Top Gun title II goes to BHS
For the second year in a row, the Baldwin High School girls brought home the championship trophy from Wellsville's Top Gun Tournament. Saturday's title tilt wasn't easy, though, as BHS could only beat St. Mary's 50-42.
"We are champs again," said coach Eric Toot. "We didn't play very well offensively, but I think you have to give St. Mary's credit. They had a good game plan to slow us down. We struggled at times making some decisions.
"It was a great tournament, a great week. On Thursday night, we played great," Toot said of the 68-37 thrashing the Bulldogs put on Gardner Thursday. They opened the tourney with a 64-33 thumping of Anderson County. "I was real pleased with the week. It's always good when you can win a championship. There aren't too many teams around that can say they are champions."
But, that title didn't come easily. For some reason, the Bulldogs turned the ball over and over and over ... By the time the game was over, there were 25 turnovers for BHS, which is way more than usual.
"We just made a lot of unforced turnovers that we haven't done all year," he said. "I can live with basketball turnovers, but for some reason we weren't very fundamentally sound."
The Bulldogs had four of those turnovers in the first quarter and trailed 9-8. They more than doubled that in the second quarter with nine and trailed for most of it until senior guard Kayla Pringle nailed a 3-pointer with just 40 seconds left to put BHS up 20-18. St. Mary's answered, however, and it was tied at 20-20 at the half.
But then the Bulldogs snapped out of it in the third quarter to make the run that made the difference. BHS outscored St. Mary's 20-8 in the third and slowed the turnovers back down. There was a little bit of everything, too, but mostly lots of Emily Brown and Anna Skaggs. Brown scored nine points, including a 3-pointer and an 18-footer at the buzzer. Skaggs had seven points, including a 3-pointer.
That offensive rebirth put BHS up 40-28 heading into the fourth quarter. It was enough to hold off St. Mary's, which outscored the Bulldogs 14-10 down the stretch. The Raiders actually pulled within five at the 1:55 mark and after a BHS turnover had a chance to cut it even closer. But the Raiders missed the front end of a one-and-one and junior Kari Garrison pretty much sealed the deal with a layup and corresponding free throw after she was fouled. Thirty seconds later Skaggs hit a pair of free throws for a 50-42 lead that stood the rest of the way.
"Defensively I thought we played real well all night, although we let them get inside a little more than usual," said Toot. "But with our aggressive defense and their ability, that's going to happen.
"We actually shot the ball well (19 of 31). When we actually got in the offense we did well. The turnovers just hurt us," he said. "That shows the type of team we are. We didn't play well, but we won."
Brown ended the night with 14 points and Skaggs was right behind with 12. In the Gardner blow out, Skaggs had a career-high 29 points and Brown had 20. Both made the all-tournament team.
"Both were well deserving selections to the team," said Toot. "Both had excellent tournaments."
As for the Top Gun "repeat," the third-year head coach doesn't put much stock into it.
"We really didn't talk about back-to-back because it's a different team," he said. "Every year is a new team, so we don't talk much about repeat."
The victories moved BHS's record to 13-1 overall, with that lone loss coming against Frontier League foe Spring Hill. However, that was in the Eudora tournament, so BHS still has a clean league slate. There will be plenty of league action coming up, including Friday's home game against Prairie View, which is a much improved team this year.
"We play Prairie View Friday and they are third in the league and playing pretty good basketball," said Toot. "They are 10-3 and just beat Paola by 20. They're a good team and they will be excited to play us.
"It's a big night with King and Queen of Courts and we always like to play at home," he said.
Tip-off for the girls will be around 6:30 p.m. in the junior high gym. The junior varsity will play at 5 p.m. and the freshmen at 8 p.m. The King and Queen of Courts ceremony is scheduled between the girls' game and the boys' game, which means somewhere around 8 p.m.
After that, BHS has league games at Eudora Feb. 14 and at home Feb. 18 against Spring Hill.