BHS girls fall in sub-state, but have good year
Going into the Burlington Class 4A Sub-State Tournament, talk abounded that it was the toughest in the state for girls. Baldwin High School found that out when the Bulldogs fell 52-45 to Santa Fe Trail in the semi-finals Thursday.
Burlington entered the sub-state unbeaten and exited that way on its way to the state tournament by beating Santa Fe Trail in Saturday's finals. It was only the second loss of the season for SFT. Baldwin High ended the season with a 16-6 record, which is hardly a mark to be ashamed of.
"We were in a real tough sub-state. There were six good teams in our sub-state. There was a lot of quality and it depended on the draw," said coach Mike Berg. "I'm very proud of how the girls competed all year long. We were challenged almost every game this year. We played some quality teams. Most of the time we came out on top."
They almost did Friday, too. SFT was up 10-7 after the first quarter, but BHS narrowed it to one point at halftime, 24-23. SFT's Chargers moved that margin to 40-32 at the end of the third quarter, but there was plenty more basketball to be played.
Amber Frost, a 5-foot-10 senior, ignited an 11-2 BHS run to open the fourth quarter with an inside move. Seniors Crystal Tutschulte and Christie Wingert chipped in with seven points between them with inside play and free throws. Frost capped the comeback with another strong inside move to put the Bulldogs up 43-42 with 2:15 remaining.
However, that's as close as BHS came to winning the semi-final bout. During the next minute and a half, the Chargers went on their own run, outscoring BHS 7-0 to regain the lead. They put the game away with free throw shooting.
"We gave Santa Fe Trail everything they wanted and then some," said Berg. "We got the lead and if we would have done a few things differently, we would have been in the finals."
What proved to be the Bulldog's undoing was rebounding. The taller Chargers hauled down 14 offensive rebounds and converted most of those into points. Trail's 6-2 Trudy Carter was the biggest beneficiary, with a team-high 15 points.
BHS was able to use one of its hallmarks of the season defense to shackle SFT's other main weapon, Ranell Ullery, a 3-point shooting specialist. Berg utilized a diamond-and-one defense and had Wingert shadow Ullery. It worked.
"Again, it was our defense," he said. "You've got to hand it to Christie. Ullery didn't get any points. Christie did a great job. We knew Trudy would get her points. We knew we could be in the game if we'd keep them from hitting 3s. We did that, but we didn't rebound."
Frost led BHS in scoring, matching Carter with 15 points. Tutschulte was right behind with 13 points and Wingert added 10.
Berg was pleased by what the team accomplished this year, including a return as Frontier League champions.
"We won some games and I was very happy. I've very proud of our girls," he said. "The girls played great defense and that won us a lot of games. The seniors did a good job keeping up the intensity on defense and used their athleticism.
"Wingert was our defensive specialist; Frost was great inside; (Janae) Nuspl gave us good defense; Tutschulte could score on the inside and outside; and (Kim) Sledd gave us great defense and occasional offense," he said.
Berg also had quality play from a variety of underclassmen during the year and was able to get them valuable varsity playing time. The traditionally strong girls' basketball program had unbeaten seasons from the freshmen team and the Baldwin Junior High School eighth graders. The BHS junior varsity squad only lost one game.