Plenty of road time early for BHS squads
It's that time of year again and, no, that's not in reference to the holidays. It's time for basketball and wrestling to begin at Baldwin High School. But, there's not much action at home until after the school year.
Both BHS basketball teams open on the road Friday at Santa Fe Trail. The following week, both Bulldog squads will be in tournament play, with the girls and Eudora and the boys at Paola. Then, they're both off until after the first of the year.
"We will have to be road warriors, especially early on," said Heath Cooper, first-year BHS boys basketball coach. "We don't play at home until after the holiday break and really overall don't play a whole lot at home.
"Both of our non-league games are away. We do have the Baldwin Invitational Tournament, but many of our games are away from home," Cooper said. "I like that because you can really see what you are like when you're on the road. A lot of guys can play good at home, but when you go into a hostile environment on the road you find your real players. We will have to find that early on."
It's much the same for the BHS girls with more road time than home time.
"We will be tested early with our first game against Santa Fe Trail," said Toot of Friday's opener on the road. "The following week we play in the Eudora Tournament and open with KC Marnatha, a private school from the Kansas City area."
Because the pre-Christmas action will all be on the road, Bulldog fans won't have a chance to see the refurbished basketball floor at the junior high, which includes the new feature of the word Baldwin and a Bulldog painted in purple on the floor.
Fans won't get a chance to see that until Jan. 4 when both the boys and girls play host to Ottawa. A week later, Jan. 11, the Bulldogs will battle Osawatomie on the home floor. The BIT is scheduled for Jan. 18-22 and that's it for the home action for either team until February.
It's not much better for Kit Harris and his BHS wrestling squad. Although the Bulldogs gave fans a preview Wednesday night with the annual Purple/White Classic in the BHS gym, they won't see any real home action until Jan. 29 with the fourth-annual BIT.
Instead, the BHS wrestlers open the season Saturday at the Shawnee Mission East Duals. The next week, Dec. 10-11, the Bulldogs will be at the Eudora Tournament of Champions. They close out the 2004 portion of the schedule Dec. 17-18 at the Raytown (Mo.) South Christmas Invitational.
Lots of road time isn't odd for wrestling and doesn't bother Harris a bit. He's looking forward to the season.
"I am always excited for the start of the season," said Harris. "We will again be a strong team. But, we have a challenge that we haven't had in a while. We return with zero state points. But, I see a lot of good wrestlers in our room. So, our challenge is to turn our good wrestlers into state points. I think that is very possible."
He will be counting on his seniors, too, including captains Luke Halford, Brandon Cone, Travis Barnes, Andreas Brandenberger and Josh Kohn.
"We have very strong leadership with a great senior group," said Harris. "They are very positive leaders in our room. We also have a group of youngsters in our room who have not wrestled a lot in kids wrestling, but have proven successful on the youth wrestling scene. They are looking very tough so far and are holding their own in the practices just fine."