State tourney tradition is started at BHS
With a third-place state finish under the belt, Baldwin High School's boys' basketball program got a good taste of what championship-level competition is all about.
Now, BHS coach Bobby Taul knows the Bulldogs are headed in the right direction.
"It's part of building that tradition," said Taul. "What I'm trying to do is build a basketball tradition and I know how that needs to be done."
Taul was a long-time coach at tradition-rich Topeka Hayden. He saw first-hand how it was accomplished there and wants to do the same thing in Baldwin City. The three-day stay in Salina, with upsets over No. 1 seeded Jefferson West and No. 3 seeded Scott City, did wonders toward tradition building.
"We wanted to get them there and experience it," said Taul. "Now they've had a taste of it and know what it takes to get in the championship game. We've got to stay hungry. We learned you can't have a bad game (from the one loss in the tourney). We have to go out and do the things that will make us better."
Of course he would have loved to have brought home the first-place trophy instead of third. But, just like it's been throughout rebuilding the program, it's a step at a time.
"It would have been nice to have won the title, but it gives us something to shoot for," he said. "After placing third this year, we can't be satisfied. To me, there are bigger and better things out there. That's the ultimate. It's like a mountain you keep climbing and climbing."
The program has gone a step at a time, first with a winning record, then advancing in sub-state and then winning sub-state this year to qualify for the championship tourney. The first year it was 11 wins, last year it was 13 and this year's squad finished at 17-9. It was a pretty quick climb, too.
"We probably got there sooner than I expected," said Taul.
Now thoughts turn to how to improve for next year to take that ultimate step.
"We talked about what it will take to get us there next year. It's sacrifice and dedication," he said. "We need to hit the weight room and get stronger. There are other things we need to dedicate ourselves to improve on, too.
"If this (the third-place finish) doesn't give us the incentive to get there, we should be shot in the head," said Taul.
The team felt the state experience. It showed them what big-time basketball is all about.
"It really does," said Ben Cosman, a junior about his trip to state. "We walked in there (Salina's Bicentinnial Center) and looked around and walked around. Then all those people showed up.
"This is what basketball is all about," said Cosman. "I hope we can do as well next year. It was fun."