Bulldogs lose thriller in the ‘pit’ this time
There was a night of joy and heart break back-to-back for the Baldwin High School Bulldogs last week.
On Thursday, BHS put together a tremendous second half to bounce Prairie View 81-55. But Friday, the Bulldogs saw their home-court magic fall short when Louisburg got a questionable foul called with :0.5 left in overtime, sank one of two free throws and pulled out a 60-59 victory.
The key to both games were performances by 6-foot-4 senior Eric Brown. Brown scored 32 points and hauled down 26 rebounds during the two-day run.
"They were interesting game in their own way," said coach Jeff Haas. "In the second half of the Prairie View game I thought we played good defense and made some adjustments on offense. It helps to have Eric Brown score 17 points and grab 12 rebounds.
"Then he followed that with 15 points, 14 rebounds and four charges against Louisburg. That's a big night for anyone and especially for Eric Brown," said Haas, adding that the foul called on the senior with less than a second left in the overtime should have never happened. "It was a terrible injustice at the end."
But, BHS didn't need to be in that spot. The Bulldogs had their chances to win the game both in regulation and overtime. BHS had a golden opportunity with 1:16 left in regulation when Louisburg was whistled for a technical after a foul on sophomore guard Andrew Hannon. Hannon converted the technical, but missed the one-and-one. That pulled BHS with 52-51 and BHS got the ball.
The Bulldogs went to Brown, who was fouled, and converted the two shots for a 53-52 lead. On Louisburg's trip down the court, Brown drew one of those charges. Again he went to the line, hitting both, for a 55-52 lead with 28 seconds left.
It could have been over there. But Louisburg hit a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left to tie it up at 55. BHS called time out, set up a play, but it fell apart. Joe Gipp's desperation 3-pointer missed and it was onto overtime.
Louisburg opened the extra period with a bucket, but BHS's other starting post player, 6-3 senior Hugh Murphy, answered inside to re-knot the score. After a Louisburg miss, the Bulldogs again went to the inside game, hitting Brown with a pass. He was fouled and calmly sank both free throws for a 59-57 lead.
Brown then made a steal on Louisburg's next possession and again BHS could have claimed the victory. Instead, the Bulldogs put up an unneeded shot and the Wildcats had the ball. That resulted in a pair of missed free throws and again BHS had a chance to put the game away with 1:51 left. Instead, the Bulldogs turned the ball over.
This time Louisburg took advantage with a layup to put the score at 59-59 with 43 seconds left. That left the Bulldogs plenty of time. They worked the clock to under 10 seconds and started in on a play. Gipp saw Hannon streaking towards the basket and threw a pass at him that harmlessly went out of bounds with two ticks left.
That's when the unthinkable happened. Instead of another overtime, Louisburg got the questionable foul call with five-tenths of a second left and won the game with a free throw.
"The biggest thing we got from Friday night was getting to play overtime and how that will help us get ready for the post season," said Haas. "We need to keep working on getting ready."
Another good sign for the post season was BHS's performance at the free throw line, where the Bulldogs sank 16 of 21, including clutch shots in the waning minutes of regulation and the overtime. The Bulldogs have struggled at times at the line, but this time there was a different struggle.
"Louisburg was a nice night for us at the free throw line," he said. "I was disappointed in the disparity Louisburg shot 35 free throws. I wasn't disappointed in our defense."
Along with Brown's 15 points, Hannon had 15 and Murphy 12. Murphy was also big on the boards as the he and Brown combined to dominate the inside.
"I talked to them at practice Saturday and asked them if they saved the best for the last," Haas said of the senior duo. "If they continue to play like that, we'll surprise some people in the post season."
In Thursday's game, BHS opened quickly with a 22-16 first-quarter advantage, but saw that slip away in the second frame when Prairie View answered with a 25-17 surge to take the lead at halftime. BHS opened the third quarter with four straight turnovers and it didn't look good. However, Prairie View couldn't convert any of those opportunities and the Bulldogs then went on an 18-4 run to take control of the game and followed it with a 23-10 fourth-quarter advantage for the lopsided win.
"It wasn't a great start after our talk at halftime, but we got it going," he said. "We took off."
Brown and Gipp both had 17 points, Hannon added 15 and it was balanced scoring from there. The split left BHS with a 9-11 heading into sub-state play. The Bulldogs played Kansas Bishop Ward Tuesday night at home, but results weren't available by press time. Haas was looking forward to it.
"I've enjoyed watching us play the last six quarters," he said, adding between Friday's exciting finish and the previous home game where BHS won on a last-second shot, the home environment has proven to be good. "It's been so much fun over there at the pit.
"It's an awesome environment over there," said Haas. "I couldn't ask any more from the student section or the rest of the fans. It we can bring the crowd like we had against Eudora and Louisburg, we'll have the sixth-man advantage."
If BHS won that game, the Bulldogs advanced to the Mill Valley sub-state semifinals Friday at 7:30 p.m. If they lost, the season is over.