Iola spoils state plans for BHS girls
Upset pretty much describes what happened to the Baldwin High School girls in Class 4A Sub-State play at home last Wednesday.
First, the Bulldogs were upset 49-43 by the Iola Fillies, a team that entered the tournament as the No. 6 seeded team and had an 8-11 record. Secondly, the BHS girls were plenty upset with what happened. The tears flowed as an otherwise wonderful season came crashing to an abrupt halt.
"We were disappointed, very disappointed," said coach Eric Toot. "I thought it was a great season that ended disappointedly. We did everything we could to get in the position we were in. We just picked a bad time to have a bad game."
BHS entered the tourney with a sterling 17-3 record and was the No. 3 seed. But the lightly regarded Fillies were the undoing of the Bulldogs. Toot knew they were better than their 8-11 record reflected.
"I knew it was going to be a tough game," he said. "I'd seen them play and I'd seen them on film. We caught a hot team. They started the season off 1-7 and came on at the end. They were playing seniors at the first of the season, but about Christmas they started playing the sophomores we saw. The lost five games by less than four points. We won four games like that."
BHS found out the Fillies were for real and found it out early as they jumped to a 15-9 first-quarter lead. The Bulldogs were also saddled with some tough shooting luck and their Achilles heel all season turnovers.
"We had 17 turnovers and that was against a zone, so that wasn't very good at all," said Toot.
Although BHS was troubled off and on throughout the season with turnovers, the Bulldogs had cut the miscues way down while compiling a seven-game winning streak going into sub-state play. In their last game, they only had eight turnovers. That doubled against Iola.
It didn't get much better for BHS in the second quarter and Iola was up 20-9 midway through. A six-point mini-surge in the last three minutes helped BHS start to crawl back in. Freshman Emily Brown started it with an inside move, which junior Colleen Kivett duplicated a minute later. Then senior Mandy Moore hit a 5-footer at the buzzer and BHS was down 22-15 at the half.
But the Bulldogs showed another hallmark of their season in the third quarter and came up with a real run to get back in the game. Kivett and Brown started it with a pair of inside buckets. Kivett then hit a 3-footer and a 3-pointer in a span of 35 seconds to pull BHS within one at 25-24. After an exchange of buckets, BHS junior Jodie Bacon canned another 3-pointer to tie it at 29-29 with 3:43 left. After trading free throws, junior Casey Millstein gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game at 32-31 when she hit a 3-footer with 15 seconds left. That's how the quarter ended.
"We made a great run in the third quarter," said Toot. "We've come back so many times during the season, I thought 'here we go again.' But, it eventually catches up to you. Iola kept their composure. That 13 (Dorsey) was just on fire."
A pair of 3-footers by sophomore Anna Skaggs helped BHS build a 38-35 lead with 4:42 remaining. Sophomore Katie Martin hit a pair of free throws at the 4:16 mark to preserve that three-point edge at 40-37. From there, it was all Iola.
It came down to free throws the Fillies hit theirs and the Bulldogs didn't and turnovers. Iola hit six important free throws to go along with three field goals in the final three-plus minutes. BHS could counter with just three free throws. That and turnovers proved deadly.
"We were five for 10 on free throws in the fourth quarter, but we also missed two front ends of one-and-ones," he said. "We also had five turnovers in the fourth quarter.
"At this time of the season, it's one and done," said Toot of the finality of sub-state play. "We by no means lost to a slouch."
Iola almost beat Ottawa Friday night in the semi-finals. The Fillies had the Cyclones down by five points with two minutes left, but couldn't hold it. Ottawa went on to claim the sub-state crown and advance to the Class 4A State Tournament in Salina.
Kivett was the lone Bulldog in double digits with 11 points, but Skaggs was close with nine. The loss ended BHS's season with a 17-4 record.
Toot hopes the team, which will return all starters except senior Suzie Weege, will learn from the bitter loss and work hard towards that state trip next year.
"We'll find out," he said. "I hope it was a learning experience. I told the girls it was the most disappointing game I'd ever been involved with, both playing and coaching.
"I hope it doesn't take anything away from the great season we had," he said. "I hope they learn from it. The great thing about our team is we've got young kids who really love to play and I think they'll all be involved on a team during the summer."