Cyclones use press to dispatch Bulldogs
Being on the short side of players and experience proved to be a terrible way for the Baldwin High School Bulldogs to open the New Year against always-tough Ottawa Friday night on the road. The result was a 78-32 whipping that won't be forgotten soon.
Or at least coach Jeff Haas hopes the lessons were learned in the blowout.
"It's one of those experiences that if we choose to learn from it, we will gain from it in the long run," said Haas. "In the short run, it's a blow. I like to look at the positives. We played 11 kids who got to see what it's like to play against a top-ranked team and we were playing without a couple of key players."
The Bulldogs have little if any depth. Take standout junior Micah Mason from the lineup who was attending a football combine for the second year in a row and all-league guard Joe Gipp who was still nursing an injured ankle, and BHS was hurting.
Despite missing two starters, the Bulldogs opened the game in good fashion and were only down 14-10 after the first quarter. Then the wheels fell off.
"In the first quarter we basically set out doing what we intended to do. That was to control the temp and keep the ball in our court," said Haas. "In the second quarter, the flood gates opened."
Using their standard full-court press, the Cyclones put a 32-5 run together in the second quarter that buried BHS. Turnovers and layups off the press fueled the fire.
"We were out manned all the way down the lineup and the bench except at point guard," he said. "We can't simulate Ottawa in practice, so there was no way to be ready for that."
During one stretch of that onslaught, Ottawa outscored BHS 28-0.
"To me, I'm not one to take a lot of time outs. I think lessons in life and in basketball are learned the hard way," said Haas. "We have a number of press break options. Because we were missing the starters, we put some kids in tough positions. They're tough and resilient and they learned from it."
Ottawa provided a few more lessons in the third quarter with a 21-9 advantage before finally pulling out of the press. The Cyclones improved to 5-1, while BHS fell to 1-6. Junior Andrew Hannon topped the Bulldogs with 12 points and seniors Brian Lauridsen and Anthony Myrick both chipped in with seven.
Haas believes the team will rally around themselves from here on out.
"I've been here before with two teams and both times we've been able to dig out and get better," he said. "As far as I'm concerned I have those experiences to draw from and hopefully that will mean something.
"The kids know we're short handed and young," said Haas. "Patience is the key. I think since the break our practices have been more spirited and physical. The light bulbs are starting to flicker on around practice. It's a challenge. We will get the fruits of our labor."
He also used Saturday's game story in the Journal-World to try and motivate the team. It wasn't kind to the Bulldogs and didn't bother to mention that they were without two starters.
"You don't know what's going to motivate every individual," he said of the story and headline. "But I like the way the guys were rallying around each other Saturday at practice. They were closer together. It's basketball. I accept the challenges there. We're going to circle it up and get stronger."
BHS played Paola on the road Tuesday night, but results weren't available by press time. Haas was hopeful that for the first time this season all varsity players would be available.
"The pieces all need to be there. That would be a start to have every varsity uniform filled," he said. "I believe Micah will be back for the game. Health wise, Joe is ready to go. He practiced Saturday in a limited role and he was fine."
Haas is looking forward to a full lineup and the rest of the season.
"We're always looking forward to the challenges ahead," he said. "This is high school athletics. If we're not doing that, then what are we doing? I can't wait until Tuesday. Paola has struggle a bit and really going to want to win at home
"I would be surprised and disappointed if we let them take it to us after that Ottawa game. I think it's given us some extra incentive. It's a bad taste we want to get out of our mouths," Haas said.
The Bulldogs will return home for three games next week. On Jan. 14 they'll face Osage City, on Jan. 17 Gardner and Jan. 18 Riley County.