senior guard Suzie Weege took a brutal shot on a moving pick that was called a foul and sent one of Spring Hill's best players to the bench with five fouls. Weege was unable to shoot her free throws because of the nasty shot to the head. In stepped senior guard Tarin Troth who calmly sank both free throws. But Weege wasn't through by a long shot.
About a minute later, junior Jodie Bacon swished the net with a 3-pointer to pull BHS within two at 44-42 with 1:55 remaining. After a series of missed shots and turnovers, BHS fouled Spring Hill and then called time out with 46 seconds left. On the ensuing series, Weege stole the ball and went racing for a game-tying layup.
"How about Suzie Weege," Toot said. "She only had two points in the game, but they were two of the biggest points of the night. Tarin's free throws were huge, too. The seniors may not be the scorers on this team, but they are the heart and soul of our team. They do what it takes to win."
After it was tied, Brown came up with a steal and again the Bulldogs called time out, this one with 27 seconds left. They turned the ball over, however, on an errant inbounds pass. A Spring Hill player was fouled and hit one of two free throws with 11 seconds remaining. Again the Bulldogs looked to be done.
But after yet another time out, BHS quickly got the ball in, over to Kivett and she worked her last second magic. The lessons gained from the dramatic come-back win will go along ways for the underclassmen-ladened squad. Toot expects more close games.
"This was our first true test for most of them because they hadn't been in a situation like this," he said. "One thing I told them at half time was young and inexperienced isn't an excuse anymore because Spring Hill is younger, with most of their starters being sophomores. We're going to be playing against them for a long time. I told them if they want to get where they want to be, they can't use that excuse."
The Bulldogs played smart, too, sticking to one of their goals each game in keeping the fouls to a minimum. It paid off down that fateful come-back stretch.
"I think the biggest key in the game to come back was that we hadn't fouled," said Toot. "When we were down, we could foul without putting them on the line. If we were down 14 points and had given 10 fouls, no way could we have come back."
And also evident during the tournament-title run was the many weapons the Bulldogs have this year. They beat Belton, Mo., in the opener 71-44 with 22 points from Bacon, 16 from Skaggs and 12 from Brown. They followed that with a 61-30 win over Eudora which chose to pack the inside and stop Brown with the outside shooting of Kivett (22 points), Bacon (13) and Skaggs (10). BHS hit nine of 13 from the 3-point stripe in that one and now has 19 for the season.
In the finale, Spring Hill again shut off Brown, who had seven points. But Bacon had 13 and Kivett 12. It's an inside-outside combination that proves hard to stop.
"I'm real pleased," said Toot. " I just think it shows that teams aren't going to be able to focus on one thing. We've got so many things that we can do. I think that's a big advantage."
And, Bulldog fans, get use to the hair-pulling finishes. The Frontier League is packed with talented teams. There will be more games like the tourney final for the BHS squad, which is now 4-0.
"I think Thursday is an indicator of what kind of games we're going to have," he said. "It's a great start."
There will be another test, again on the road, when BHS travels to Garnett Friday to take on Anderson County. All three teams varsity, junior varsity and freshmen will be in action starting at 5 p.m. The varsity game will be at 6:30 p.m. and it should be another dandy.
"It doesn't get any easier this week," said Toot.
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