Baldwin High takes pair of victories
It was a Dr. Jeykll, Mr. Hyde week for the Baldwin High School Bulldogs, but still they pulled out a pair of wins, including a big one Friday to cap the King and Queen of Courts festivities.
On Tuesday, the Bulldogs bolted to a big lead over Olathe Christian, but then found themselves in an unexpected battle before pulling out an 82-78 win. In the Friday game against Eudora, the expected defensive struggle against one of the top teams in the Frontier League didn't develop as BHS rolled to a 57-34 runaway win.
No one was more perplexed by those outcomes than coach Bobby Taul. As upset as he was with mental mistakes against Olathe Christian, he was equally pleased by how his team responded Friday against Eudora.
"Against Olathe Christian, we dodged a bullet," said Taul. "Friday night we went out did what we needed to do.
"If we would have gotten beat Tuesday, we deserved it," he said. "We weren't in the ballgame mentally. Friday we were. What makes us do that, I don't have a clue."
The victories improved BHS's overall record to 11-6 on the season and Friday's win upped the league mark to 7-0. The non-league flavor of the Olathe Christian game may have been part of the cause for mental lapses, but Taul pointed to the importance of all games for sub-state pairings.
"At this stage of the season, you've got to take everyone seriously," he said. "I think it's a little hard to get up for a non-league game this late in the season. But every game is important to us now. Every game counts toward sub-state pairings and any stub of the toe can hurt us."
But before that comes the chance for something that hasn't happened with BHS boys basketball for quite some time the chance for a Frontier League title. After Spring Hill lost to Osawatomie Friday, BHS is the lone unbeaten team left in the league and could wrap up the title at Spring Hill Friday.
"We can create our own destiny Friday," said Taul. "If we go down there and beat them, league is ours. If we go down and play our game, we beat them. If we go down there and play like we did Tuesday, we get beat."
In the Tuesday game, BHS roared to a 12-0 lead and was up 18-8 at the end of the first quarter. Both teams scored 29 points in the second frame to leave it at 47-37 at halftime. Olathe outscored Baldwin 21-14 in the third frame to make it closer and actually had the lead several times down the stretch. But BHS prevailed in the end with the four-point win.
The inside game of postmen Andy Meinen, 6-foot-5 senior, and Ben Cosman, 6-4 junior, paced the Bulldogs with both scoring 18 points. Senior Joe Kivett wasn't far behind with 16 points and junior Heath Knight added a dozen.
There was no down to the wire in the Eudora game. This time BHS took the early lead 14-7 in the first quarter and kept building on it. At halftime, the Bulldogs were up 24-14. A semi-lull in the third quarter let Eudora back in, but just briefly. A 3-pointer pulled the Cards to within six at 30-24 with 4:04 left in the third frame.
That's as close as it got as the Bulldogs went on a 17-3 run during the next eight minutes that put them up 47-27 with 4:03 left in the game. The stretch included an alley-oop to Knight from senior Colin Barker that started the roll, 10 total points by Knight including a 3-pointer and inside buckets by Cosman and Meinen. There were plenty of free throws by almost everyone, too.
"The ball was going inside. The ball went in and we got them in foul trouble," said Taul. "We did it against a zone, too. It gives us confidence. It seemed like everything we wanted to do worked. We used a three-quarter press to slow them down and that worked for us, too."
The one thing that did concern the coach was free throw shooting, which has been a sore spot for the Bulldogs all year. They only hit 19 of 31 from the line.
"That concerned me," he said. "If we go 25 of 31 from the free throw line, the margin is that much bigger. Somewhere down the line our free throw shooting will nail us. We've got to hit those."
Knight led the way with 19 points, Cosman added 14 and Kivett had 10.
Now the Bulldogs will focus on Spring Hill, which had been ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in Class 4A, depending on which poll you looked at, until Friday's loss. The Broncos feature players at 6-5, 6-4 and 6-3, along with the league's top scorer.
"They've got a tremendous amount of height, but size-wise we match up with them," he said. "They're going to pressure us from one end to the other. It's going to be pressure, pressure, pressure. We've got to make them run an offense. We also need to make them play defense.
"We've got a heck of a challenge. We go down and play one of the best teams in the state. How are we going to do? We'll find out how big our hearts are," Taul said.
Game time at Spring Hill will be around 8 p.m.
Against Eudora, the BHS junior varsity lost 37-34, while the freshmen won 51-47.
Sophomore Eric Brown was the lone player in double digits with 15 points for the JV. Joe Gipp led the freshmen with 19 points and Brian Lauridsen added 10.
The freshmen are in action again Thursday at Ottawa with a 5 p.m. game time. Both teams will play Friday at Spring Hill with game times of 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.