Bulldogs get hot in sub-state opener
PIPER -- Finally, the 3s were falling and everything else clicked for the Baldwin High School Bulldogs. They put it all together and won 68-61 over Kansas City Piper at the right time -- the sub-state opener here Monday night.
"It was a fun one," said coach Jeff Haas. "I went up and down the bench and asked 'how does it feel to be playing again.' If I may say so, we deserve it. It was raining 3s."
BHS had been bitten by the 3s not falling in the last two games, hitting a meager four of 32. Haas kept saying the bad shooting didn't bother him because he knew that meant the Bulldogs were due. That came true at the right time as BHS hit seven on the night -- five by senior Joe Gipp who finally broke loose and ended with a season-high 27 points.
"That's as well as he's shot all year," said Haas. "We've been waiting for a game when we would get hot from beyond the arc. I feel we were due. We finally got what we deserve. Plus, we took it to the hole."
The 3s fell mostly in the first half, mostly in the second quarter. BHS was up just 9-7 after the first quarter, but Gipp hit three of his five 3s and sophomore Ben Knoll added another as BHS mounted a 31-20 lead in the second frame. After Piper countered with a pair of 3s, junior Andrew Hannon had a layup and Gipp hit his final trey as BHS built a 36-25 lead.
Piper came up with a diamond-and-one defense to slow Gipp in the second half. That's when BHS took it to the hole. Senior post Brian Lauridsen kicked in, along with junior Micah Mason, to keep the Bulldogs going. Hannon also tossed in his only 3 of the night and hit a shot at the buzzer for a 47-41 third-quarter lead.
More inside play and enough free throws to counter whatever Piper had to offer secured the BHS victory.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy to put them away on their home floor," said Haas. "We just kept hitting the boards and playing fundamentally sound. We executed down the stretch."
Besides Gipps' 27 points, Mason and Hannon each had a dozen and Lauridsen had 11. The victory boosted BHS to its sixth win of the season against 15 losses. But, more importantly, it advanced the Bulldogs into the semifinals of the Spring Hill sub-state Thursday where they will play Eudora.
"Let's do it again," Haas said.
The Bulldogs had closed out the regular season with a 43-39 loss to Louisburg Friday. It was close all the way with BHS taking a 12-8 first-quarter lead and holding on to lead 24-22 at halftime. The Wildcats tied it up after three quarters and then took the lead for good just into the fourth frame.
"We did a lot of things well in that game," said Haas. "One of the things was playing some tough cards with Micah Mason in foul trouble. He didn't play but about seven minutes.
"We got beat just slightly on the boards by two. We were rebounding with them," he said. "It's one of those games I'm not down about the results. I told the team not to have their heads down. We didn't have a reason to have our heads down."
Hannon led the way with 13 points and Lauridsen was right behind with 10. Hannon also topped the rebounding with six.
One area of concern was BHS's continued poor shooting from the 3-point arc. After shooting just one of 19 against Spring Hill the week before, the Bulldogs could manage just three of 13 against Louisburg.
"I don't know if that's an extension of feeling pressure or what that is," said Haas. "I don't feel like I've taken the pressure off our team. It's a fine line to tell a team to play loose. You take the chance of that turning into sloppy.
"Sometimes this season we've carried expectations like a ball and chain," he said. "I think that's reflected with shooting. I know we have good shooters. I haven't been able to find the key to get us to relax and be at peace with ourselves."
But, there's been no lack of effort.
"We're working in practice and we're working in games," said Haas. "We've held Louisburg and Ottawa to 43 points in games and they are two of the best teams around. We've been doing some good things."