BJHS eighth graders remain unbeaten
They were tested Thursday night, but the unbeaten Baldwin Junior High School eighth graders passed with flying colors with a 44-36 win over Paola.
Down 22-20 at halftime, Baldwin rallied in the third quarter behind a personal blitz by Andy Hannon. Hannon hit a 3-pointer, followed by several steals, layups and free throws to give BJHS the lead for good. At one point, he had scored eight points in a matter of 30 seconds. The run led BJHS to a 17-9 advantage in the third frame and the Bulldogs held off Paola down the stretch.
"The first half was a battle and we lost it," said coach Aman Reaka. "Our defensive intensity wasn't there and we were trying to do too much on offense. After a halftime locker room talk and a challenge I posed to the team, we came out and played our kind of basketball and pulled out a very tough win against a very tough team."
Hannon had 20 points, five rebounds, five assists and five steals to be named top contributor. Jason Kesinger had 11 points and Micah Mason had six rebounds.
The eighth graders followed that up Monday with a 46-36 win over Perry on the road to remain unbeaten at 10-0 and 4-0 in Frontier League play. Hannon again led the way with 17 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and six steals to be named top contributor. Mason had 10 points.
"It was another lackluster defensive effort in the first half which made an interesting halftime score," said Reaka. "But we came out in the third quarter and played the way we know how and pulled off another tough victory."
"Our trap was working outstanding and instead of being scared, we were pumped up," said Hannon.
Last Tuesday, BJHS had another victory, this one 43-39 over Spring Hill. Mason topped the charts with 19 points, seven rebounds and three assists to be named top contributor. Kesinger had 13 points.
"Spring Hill was a tough team to beat," he said. "They shot and rebounded very well and we had trouble taking care of the ball. This is the tough part of our schedule against some great teams. Hopefully, we'll be ready."
The seventh graders had success, too, beating Perry Monday 29-23 and Paola 35-30 Thursday. They lost to Spring Hill 38-30 last Tuesday. The action left the team with a 5-5 overall record and a 2-3 league mark.
Against Perry, BJHS opened a 9-4 lead in the first quarter and never trailed. Ben Knoll led the way with eight points and three rebounds to be named top contributor.
"We think we are playing hard," said coach Dane Jorgensen. "One day we will realize the difference between running and sprinting, playing hard and going through the motions."
Against Paola, BJHS used a similar script, opening a 12-7 lead and never trailing. However, Paola made a 15-9 run in the fourth quarter to make it close. Chris Irick had six points, four rebounds, six assists and a steal to be named top contributor. Knoll had eight points to lead that category.
"We let down on defense with mental mistakes, but we did play our hearts out and got a win," said Jorgensen.
In the Spring Hill game, it was a reverse script. BJHS fell behind 5-2 in the first quarter and never led. Emery Kinkaid had five points, eight rebounds and two assists to be named top contributor. Knoll had 11 points.
"We played like a team," said Jorgensen. "Our turnovers were way down. The team made some smart plays and if we keep improving, we will be team to be reckoned with."
In junior varsity play, the seventh graders beat Perry 41-5, Spring Hill 23-18 and Basehor 27-13. Against Perry, Derek Flory was the leading scorer with 10 points. Against Spring Hill, Michael Champagne had eight points. Against Basehor, Earl McNish had nine points and 10 rebounds. Those three were chosen top contributors for those respective games. No information was available for the eighth grade JV.
Next action for the teams will be Thursday at Louisburg.