BHS boys handle pressure
OTTAWA After knocking off some rusty spots left from an 11-day unplanned vacation, the No. 2-ranked Baldwin High School Bulldogs knocked off the Ottawa Cyclones 69-53 here last Tuesday night to end the first half of the season with an exclamation point.
"I think you could tell we hadn't played for awhile," said coach Bobby Taul. "We jumped out to a lead, but the came right back. Overall, I was pleased with how we handled their press. They didn't get a run on us with it in the second half. We had 20 turnovers 13 in the first half and seven in the second, so that shows what happens. Their offense is their press. You take that away from them and it's trouble.
"It was a good win," he said. "They beat us last year at our place and the year before at their place. This might have been the first time we've beaten them at their place in a long time. It's a tough place to play."
Ottawa, which had played the previous night, came out quickly and took a 23-19 first-quarter lead. But BHS's rust gave way in the second frame with a big push from 6-foot-4 senior Ben Cosman, who scored 17 of his 19 points on the night in the first half.
Cosman put together an old-fashioned three-point play at the 5:28 mark to put BHS up for good. He hit a follow shot, was fouled and hit the free throw to give the Bulldogs their first lead at 27-26.
Ottawa still wouldn't give in, however, and it wasn't until a 3-pointer from the corner by junior Eric Black with two minutes left in the half that started putting some distance between the teams. Two free throws by junior Eric Brown and another three-point play by senior Heath Knight with 45 seconds left gave BHS its 40-35 halftime lead.
"We're up 40-35 and went in at halftime and said, 'Ottawa gave us their best shot. What do we need to do?'" he said. "They told me what what they needed to do and went out in the second half and did it. That's really nice. These kids are smart. We talked about it and went upstairs and executed it."
BHS wasted little time in the third frame in putting the game away. Cosman hit a pair of free throws to open the action and provide a 42-35 lead. It was Cosman's last points of the games.
From there, Knight took over. The 6-5 swingman scored the next 10 points on a variety of inside and outside shots including a 3-pointer to give BHS a 54-46 lead at the end of the quarter. He continued the roll with 11 of Baldwin's 15 fourth-quarter points to secure the 69-53 win.
"Ben had a tremendous first half and then Heath kind of came in and took over the second half," said Taul. "We changed our offense a little bit during the break and tried to get Heath closer to the basket. We've gone to two guards, two forwards and a center. You get both of them (Knight and Cosman) going to the boards."
Knight ended the game with 28 points, with Cosman adding his 19. Black had a season-high seven points. Knight also had 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals.
"He put it all together and that's pretty good," he said.
But, what really made the difference? Defense. BHS gave up 35 points in the first half, but only 18 in the second. With Ottawa relying on the press for points, that played real big.
"You've got to give the defense credit," he said. "Their press is their offense and if they don't score, they can't press. They're not real patient on offense. We told them defense was going to win the game and it did."
The victory moved BHS's record to 3-1, while Ottawa moved to 2-2. Next up for the Bulldogs after the Christmas break is a Friday game at Paola. Then there's a make-up game Saturday at Anderson County. Games start at 2 p.m. On Jan. 9, BHS will play host to Osage City.
After the layoff, it gets real busy real quick. And, the Bulldogs will be playing those three games without Cosman who will be on a family vacation.
"He's going to miss three games," said Taul. "We've got to play them one game at a time. Some of the other big people are going to have to step it up and play. Maybe this will be good and we'll learn to play without him. We've got all of Christmas to practice without him and get ready.
"We're off five days, then practice and then play three games in five days," he said. "That's what we've got to do. When you play tournaments and sub-state, that's what you've got to do. It's going to prepare us."
In the junior varsity game, BHS downed Ottawa 63-58. The Bulldogs trailed 16-10 in the first quarter, but outscored Ottawa 20-10 in the second frame to take control. Brian Lauridsen topped the scoring with 21 points and Andrew Hannon had 16. The freshmen lost by 20. No other details were available on that game.