BHS tops Paola for second win
For the first time in a long time, Baldwin High School had a complete varsity lineup Jan. 7 at Paola. For the first time this season, the Bulldogs put four quarters together and the combination resulted in a 64-55 victory.
It came at a tough place to play, Paola, and against a team that was as desperate for a victory. It also came on the heals of a 46-point beating by Ottawa when BHS was without a pair of starters.
It all spelt the need for a win.
"We knew they would really be fighting for the win themselves," said coach Jeff Haas. "That's a tough win to get on the road. We had several people step up in their roles as team leaders before, during and after the game."
It showed on the floor. BHS went up 15-9 in the first quarter, thanks in large part to the 3-point shooting of junior standout Andrew Hannon and senior Joe Gipp. Senior post Brian Lauridsen also played big with an old-fashioned three-point play and a layup.
It was more of the same in the second quarter and back-to-back 3-pointers by Hannon with two minutes left helped BHS fashion a 30-22 halftime lead. Only once this season have the Bulldogs led at halftime and that wasn't in their previous win. It was a different feeling.
When Hannon banked in an eight-footer with 3:47 left in the third quarter, BHS had its biggest lead of the night at 38-25. But, that's also when the whistles really started blowing against the Bulldogs. From that point on, Paola used inside shots and 10 free throw attempts to none for BHS to whittle away at the lead.
It got down to three points before a Hannon layup with 1:10 left and Lauridsen's eight-footer with just 40 seconds remaining had BHS on top 42-36 heading into the final frame. The 6-foot-2 senior also had a follow shot to open the fourth quarter to put BHS up 44-36. From there, it was close.
Paola continued its trek to the free throw line, but luckily the Panthers couldn't convert. Paola cut it to four points before Gipp hit a 3-pointer at the 5:03 mark to again give the Bulldogs some breathing room. Another Gipp 3 a minute later put BHS up 52-42. Lauridsen pushed the bulge to 12 with a layup with 1:42 left and BHS held on from there.
Haas said it was refreshing to have a full bench and all of the starters in the lineup again.
"Offensively when Andy and Joe are playing off each other in our halfcourt sets, we can be dangerous," he said. "As for our defense, it was great to have Micah (Mason) back because he plays such good defense. We're going to need him to do that on many nights from here on out. I thought he was another big key."
Hannon ended with 27 points, including three of five from the 3-point line. He was also six of six at the free throw line and had five assists. Gipp added 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Lauridsen had 13 points and six boards.
"It makes us a different team to have everyone playing," said Haas. "We needed Joe to supplement Andy's offense and Micah's defense. Brian is also coming around on offense and has found his niche, which is helping, too."
It's all coming together just in time for a big two week run for BHS. They played host to Osage City Tuesday night, but results weren't available before press time. The Bulldogs also have home games Friday against Gardner and Saturday against Riley County. The following week is the Baldwin Invitational Tournament, so in essence the Bulldogs have two tournaments back-to-back.
"Tuesday was a huge game at home," said Haas. "It was a chance for us to build some momentum. It will likely make a difference for the seventh or eighth seed in the BIT. Osage City is 2-0 against us as a Class 3A team. I see it as a pivotal game for us.
"It will be a pre-tournament tournament at home for us," he said. "We need the opportunity to get on the floor over there. I hope the crowd will be a factor each night. If we get our crowd like I think we will, it will be a big factor. It's a big week. Riley County is undefeated and ranked No. 1 in Class 3A."
The BIT will be Jan. 21, Jan. 24 and Jan. 25. Ottawa will probably be the No. 1 seed and handed the Bulldogs a lopsided loss to open the 2003 portion of the schedule.
"They beat Paola 80-55 and will likely be the No. 1 seed," Haas said. "It's good to have quality competition. It's going to be tough as nails."