Roller coaster ride for BHS boys
There was a wild roller coaster ride last week for the Baldwin High School Bulldogs. They went way up with two big wins, one over Osawatomie Tuesday to lock in the No. 4 sub-state seed and an even bigger one Friday at Louisburg.
But, boy, did that roller coaster plummet on Saturday. BHS showed its killer first-quarter look, followed by nothing in a 57-45 loss to Eudora in a make-up game.
"The kids felt like after Tuesday and Friday, everything was coming together, we were playing together as a team," said coach Bobby Taul. "Then we had the meltdown on Saturday. That may help us out. Maybe that woke us up."
Fresh off Friday's 61-54 win over Louisburg, BHS showed up Saturday for the 1 p.m. game playing like gangbusters. The Bulldogs rolled to a 17-4 first-quarter lead, with 6-foot-5 senior Heath Knight scoring 11 of those points. Knight wouldn't score again and Eudora went on a 17-5 run in the second quarter. The Cardinals used a full-court press in the second quarter and followed it in the third frame to take command of the game.
Taul had hoped the game would be a final tune-up for Monday's opening game in sub-state. Instead, the disaster will be used as a motivator play like that again and the season is over.
"Hopefully it does that," said Taul. "You have one bad night and it's over now. Hopefully we learned Saturday that they don't want to play like that. Maybe we got the bad one out of the way.
"When it comes to sub-state and state, it's whoever gets on a roll," he said. "Hopefully we can look back on last year's experience and that will serve as a taste to get back to state. It's the biggest game of our life Monday. They have to play every game from here on out like it's their last game. They're fighting for their life."
That worked in the win over Osawatomie and again against Louisburg. The Bulldogs had to beat Osawatomie to earn the fourth seed at the Baldwin-based sub-state and grab a first-round home game. Against Louisburg, BHS needed to win to claim at least part of second place in the Frontier League. The Bulldogs did both. And, the Louisburg win was especially big because the Wildcats are the No. 1 seed in the Baldwin sub-state.
"Friday going down and beating the No. 1 seed on their home court was big. We sent a message," said Taul. "I think in both games we went out and played liked we were supposed to do. We were successful doing what we should some fundamental things, like taking the ball to the paint, going where our power is inside. We were eight for eight in the paint against Louisburg.
"We went back to what was successful for us in the past pounding the ball inside," he said. "The guards were unselfish to get the ball inside. That also opens it up for them on the outside. When we go to the free throw line 20 to 25 times, we win. If we go 15 or fewer, we lose. We put two good games back-to-back Tuesday and Friday."
Against Osawatomie, BHS hit 20 of 28 from the free throw line. Against Louisburg, it was 18 of 30. In the Saturday debacle against Eudora, BHS was 14 of 18. Not a bad percentage, but not enough action.
Scoring wise, 6-4 senior Ben Cosman led the way against Osawatomie with 17 points and Knight was right behind with 16. Against Louisburg, Knight had again had 16 points, with 6-4 junior Eric Brown next with 14 and 6-4 senior Luke Tutschulte adding a dozen.
The 2-1 final week of the regular season left BHS with a 13-6 record heading into sub-state play. The fourth spot isn't always good.
"We didn't get an easy draw," said Taul. "That 4-5 spot is the toughest. Burlington (BHS's first-round opponent) is tough. They've got some good guards."
If the Bulldogs win Monday, they'd likely face No. 1 seed Louisburg in a rematch Thursday, which would probably be the late game. Game times are not determined until after Monday's first round. Second and third round games will be at Baldwin Junior High School. The championship game and its ticket to the state tournament in Salina will be Saturday at 7:30 p.m.