Baldwin High wins pair
It proved to be a very big week for the Baldwin High School boys basketball team last week. On Tuesday, the Bulldogs squeaked out a 63-57 win over Topeka Hayden and Bobby Taul, former BHS coach and then put on an offensive display in the home opener by crushing Anderson County 75-42.
On top of that, BHS displayed two different styles of play to accomplish the victories. Against Hayden, the Bulldogs used the inside play of senior postmen Eric Brown and Hugh Murphy to spark the victory. Against Anderson County, it was the guard play of sophomore Andrew Hannon and junior Joe Gipp that turned the trick.
"It was a big week," said BHS coach Jeff Haas. "It was very different as far as the offense. That's very true. Again, it's not something I'm going to worry about, but I like to have balance."
In the Hayden game, Brown had 15 points and Murphy 11. Hannon was very much a part of that game too, though, with a game-high 18. But, against Anderson County, the 6-foot Hannon put on a display of 3-point shooting and layups that brought a career-high 30 points. He also had seven assists and Gipp added eight assists and 15 points.
"We certainly didn't go into the game looking at the outside game at the expense of the inside game," Haas said of the Anderson County win. "But, that's the way it worked. We stumbled across some offensive sets, especially in the second quarter, that worked and we kept with them."
Anderson County played tough, especially in early in the first quarter. BHS was only able to put a 14-7 lead together. But behind 3-point shooting (Gipp had three, including one at the buzzer) and layups from breaking Anderson County's press, Baldwin High blew the game open with a 26-11 run in the second quarter for a 40-18 halftime lead.
It was more of the same in the second half, but BHS used its defense even more to create turnovers, steals and layups as the Bulldogs built their lead to the final 33-point advantage.
"A lot of it was sparked by the defense, which tickled me," said Haas. "That's what I'm wanting is to be more offensive minded with our defense."
What also pleased the first-year head coach was the successful addition of new offensive sets and the assists-to-turnovers ratio.
"We've been sticking with vanilla (on offense), but we'd like to add some flavor. We started to do that," he said. "We had more assists (20) than turnovers (15) and that shows we're headed in the right direction. That's still too many turnovers, though."
But, it was a far cry from the 30 suffered against Ward in the consolation finals of the Eudora tournament. That game was ugly and Haas hoped the Bulldogs had those uglies out of their system heading into the Hayden game.
"That was a pivotal game for us I thought," Haas said of the Hayden road win. "If we come out of there with a 2-3 record, it would have made it tough. Instead we came out of the week with a 4-2 record.
"I certainly have a better feeling this week than I did last week," he said.
The Hayden game was highly emotional because it was the seniors one shot to face off with Taul, who had coached them for three years. Hayden is known for its boisterous fans, with a student section that approaches the games as if they're college contests by heckling throughout the game, including free throws. BHS answered the call, however.
"It was an exciting game and we knew that it would be," said Haas. "I think it had everyone focused. We knew it would be a tough environment.
"I think it carried more weight with them than me," he said of his players wanting to beat their former coach. "I could tell it meant a lot to them. Once the game started, I was the same way. I wanted it bad, too."
Murphy, a 6-3 post, was especially motivated after sitting the bench most of last year under Taul. He scored a season-high 11 points, most of which came in the first half, and was a force on the boards.
"He was working it," Haas said of Murphy. "He had nine rebounds to lead the team."
Murphy's partner in the post, Brown, who is 6-4, also added short-range jumpers to the assault.
"We thought those shots might be there against their defense and they were," he said.
The Bulldogs gained a great deal of confidence as a result of the Hayden win and it carried over into the blowout of Anderson County. Everyone got involved with that one.
"They had a good time spreading it around," Haas said.
But, it doesn't get any easier for BHS. The Bulldogs squared off with Ottawa Tuesday in a home game. Ottawa has been ranked and won the BHS sub-state tournament last year. Results weren't available by press time.
"It's going to be exciting," Haas said of the Ottawa game. "I think we'll be ready for that. We had a good practice Saturday. They are a good team."