BHS boys focusing on defense for Friday’s opener
With offensive production not being a problem, the Baldwin High School boys' basketball team hopes to improve its defense as it begins its season Friday night at home.
The Bulldogs host Santa Fe Trail at 8 p.m. Friday in the Baldwin Junior High School gym.
"We're ready and we have been ready since last year," senior Ryan Jorgensen said. "Physically and mentally, I think we are ready to go."
Second-year BHS coach Heath Cooper said he knows the Bulldogs are ready to play, especially against another team.
"I think we are ready to go right now," Cooper said Monday. "As a coach, you always want to have more practices, but I think we are ready. The guys are ready to play against someone besides themselves."
Jorgensen agreed about being sick of scrimmaging against each other.
"We are getting tired of beating up on each other," Jorgensen said. "We are ready to get after some people."
The Bulldogs have an experienced team with six seniors and 5 juniors. The seniors are John Brown, Grant Catloth, James Highree, Ryan Jorgensen, Aaron Hannon and Jeremy Wright.
The juniors on the varsity roster include Mike Giarraputo, Caj Kueffer, Andrew Madl, Sam Scott and Blake Wieden.
Many of those players saw numerous minutes of varsity action last winter.
Cooper believes the experience will help the Bulldogs this season.
"There are going to be some nerves there, especially in the first few minutes," Cooper said. "Experience is the key for us this year. It's a very positive thing for us this year, where as last year it was an Achilles Heel. We have six seniors and that's really important."
Defensively is where Cooper is hoping the experience really shows. He said the Bulldogs are improving on defense, but need to fix a few small aspects of the game.
"We are really confident with the offense and we are playing much better defense, but we are working on the little things," Cooper said. "Now we are just trying to work on the little fundamental things."
Jorgensen said defense was the team's downfall last year, because the Bulldogs scored plenty of points in many games.
"We have been working on a lot of help defense and, since last year we knew we could score, we have to work on defense," Jorgensen said. "That was our weakness last year."
One reason for the high scoring offense was the fast-paced style Cooper has brought to the team.
"We are up and down the floor, but now we need to focus on stopping people," Jorgensen said.
Senior Sam Scott agreed about wanting to run on offense, but also stop the opponent on defense.
"We really need to stop people, but we also want to get out there and run on them," Scott said. "We want to find out how good we are and see some competition."
Running is one thing the Bulldogs know how to do well.
"We are in pretty good shape," Scott said. "The coaches always find something to make us run."
Cooper has noticed a big difference in the team already from last year, just in practice.
"Practice wise, it's a night and day difference from last year," Cooper. "We are significantly better. We are very focused. We have excellent senior leadership, which I think is the biggest thing so far."
Baldwin lost 71-60 last year to SFT and Jorgensen knows this year will not be any easier.
"They have a shooter that we need to defend and they have a 6-foot-9 guy," Jorgensen said. "I think we can do it, as long as everybody helps on defense like we have been working on."
The Bulldogs' varsity team will play at approximately 8 p.m. in the BJHS gym, following the BHS girls' varsity game. The boys' junior varsity will play at 5 p.m. in the BHS gym with the freshman boys' to follow.
"I think we are ready," Scott said. "We have been having some pretty good practices lately. We are really playing well as a team. It's nice that we all played together last year and this summer. We are really prepared."