BHS finishes sixth in BIT
By Jimmy Gillispie
Signal Sports Writer
The Baldwin High School boys basketball team finished sixth out of eight teams in the Baldwin Invitational Tournament, but had higher expectations going in to the tournament.
"We had better expectations than to come out with sixth place," sophomore Jeremy Wright said. "I think we should have done a lot better than that, but that's the way it is."
The Bulldogs started off the tournament with a rematch against third-seeded Anderson County, the team they faced the day after losing senior Andy Hannon to a hand injury, on Jan. 20.
Baldwin didn't start off as it wanted to in that match, but was still around after the first quarter. But Anderson County opened up its lead in the second quarter and led 38-19 at half.
"We didn't do what we wanted to do in that game from the get go," coach Jeff Haas said. "We didn't practice particularly hard on Monday and that came back to bite us on Tuesday. Nothing went our way. We had very good looks at the basket that did not go in."
Anderson County continued to build on its lead, and eventually won the game 76-38, sending Baldwin to face Wellsville in the next round.
Despite the loss, Haas knew the team would bounce back the next game and forget about the Anderson County game.
"These guys are very resilient, and they are special that way," Haas said. "We don't wallow in misery, we come back."
The Bulldogs returned on Friday evening to face Wellsville, which was defeated by Lincoln Prep on Tuesday.
Both teams battled back and forth the whole game, but Baldwin was able to edge out Wellsville 59-58 and advance to the fifth place game on Saturday.
"This was one of those hard fought games that both teams really scrapped for," Haas said. "But we were able to execute some things down the stretch on both ends of the floor. I thought that was huge, especially when we were down."
The Bulldogs fell behind 10-2 early in the first quarter, but fought their way back to only trailing by two at halftime, 27-25.
"In the first half we weren't moving to the basketball," Haas said. "We had a tendency to pass the ball to a standing guard. Another emphasis at halftime was to win the battle of the boards."
The game was tied after three quarters of play. The fourth quarter saw a barrage of scoring by both teams, but Baldwin would score the final four points of the game. Wright made a lay-up off a backdoor cut with four seconds left to give Baldwin the victory.
"That was a great game, especially towards the end," Wright said. "We were down and just came together as a team and decided we needed to win."
Senior John Stockdale thought the team started a little slow, but started playing better towards the end.
"We came out a little slow and picked it up in the end," Stockdale said. "We picked up the intensity and played like we we're used to playing."
With the win over Wellsville, the Bulldogs faced a challenge against Augusta the following night. Augusta was the fifth seed, but was the defending champion, so Baldwin knew it was up for a match.
"I really liked the effort that we gave in this game," Haas said. "Our biggest problem is we got beat fairly badly on the backboards. We need to do a better job of moving people out and getting them away from the rim."
Baldwin held its own in the first quarter by only trailing by five points, but the second quarter would prove to be costly for the Bulldogs.
Baldwin scored the first basket of the quarter with 7:41 remaining, and closed the lead to only three. But then Augusta went on a 15-2 run in the rest of the quarter. The Bulldogs went over six minutes without a point.
"We just really had a lapse of concentration there," Haas said. "I think we had nine turnovers in the quarter. We also fought through that lapse of concentration and got ourselves back together to a degree."
Baldwin did not let the lead grow much bigger, and even cut a little into it during the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs were defeated 49-32 and finished with sixth place.
"I thought we started out pretty good, but started turning the ball over after awhile," Wright said. "We lost focus there in the second quarter. We started turning it on in the end, but overall it wasn't a great outing."
Haas said the team didn't shoot well from the perimeter, but he wasn't disappointed with the shot selection from the Bulldogs.
Haas also knows despite the finish, the tournament helped the team grow and learn together.
"It was a learning experience for us," Haas said. "I told them that tournaments are great learning experiences, because you see different teams from different areas that play different styles, and you don't a lot of practice time to prepare. It is good for our team, because it simulates post-season play. And certainly the win was big, because we came back after not playing too well in that first game."
The Bulldogs next play at home in a rematch against Wellsville at 8 p.m. on Friday night. Then they travel to Pembroke Hill to play at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.