BHS girls win second league title
The Baldwin High School girls basketball team rang up its second straight Frontier League title and advanced to the sub-state semifinals looking like the team to beat.
"It's always special to win league," coach Eric Toot said. "It's a great accomplishment, especially in our league. It's an outstanding accomplishment for the girls to do it two years in a row."
The Bulldogs crushed Louisburg on Thursday, 66-36, and celebrated the six senior's last regular season home game.
"It was great to send them out with a win," Toot said of the seniors. "They've had an amazing career. I feel lucky to start my career coaching those six kids for four years."
Before defeating Louisburg, Baldwin had previously lost to Bishop Ward and Pembroke Hill on back-to-back nights on Feb. 23 -- 24.
Senior Emily Brown said it was easy to come out fired up against Louisburg because of those losses.
"I think coming off two losses, it's easy to have the momentum," Brown said. "And it's senior night."
Baldwin came out and took control from the beginning, as it built a 16-6 lead after the first quarter.
The second quarter was almost identical to the first, in that the Bulldogs dominated. Baldwin went into halftime leading 32-13 on a long three-pointer by senior Erica Ogle.
Toot said the team came out with more intensity than it had in the last couple games, which helped build the lead.
"We carried the intensity over from Tuesday and stepped it up another level," Toot said. "They came out tonight and concentrated and did a nice job defensively."
Even with a 19-point halftime lead, Baldwin's lead continued to grow in the third quarter. The Bulldogs led 55-21 and were heading into the fourth quarter with some momentum built off of two three's in the final minute by senior Anna Gillispie.
The fourth quarter would be the last time the six seniors would play a regular season home game at Baldwin. They would maintain the lead and get the victory in easy fashion.
"Everyone played well and did their job," Brown said. "We played together and we played our defense."
Toot said the Bulldogs played a good all-around game against Louisburg.
"I thought we executed on the offense and got about any shot we wanted," Toot said. "Defensively, our intensity was good. We did a nice job rebounding and concentrating on blocking out."
Brown said the second consecutive league title was just a step in their goals for the season.
"This is an important step to where we want to be," Brown said. "It says something about our program."
All but one of the 11 players scored some points for the Bulldogs that night. Senior Kari Garrison led all scorers with 14, but was followed closely by Brown and Gillispie, who each added 12. Senior Erica Ogle put up seven points, while the others seniors, Kallie Harris and Jamie Lawrenz, each added six.
The Bulldogs sank seven of its 14 three-point attempts and grabbed 37 total rebounds, six more than Louisburg.
Following the girls game, Brown was awarded a banner and plaque for being named the Gatorade Kansas Volleyball Player of the Year.
"I knew I received the honor, but I found out today they were doing something for it after the game," Brown said. "It was pretty cool."
On Monday night, the seniors did play their last home game ever, as the Bulldogs hosted Anderson County in the first-round of sub-state.
Baldwin would once again defeat Anderson County, 53-32, with the help of a triple-double by Brown.
"We played very well," Brown said. "I think just knowing that at any time we could be done helped. We used this first-round game to get out all of the little kinks and stuff out. I think we are on the right track."
Brown scored 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked 10 shots in the victory to give her a triple-double.
"She came out with a lot of intensity and poise," Gillispie said of Brown. "She makes the players around her better. She's steps up in big games, like tonight."
Sophomore Amy Craig said the team played well, but still has room for improvement.
"I thought we played really well as a team," Craig said. "We could get better, but overall we did good."
Toot said he was very happy with the team's defense, especially early in the game.
"I was very happy with our defensive pressure tonight," Toot said. "I thought we got out and challenged them. They tried to stall at the beginning of the game. I don't even think the girls realized that, because we pressured the ball and they didn't get the opportunity to hold the ball on us."
Brown agreed with Toot, and said the defense is back where it used to be earlier in the season.
"Usually our team is known for our good man-to-man defense, but we've kind of been struggling lately," Brown said. "We were kind of getting better each game, but tonight we got back to where we were."
The Bulldogs again jumped on its opponent in the first half. The Bulldogs led 29-14 going into halftime, despite missing many close shots.
The third quarter was all Baldwin needed to put Anderson County away with a 17-2 surge.
Toot said the reason for the big quarter, was because of the defensive pressure and they made easy shots.
"I thought defensively, we really came out and got after them," Toot said. "We made our lay-ups, because in the first half we weren't making our easy shots."
Anderson County mounted a small comeback in the fourth quarter, but part of that was due to Baldwin resting its starters and giving more girls playing time.
"It will help the starters to get more rest," Craig said about more players seeing action. "When it comes to the big games, they are ready and so are the people on the bench, if they have to step in."
Many of those girls saw a lot of action Monday, which was part of Toot's plan.
"Most of those kids have been limited in their varsity action, because you only get five quarters when every team plays," Toot said. "I wanted to get them in early tonight, and let them know that we're going to need them to make this stretch run."
Brown said that by playing the girls, it will help the team when they need other players to come in and give some positive minutes.
"I definitely think it will help us," Brown said. "Just getting everybody some experience, so we can put them in at any time."
Toot said he was proud of how they played, and hopes it will help them in the upcoming game.
"If it's 10 seconds or 10 minutes, we need them to step up and play some big minutes and give us something off the bench," Toot said. "I was really trying to get them in early and when the game was some what in doubt. I was happy with their effort. I thought their intensity was very good."
Toot said the win was just another step in achieving the team's goal. He said he knows the remaining game or games will not be easy.
"At this point, the goal is to win," Toot said. "We'll take it one game at a time and we're happy to move on. We know that Thursday's going to be a tough battle against a league opponent. There's not going to be any easy ones from here on out."
Baldwin plays Spring Hill, a team it struggled against on Feb. 17, at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Louisburg.
Brown summed up the team's goal in a very short sentence.
"We're on our way," Brown said. "We're getting there. Two more to go."