Bulldogs upset Spring Hill to advance
SPRING HILL -- It was one of those late-season thrillers, but when it was all over, the Baldwin High School Bulldogs had the biggest thrill with a 71-70 overtime victory over the Spring Hill Broncos in the first round of sub-state play here Tuesday night.
Adding to the thrill was the revenge factor. It was only 12 days prior that Spring Hill came to Baldwin and hammered the Bulldogs 91-68. This time around, when it really counted, the results were much different.
"We wanted to play a game people would talk about for a long time around here and apparently that was accomplished," said coach Jeff Haas. "The post-season is about survival of the fittest and Baldwin was the fittest on Tuesday.
"The good guys won on Tuesday and justice in this case was served," said Haas. "Now it's time to work toward what is ahead of us."
Senior Andrew Hannon came up with the winning basket Tuesday. BHS was trailing 70-69 with just 3.6 seconds left. There was no doubt who would get the ball.
Hannon took the inbounds pass near midcourt and quickly covered the distance for the game-winning layup as the buzzer sounded for the game and on the Broncos' season.
"He's the ultimate player for that situation," said Haas. "We knew we had to give him a touch one way or another."
Hannon's heroics capped a wild game. Spring Hill led 14-8 after the first quarter, but the Bulldogs were up 26-24 at halftime. BHS had a 13-6 edge in the third quarter and was up by 13 with six minutes left in regulation.
Spring Hill rallied behind a large dose of senior Travis Larsen, who hit three three-pointers down the stretch. However, it was Aaron Barnett who stepped to the free throw line with 0.2 of a second left, hit a pair of charities to tie it at 61-61 to send it to overtime.
The Broncos had the one-point lead until Hannon came up with the big bucket to win the game. Hannon had a game-high 29 points. Junior Austin Inzer was next with 19 points as he hit four three-pointers coming off the bench. Sophomore Jeremy Wright was also in double digits with 13 tallies.
"Our opponent on Tuesday is something of a 'hot-blooded' team that thrives on ball pressure and intimidation," he said. "But we have some cold-blooded assassins on our team and we wanted to use their aggressiveness against them.
"Our people did an amazing job of executing our plan," said Haas. "Andy was spectacular, which was not really a surprise. Austin stepped up big for us, particularly on the offensive side. Micah (Mason) pitched in with some important rebounds as well. I dislike singling out only some people in a win like this because everyone had a hand in it."
The victory moved BHS's record to 9-12, while Spring Hill saw the season stop with a 14-6 mark. The Bulldogs will square off in the Louisburg-based sub-state semifinals Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Anderson County.
The win also took some of the sting out of the regular-season ending loss to Louisburg Thursday. BHS fell 70-58 in that one, which was the final home game for the Bulldog's seniors.
Louisburg jumped out to a 21-8 first-quarter lead, bumped that to 38-18 at halftime, added another four points to the lead in the third frame and held off a late BHS rally for the win.
Hannon led the Bulldogs with 21 points in that one and also had four steals. Fellow senior Mason had five steals, including four in the third quarter. Junior Ben Knoll chipped in with 10 points.
BHS's seniors are Hannon, Mason, B.T. Turk, John Stockdale and Brad Ikenberry.
"Senior night was tough for us because we wanted to send our five seniors out on a positive note," said Haas. "The contest was difficult from the start. Obviously, we had trouble defending the interior. We also struggled to get the backside help we needed.
"In the second half, we did a much better job on both ends of the floor, but trying to rally to win from 20 points down in a 32 minute high school game is extremely difficult," he said. "Give our opponent credit, they fed the ball inside all night and hit some tough guarded shots also. Our team should not be ashamed of a 5-4 league record. That's not bad under the circumstances."