BHS girls win another close one
OTTAWA Often it's the little things in basketball that can make the difference between winning and losing. Such was the case here last Tuesday when the Baldwin High School girls used a couple of timely passes that turned into easy buckets to secure a 43-42 win over the Ottawa Cyclones in a battle of unbeatens.
Junior Colleen Kivett gave BHS a 39-38 lead with three minutes left with a pair of free throws. Then it was time for a pair of passes to lead to the win. First, Kivett fed junior Casey Millstein who turned it into a four-footer to regain the lead at 41-40 with 1:35 left.
An Ottawa turnover then looked to put BHS in the driver's seat, but an offensive foul gave the Cyclones the ball back. However, they failed to convert by missing a free throw. That gave BHS control and set up another pass, this one from senior Suzie Weege to freshman Emily Brown who turned it into what proved to be the game-winning inside shot. That put the Bulldogs up 43-40 with just 28 seconds left.
"The first one (pass from Kivett to Millstein) was a set play," said coach Eric Toot. "It's a play we work on all the time. The girls executed it real well. On the other one, Suzie made a great play and made a perfect entry pass to Emily.
"Suzie has made plays like that all year," he said. "She's a good leader. She doesn't panic. She hardly ever scores she's had only four points all year but she does everything else."
Ottawa had one last chance and converted a pair of free throws to pull within one at 43-42 with four seconds left. The Cyclones were then forced to foul and BHS went on to the win.
The Bulldogs and Cyclones had battled close all the way. Each had a big quarter in the first half, with Ottawa jumping out 14-4, only to see Baldwin counter with a 16-9 second quarter. BHS's Anna Skaggs hit a 3-pointer and then an off-balance prayer at the buzzer for the last five points that pulled the Bulldogs within three at 23-20.
Baldwin finally took the lead in the third quarter with a Brown basket to go up 28-26 with 3:06 left. Millstein gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead at four points with a five footer about a minute later. At the end of the third frame, BHS was up 33-30.
Ottawa took its last lead of the night at 36-35 with 5:08 left in the game. Brown countered with her bucket at the 4:52 mark and BHS never trailed again.
"I think their quickness caught us off guard," he said. "You can't practice against quickness. We had to settle down and climb back in at the half. That shows how good we are to come back like that."
It was one of BHS's long-standing hallmarks that made a big difference, too.
"Our bench made the difference in the second half," said Toot. "We played nine and they played six. We wore them down. Our bench gave us some real big minutes."
There were a couple of other big factors that helped the No. 7-ranked Bulldogs remain unbeaten at 5-0, while No. 8-ranked Ottawa fell to 3-1.
"Defensively we clamped down in the last three quarters," he said. "We held them to 26 percent shooting and they are a good shooting team."
Two other keys were the team's unselfish play and continued clutch performance down the stretch.
"They don't care who scores the winning bucket, they just want to win," said Toot. "That's probably what I'm most pleased with at the break is how we've kept our composure. It's from playing together."
Brown, a 6-footer, led the scoring with 15 points. Skaggs had nine points and Millstein eight.
The Bulldogs will take Christmas break and then return to action big time. Their games that had been scheduled for Tuesday at Paola have been switched to Friday at 5 p.m. Then, the Dec. 15 games against Anderson County that were postponed because of weather have been rescheduled for Saturday. The varsity and junior varsity will play at Garnett. The freshmen will play Friday at Paola.
"We're going to get real busy," said Toot.