Bulldogs fall to top notch teams
Baldwin High School's Bulldog boys went head-long into a pair of ranked teams last week. The result was a pair of losses, one by a lot and the other by not so many.
The Bulldogs boarded the bus Tuesday for a two-and-a-half hour journey north of Manhattan to take on Riley County High School, a top-ranked Class 3A team. BHS dropped that one 61-56. Friday night it was a relatively short jaunt to Spring Hill. Unfortunately, that's where the No. 1-ranked Class 4A team resides and the Bulldogs took an 88-63 whipping.
Now all that remains in the season are two games this week, a weather-related make-up game at Prairie View Thursday and the regular-season finale Friday at home against Louisburg. That will be the senior's last home game and recognition night.
It won't count towards seeding for the what's turned into the real season now sub-state. Chances are BHS will be seeded No. 4, 5 or 6 for the sub-state at DeSoto's Mill Valley. The first-round game will be played Tuesday. If BHS is the fourth seed, it will be a home game. A fifth- or sixth-seed means a road game. Regardless, the Bulldogs are needing to focus on this week's wrap-up games to get ready for sub-state play.
"We just need to be ready for the post season," said coach Jeff Haas. "Playing Spring Hill gets you ready for that. We also have two games this week to get ready with.
"I know the kids will be excited to play games to get ready," said Haas. "We need to play physical, take care of the boards. If we do that, everything else will take care of itself. It's time for the seniors to lead the way for us. This week will help us gauge if that's going to happen."
As for last week's games, it was a story of two losses one the long trip and the second a short one.
"That's a long bus ride two-and-a-half hours," Haas said of the road to Riley County. "I thought we came out ready to play despite that. It's a good venue."
BHS played the No. 3-ranked Riley Countians even in the first quarter, 9-9, but had a second-quarter lapse that led to a 29-23 deficit.
"Unfortunately for us in the game, we had one short span in the second quarter where we didn't concentrate," he said. "We got out hustled on the last play of the half and it cost us a bucket."
Baldwin High came back in the second half, but it wasn't enough. It was a 12-12 standoff in the third quarter and a 21-20 advantage in the fourth fell short.
"There were a couple of times in the second half when we didn't communicate well and we hadn't done that all season," said Haas. "We used the full-court press to make it close in the fourth quarter and pulled within three. But, like a lot of games this year, we just couldn't quite get back in there."
BHS was led by junior Joe Gipp's 20 points, with 18 of those coming on 3-pointers, including three in the fourth quarter. Senior Eric Brown was close behind with 16 points and senior Eric Black added 10.
The Bulldogs were done in by the Nelson brothers, with Jordy Nelson tossing in 23 points and Mike adding 18. The Nelsons were a combined 16 of 17 from the free throw line.
"They had a good team with a pair of brothers that were really good," he said. "Those guys were good."
It didn't get better Friday night against No. 1-ranked Spring Hill, because those guys are good, too. The Broncos jumped out to a 26-16 first-quarter lead and put it away with a 25-15 third-quarter run.
"They're an outstanding team," Haas said of the Broncos. "They do a good job of sharing the ball and spreading out the fouls. To beat Spring Hill, you have to get physical with them on the boards. You have to attack the basket and hit your free throws."
BHS did neither. The Bulldogs went to the line 36 times, but only hit 22. They tried to counter with the 3-pointers, which was successful in the first half thanks to senior Eric Black, who hit a career-high three, but it didn't hold. Gipp hit only three of 11 from the arc and junior Andrew Hannon was 1-of-4 for a combined 7-of-19.
Spring Hill countered with four 3s, all by stand-out senior Paul Ray who had a game-high 21 points. Instead, the Broncos used a steady stream of closer shots to build their lead.
"Ray is an excellent player," he said. "He finds a way to score and gets his teammates the ball. We didn't play him close enough in the first half when he got his 3s. They keep coming at you. They made 20 twos. They know how to shoot the ball and like to see their opponents shooting at the free throw line."
Spring Hill's size was also a big factor. Not only did the Broncos control the boards, but they also intimidated the Bulldogs, especially inside.
"There were a multitude of shots from two feet or less that we missed and that had to do with Spring Hill being physical," he said.
The loss dropped BHS's record to 8-10 on the year. Hannon topped the scoring with 15 points, followed by Gipp's 14 and a career-high 13 from Black, all of which came in the first half.
"They made an adjustment on Black in the second half," said Haas. "He didn't get the same looks at the basket."