Baldwin High boys grab share of league title
Not only did the Baldwin High School Bulldogs come out Friday with a break-through game, they also put their claim to the Frontier League title the first in many years.
The break-through was an outside game to compliment the inside play that has carried the team all season. Coach Bobby Taul has been looking for players to step up and hit the outside shot all season and that happened in Friday's 60-43 win over Louisburg.
"It was a good one. Hopefully that will give us some confidence going into sub-state," said Taul. "They came out and played some zone and we beat it. We had some people step up and hit from the outside. I thought Sam (McCall) and Joe (Kivett) were able to hit some 3s and that opens it up inside.
"You've got to bury it," he said of those shots. "It's something we've talked about all season and we talked about it at halftime. We said 'we have confidence in you taking the shot, so take it.'"
BHS had a 27-22 halftime lead and moved that to 30-22 just into the third quarter when Kivett canned a 3. Louisburg battled back, however, and the Bulldogs were only up 38-34 going into the fourth quarter.
That's when they really caught fire. McCall started by again opening the quarter with a 3. That sent BHS on a 21-5 run for the next six minutes and Baldwin High was up 59-39 with 1:56 left.
The surge included a bit of everything from the BHS arsenal. During one stretch, 6-foot-5 senior Andy Meinen scored seven inside points and it was punctuated by another 3-pointer from McCall. Ben Cosman and Heath Knight, both 6-4 juniors, got in the act, too, with inside shots and foul shooting. In short, it was everything a coach wants to see.
"We went on a roll in the fourth quarter," said Taul. "We were beating them down the floor. Andy was getting down the floor well and we were able to get it to him.
"We attacked the zone a little different than we had against Osawatomie (a loss last Tuesday). We put Sam and Joe in the corners and Heath up top. That gives him the ability to do a lot of things," he said. "It gives us more firepower. It spreads the defense out and that helps us."
Two other coach-pleasers were patience and defense.
"You're not going to score after the first pass against a zone," said Taul. "You've got to move the ball around and reverse it. We did that. I thought our defense played well, too. The press was totally new. We had some people in different places and it helped us."
It wasn't all happiness, however.
"My only concern is the mental aspect," he said. "Physically, we're there. We just aren't there mentally, yet. I had to call a time-out to tell them what defense we were in. That happened right after we had talked about what defense we were supposed to be in. We can't have that."
But, overall, it was a good night for the Bulldogs. The victory moved their record to 12-7 overall and 7-1 in Frontier League play. They are co-champions of the league with Spring Hill. That hasn't happened for long enough that no one remembers the last title for sure, but odds are it was 1981.
"It's good to be league champions," said Taul. "I was tickled and the kids were tickled. We were picked to finish fourth and we're co-champs. To be able to do that is great."
It shows the step-by-step progress the program has made in the last three years. Three years ago the Bulldogs were picked to finish eighth and finished fourth. Last year they were picked to finish sixth and finished third. Last year they won 11 games and they've won 12 this year heading into sub-state.
"Each year we've improved, step by step," he said. "The down side is now people will pick us to win it, but that's where we want the program to go."
Cosman led Friday's effort with 14 points. Meinen, Knight and McCall all chipped in with 10 points and Kivett added nine.
The win also helped erase the memory of last Tuesday's 48-45 loss at the buzzer to Osawatomie. BHS had a 45-44 lead after a layup by Knight with 12.8 seconds left.
But somehow Osawatomie's Cordeus Anderson wound up with the ball in the corner, swished a 3-pointer and was fouled at the buzzer. He hit the free throw for the three-point win.
Meinen had 17 points to lead BHS, including the first 10 points of the game. It was a non-league game and didn't count towards the league title. BHS had beaten Osawatomie in the first game of the season, which was the league game.
The Baldwin High freshmen beat Louisburg 43-24 Friday night, while the BHS junior varsity fell 48-29. Against Osawatomie, both teams were victorious as the JV won 39-36 and the freshmen won 62-39.
Against Louisburg, Brian Lauridsen had 14 points to lead the freshmen and Joe Gipp was right behind with 11. No one scored in double digits for the JV, which was led by six points each from Eric Brown and Bo Donora. The games closed out the season for both teams.
In the JV game against Osawatomie, Brown had 16 points and Brett Myrick 10. For the freshmen, Lauridsen had 19 points and Kyler Troth 16.