Boys blast Burlington in tourney opener
Baldwin High towered over its sub-state first-round opponent Burlington Monday night. The Bulldogs took advantage of the height advantage and blasted the Wildcats 74-54.
Burlington had one player listed at 6-foot-2. The rest were 6-0 or shorter, and mostly shorter. BHS countered with a starting lineup of 6-5, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2, 5-10. The plan was to attack inside and the Bulldogs did just that, racing to a 16-3 first-quarter lead.
"That's what we had to do," said coach Bobby Taul of the game plan to take the ball inside and hammer it. "They had 5-8 on 6-5, 5-10 on 6-4, 6-2 on 6-5. We knew we had miss matches. The kids did a real good job getting the ball inside and finishing."
Other than a 3-pointer by 6-5 senior Heath Knight less than a minute into the game, everything BHS did was inside. Knight, who has played mostly on the outside during the season, was moved inside with a new offense just installed Sunday night. He scored 13 of BHS 16 points in the first quarter. Fellow senior Ben Cosman (6-4) had the other three points.
Burlington battled back early in the second quarter and it looked for a brief moment the Bulldogs might suffer a similar meltdown that occurred to them Saturday at Eudora. In that one, BHS stormed to a 17-4 first-quarter lead, only to see Eudora come back with a 17-5 run in the second quarter and eventually take command of the game. That didn't happen Monday.
Burlington closed to within six points twice, but BHS stayed with the inside game and Knight scored in the paint to put the Bulldogs up by 10, 26-16, with 2:39 left. Another inside shot by Knight with 22 seconds left put BHS up 33-18. The next time down he was fouled and missed the free throw. But another of Baldwin High's big men, 6-4 junior Eric Brown, tipped it in at the buzzer for a 35-18 halftime lead. It never got closer.
Knight had 19 points at halftime and finished with 29. Almost all of that came in the paint.
"That's the most he's been inside all year," said Taul. "Tonight we put three big guys in the paint. Usually you can't do that because it puts six guys in the paint, but Burlington wasn't that big.
"For putting it (the new offense) in in 15 minutes during practice last night, the kids did a good job running it. We had to stick it inside. They knew that after the first quarter that's all we needed to do," he said.
For Knight, the new spot on the floor was odd, but good.
"It felt different, but it felt comfortable," said Knight.
Taul lauded his guards for doing what they were supposed to do get the ball inside.
"The guards were unselfish again," said Taul. "Everyone did their job. I told them I didn't want them shooting from outside. The only thing we had to do was get back on defense and guard the 3-pointers."
Cosman was also in double figures with 21 points.
Now BHS will move on to the second-round game of the Baldwin Sub-State on Thursday. That will probably be against Louisburg and will probably be the late game, 8 p.m. BHS beat Louisburg Friday night on the road.
Taul isn't looking ahead past Louisburg, either.
"It's one game at a time," he said. "If it's meant to be, it's meant to be. Right now I'm more concerned about what we do, not who we play."
If BHS wins the Thursday game, it would be onto the sub-state finals Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the junior high gym. If they lose Thursday, the Bulldogs will be done for the season.