Bulldogs bounce back in BIT
Baldwin High School played No. 1-ranked Ottawa to the wire to open last week's Baldwin Invitational Tournament, then the Bulldogs stubbed their toe against Lincoln Academy in the second round before bouncing back with a big 56-38 victory Saturday against arch-rival Wellsville.
"It was a total team victory," said coach Jeff Haas. "We shared the ball and played good defense. We won the battle of the boards and had more assists than turnovers.
"I definitely commend the guys for coming back from Friday in an attack mindset," said Haas.
BHS went right at it in Saturday's game for seventh place, jumping out to an 18-6 first quarter lead. The Bulldogs showed no ill effects from the previous night's loss. Or at least not until the second quarter.
Wellsville jumped into a 1-3-1 zone in the second frame and it befuddled the Bulldogs. The Eagles crept back in the game and took the lead at 21-20. A follow shot by senior post Anthony Myrick gave BHS the lead back for good and the first half ended with the Bulldogs up 22-21.
"In the Wellsville second quarter, the 1-3-1 zone threw us," he said. "We hadn't seen it before, although we had practiced against it. We came back in the second half and they were still in it and we figured it out with the adjustments we made at halftime.
"The emphasis at halftime is to start the second half strong," said Haas. "That is such an important part of the game and we haven't always had the intensity level then like we should. Saturday we were able to do that."
Senior post Brian Lauridsen kicked off the second half with an old-fashioned three point play that signaled what was to come. It started a 15-0 run that put BHS up 37-21 with 3:20 left in the quarter. Lauridsen did most of the damage, too, with 11 of those 15 points.
Wellsville finally scored, but layups by juniors B.T. Turk and Andrew Hannon put the Bulldogs up 41-25 at the end of the frame. Lauridsen did the same to start the fourth quarter with an inside shot that gave BHS its largest lead of the night at 43-25. From there, the Bulldogs matched the Eagles bucket for bucket for the final 18-point margin.
Everyone had a hand in the act, too. Lauridsen and Hannon had 15 points apiece. There was balance from there with Myrick having six points, senior Joe Gipp and freshman Jeremy Wright both with five, four from freshman Ryan Jorgensen and two each from junior Edd Stansberry, Turk and junior Micah Mason.
As for the other numbers, BHS won the battle of the boards -- which the Bulldogs have done in all three of their wins -- 27-21. Hannon had seven rebounds and Lauridsen five. The Bulldogs had 14 assists to 12 turnovers, a major turnaround. Gipp had five assists to lead that category.
"Everyone contributed, very much so," said Haas. "I think a part of that is the resiliency of our team and the simplified game plan which includes defense."
The second-year head coach has discovered with this year's group of young Bulldogs that there can't be too much on the game-plan side.
"One of the things I'm learning about this team is when we have a simple game plan, we execute much better," he said. "I want us to be able to do lots of different things, but we're a young team and we're better when it's simple. We had a simplified game plan against Wellsville.
"We have so many players from different classes that have never played together," he said. "It's started to form, but we don't have very many games left."
That simplified plan was also the case in the tourney opener against Ottawa. The Bulldogs wanted to control the tempo against the run-and-gun, full-court pressing Cyclones. Earlier in January Ottawa hung a 46-point loss on the Bulldogs and no one wanted to see that again.
Ottawa opened a 16-7 first-quarter lead and was up 27-14 at halftime. The Cyclones extended that by two in the third quarter, but BHS came up with a 15-4 run in the fourth quarter that made it close. Hannon had 23 of BHS's 39 points.
"The Ottawa game showed what we're capable of when we're focused and sharp," said Haas. "It was a moral victory. We don't want to get started with those, but we'll take that one for now. It showed we've gained a lot of ground since our previous meeting.
"I think we're headed in the right direction and I think we have been since before the tournament," he said. "The number of games that we have lost has brought our team together and sparked the competitiveness of our players. I think that's a good thing."
What wasn't good, was the Lincoln Academy game Friday. A 3-pointer by Gipp at the buzzer left BHS trailing 22-20 at halftime. Hannon hit a 3-pointer to open the second half, but it was all down hill from there. BHS ended up losing 57-37.
"The Lincoln game was an aberration," said Haas. "They had a totally different style and personnel -- big wide bodies and little quick guys in the back court."
The 1-2 finish for seventh in the 34th-annual BIT -- which Augusta won in double overtime 62-58 over Ottawa -- left BHS with a 3-11 record. Wellsville stands at 4-8 and the teams square off again Friday at Wellsville.
"This rematch is going to be a lot of fun," said Haas. "We expect their emotions and intensity will be higher. We're preparing for that. Frankly, I think we can play better."
Then there's a rare Saturday game when BHS plays host to Pembroke Hill. Those games will start at 1 p.m. in the BHS gym.