Bulldog slide continues with three losses
It was a long week for the Baldwin High School Bulldogs. A real long week.
The opened Jan. 21 with a 61-48 loss to Osage City and ended it Saturday with a 57-48 loss to Riley County, both Class 3A schools. Riley County, however, is ranked No. 1 in that division. Sandwiched in between those losses was a third, that one Friday to Frontier League foe Gardner-Edgerton by a 58-51 count.
While the results were far from what he wanted, second-year head coach Jeff Haas was at least pleased with the effort Saturday against one of the state's best teams.
"As far as Saturday goes, you always want to win, but we did a good job staying in the game against a good team," said Haas. "They are unbeaten and No. 1 in Class 3A and we played with them.
"Jordie Nelson is the best player we've faced," he said of Riley's standout senior. "He had 27 points in three quarters. We held the No. 1 kid to no points in the fourth quarter. I was encouraged by that."
BHS led 15-14 after the first quarter, but trailed 30-26 at halftime. Riley County used a 17-9 surge in the third frame to take control. The Bulldogs battled back for a 13-10 advantage in the fourth, but it wasn't enough.
Junior guard Andrew Hannon had 21 points to pace BHS and was the lone player in double digits.
Against Gardner, Haas also had a glimmer of good play despite the loss.
"In the Gardner game Friday I was proud of the overall defensive effort," he said. "The ball pressure we applied was our best of the season. It was one of those good, old-fashioned scrums that could have gone either way."
BHS was ahead by four points heading into the fourth quarter, but saw the Trailblazers put together a 20-9 run that spelled doom. Junior Joe Gipp topped the Bulldogs with 18 points, Hannon had 14 and senior Brian Lauridsen had 11.
As for Tuesday's loss to Osage City, Haas would just as soon forget about it. BHS limped to just three points in the first quarter and 12 in the first half to trail 24-12. The Bulldogs had a 16-14 advantage in the third frame, but Osage bounced back 23-20 in the fourth to take the win.
"We weren't where we needed to be with our focus and it was evident before the game even started," Haas said of the Osage loss. "That was Tuesday and we've played a couple of good games since then. Our pregame mindset has changed since then. We hadn't had that problem before."
Hannon was the lone player in double digits in the loss with 21 points. The three setbacks left BHS with a 2-9 record heading into this week's Baldwin Invitational Tournament. The Bulldogs played No. 1 seed Ottawa Tuesday night, but results weren't available by press time.
Last week also ushered in a new round of player losses. Junior post player Brad Ikenberry was lost probably for the season Wednesday with a broken hand. Several players came down sick with the flu bug that has bitten Baldwin.
"Our team is learning how to fight adversity, so really it's what I want is the team to be there. I told them to work to stay healthy, maintain a positive mindset and work our tails off to get better every time on the floor, whether it's practice or games," Haas said. "The rotation is something we still don't have because we don't have all of our players.
"It's hard to steady the ship with only part of the crew," he said. "We need to be here. We've had higher absenteeism that any team I've ever been around."
That's been tough to deal with, but Haas is still hopeful the season can be salvaged.
"I still see the team as a team of possibilities," he said. "We're still at the flicker stage. We see flickers of hope. The flu bug hit us pretty hard. Our stance is the same as earlier in the month when we didn't have all of our players."