Top Gun tourney tumbles BHS girls
Wellsville It was a week the Baldwin High School girls would just as soon forget at the Wellsville Top Gun Tournament. And, they should.
Entering the tournament as the No. 1 seed, the BHS Bulldogs were unbeaten and ranked No. 4 among the state's Class 4A teams. After opening the tourney with a lopsided win over Eudora last Tuesday, the Bulldogs absorbed back-to-back, turnover-plagued losses in Thursday's semifinals and Saturday's consolation finals.
It was tough to swallow and coach Mike Berg wants his squad to just forget about the tournament and move on.
"We're disappointed that we didn't play better," said Berg. "But the season's not over. We're still 5-0 in league and we need to work hard in practice and get some things fixed.
"We took some things for granted," he said. "We need to put it behind us and start preparing for the rest of the season."
It will be back to the fundamentals for BHS this week, because that's what failed the Bulldogs in the losses. They fell behind early to Kansas City Piper in the semis and did the same thing in Saturday's consolation finals against Ottawa, a team they'd already beat this year.
"We just didn't play very well," said Berg. "We're back to 26 turnovers in a game and that's where we were at the first of the year. We're just not making good decisions and we are making bad passes."
That's particularly bad when it's done early in the game and put the Bulldogs in deep holes in both losses in the first quarter.
"That's right," he said. "We're not focused at the beginning. We're playing sloppy and not taking good shots. I don't know what it is. We're going to have to change our pregame ritual."
He also knows it didn't help to have the unbeaten tag squarely on the back like a target for every team to take a shot at.
"Everyone is gunning for you when you go out and play and we just haven't been playing well," said Berg. "Piper and Ottawa have both improved from the first of the year and are playing well."
But, ultimately, the losses point back to fundamentals making good passes, taking good shots, playing good defense and rebounding. All facets of BHS game which had carried them to the unbeaten mark fell apart.
"It's just our fundamentals right now," he said. "We're not doing the little things. We're not running our offense, we're not getting our spacings right and we're just not taking good shots. When we do take shots, we're just throwing the ball up. We're scared we're going to get it blocked."
In the Piper game, which the Bulldogs lost 50-43, BHS was down 16-5 after the first quarter and 25-14 at halftime. The Bulldogs started to rally in the third frame behind the strong inside play of Amber Frost, who hit a pair of follow shots with just under two minutes to play to pull BHS with 33-26. Still, BHS trailed 36-28 going into the final frame.
Two free throws by Crystal Tutschulte and a layup by Janae Nuspl pulled the Bulldogs within five at 37-32 with 5:56 left. It continued back and forth until Tutschulte hit a 3-pointer at the 3:11 mark to make it a four-point game, 42-38. Following a Piper time-out, Colleen Kivett made a steal and a layup to pull BHS within two at 42-40. After a Piper bucket, Kristen Wessel hit an inside shot to make it 44-42 with 1:56 left, but that's as close at the Bulldogs would get.
From that point, Piper outscored BHS 6-1 all of it from the free throw line to pull out the win. Tutschulte had 13 points and Frost 12.
It was more of the same against Ottawa Saturday as the Bulldogs fell 53-41. BHS again dug a hole in the first quarter, this time trailing 14-4. At halftime, Ottawa was up 31-19.
Frost led a charge in the third quarter by scoring eight points as BHS closed the gap to 41-33 heading down the stretch. Nuspl banked in a 3-pointer with 2:07 left to bring BHS within eight and a free throw by Jodie Bacon with 1:45 left cut it to 48-41. Again, that was as close as it got.
Frost, a 5-foot-10 senior, had 18 points to lead the way and was the only bright spot of the tournament for BHS. She was named to the all-tournament team. Against Ottawa, she hit 12 of 14 free throws, while the rest of the team managed just two of 10. Frost also had 13 rebounds.
"Amber had a great tournament and a great game Saturday night," said Berg. "She is very deserving of the all-tournament team."
Next action for BHS, now 10-2 overall, is Friday at Prairie View. The varsity plays at 6:30 p.m. and the junior varsity at 5 p.m. Both games are in the high school gym. The freshmen play at around 8 p.m. in the LaCygne Middle School which is in town a couple miles east of the high school.