BHS wins in Haas’ first game at helm
OSAWATOMIE It was first-year coach Jeff Haas' first-ever varsity victory here Friday night. But that wasn't foremost in his mind it was Baldwin High School's first win of the season and that's what really mattered most.
"I was excited for us," said Haas, who had been an assistant coach in previous stints until Friday's 61-50 victory. "It's a good start.
"To me, it's important as far as it's important to our team," he said. "I think it was important based on the reaction I saw from the team."
It's always good to jump-start the season with an opening victory, he said.
"I think so," said Haas. "I usually treat the opening game that way. It's a big one."
It wasn't easy, either. Osawatomie's Trojans came out ready to play and led 14-13 after the first quarter. From there, however, Baldwin's inside-outside game came around and the Bulldogs started building a lead.
"I thought they came out with a lot of intensity and we expected that," Haas said of the Trojans. "It was opening night for both teams. I wasn't surprised by the start.
"I thought we kept with our game, like we should," he said.
Both teams went to the 3-pointer mid-way through the second quarter for a flurry. Back to back 3s by BHS junior guard Joe Gipp put the Bulldogs up 29-23. Sophomore guard Andrew Hannon added a layup off a steal and senior post Eric Brown closed out the scoring with a follow shot to give BHS a 33-26 halftime margin.
Throughout the first half, but especially in the third quarter, the Baldwin High defense made a difference. It wasn't a full-court press, but it was in-your-face defense that kept the Trojans out of their comfort zone and led to several break-away layups for the Bulldogs.
"The man-to-man pressure helped us out," said Haas. "We kept them a few feet away from where they wanted to start."
But there was another item that pleased the new coach most. BHS out rebounded Osawatomie 34-18. Rebounding was a concern of his heading into the season.
"We took care of the back boards," he said. "I think we can all be very happy with that. Still I'm concerned about it, though."
The combination of all those helped BHS put a 46-33 lead together at the end of the third frame. The Bulldogs increased that to as many as 17 points, the last time on a layup by senior guard Eric Black. That would be as big as the lead would get and Osawatomie eventually trimmed it down to the final 11-point margin.
"They outscored us by a deuce in the last quarter, but with the lead we had, we handled it fairly well," said Haas.
The Bulldogs hit six 3-pointers on the night, but the coach doesn't expect that to be an every-game occurrence. Hannon and Gipp hit several, because that's what the Trojan defense was giving.
"I wasn't expecting the 3-pointers, but when they went in the zone, that's what we had," he said. "I tell them not to fall in love with the 3-pointer. We're not a great shooting team. We're a good shooting team and we must stretch the defense."
Hannon led the way with 16 points and Gipp was right behind with 15. Black was also in double digits with 10.
One concern Haas did have was 13 turnovers. Although that's not too high for an opening game, it was the timing of several of the turnovers that bothered him.
"It was too many," he said. "We didn't handle the time and score situations well. We had turnovers at the end of two quarters. Those are two chances to increase your score that we didn't get."
Also catching Haas' eye in the first game was the sizable student section that made the trip to Osawatomie. About half of the section was decked out in tie-died purple t-shirts. They helped keep the team pumped up.
"That was great," he said of the students. "It was a great crowd."
He's also not putting too much emphasis on the opening win.
"I look at the season like hurdles. We cleared the first one and here comes the next," said Haas. "I don't want to overplay it with the week we've got ahead of us. It's a big week. We've got to move on. We've got three games and the competition will be excellent."
BHS is playing in the Cardinal Invitational Monday, Tuesday and Thursday of this week. Monday's opener was against Kansas City Turner.