Early run buries Hayden as BHS holds on
Make no mistake. Baldwin High School coach Bobby Taul was pleased with his Bulldog's 56-42 victory over Topeka Hayden Monday night. But it was a near repeat of recent troubles that had him concerned.
Baldwin High raced to an unmerciful 17-5 first-quarter lead. A blow out was eminent. But the Bulldogs have been making a habit of huge first-quarter leads, only to see them dissolve. Not quite this time. The onslaught continued in the second frame and BHS was up 25-5 after an Eric Black 5-footer with 3:26 left in the half.
That was the last of the 20-point leads. Hayden started hitting the 3-pointers and knocked it down to 28-17 at halftime. After an initial spurt in the third quarter Hayden started coming back. That's what had Taul's concern.
"We've got to develop the killer instinct," said Taul. "I don't care who it is. We've got to learn to put people away. There's no reason we can't come out in the second and third quarters and play like we do in the first quarter.
"We tend to put it on cruise control after we get off to a big lead," he said. "If you put it on cruise, you tend to get in trouble."
BHS has been troubled with that all season, but especially in the last few weeks. It cost the Bulldogs the title game of the Baldwin Invitational Tournament. It's cost a couple of other games, too. BHS tends to go up big in the first quarter and then coast ... often to disaster.
That wasn't quite the script Monday and it might bode well for BHS from here on out.
"We had a good first quarter, the second quarter was not so bad, but the third quarter we came down with five straight turnovers and didn't score," said Taul. "The good thing was they weren't scoring either.
"In the first half, you do whatever you have to do to get the lead. Then the first three minutes of the second half are so important," he said. "For us, we've just got to learn to start putting people away."
Before BHS hit its third-quarter lull, 6-foot-5 senior Heath Knight put three points up with an 8-footer and a free throw. That put the Bulldogs up 31-17. They were able to keep Hayden at bay and ended the third frame with the same 11-point lead they had at the half, 40-29.
Hayden cut it as close as seven points with 2:42 remaining, but that was as close as the Wildcats would get. Senior guard Tony Zuzzio hit four free throws, Knight came up with a blocked shot that turned into a fast-break slam-dunk and senior Ben Cosman closed it out with a layup for the final 14-point margin.
Knight wound up with 20 points; Cosman had nine; Black and Zuzzio both had seven; and senior Luke Tutschulte had six. The victory moved BHS's record to 9-4 on the season. Next up is Friday's Winter Sports Festival games against Prairie View. Game times are 5 p.m. for the junior varsity, 6:30 p.m. for the freshmen and 8 p.m. for the varsity.
The JV and freshmen also won Monday night. It took a pair of overtimes for the JV before they took a 74-68 win. The freshmen topped Hayden 35-31.