BHS girls win thrilling opener
Baldwin High School senior Ellie Meinen was clutch for the BHS girls' basketball team in its opening game, as she scored the final six points in its 51-49 victory over Santa Fe Trail Friday night.
"It was really nice to get a win on opening night," Meinen said. "It felt good, because we worked really hard for it."
With the score tied at 49-49, Meinen drove to the basket and got fouled with 1.6 seconds left in the game. Meinen hit both of her free throws to win the game for Baldwin.
Coach Bob Martin said the victory felt good.
"It feels pretty good," Martin said. "It was a pretty exciting game. We told the girls it was a hugger, because you end up hugging each other after the game. It was a good start to the season."
Baldwin trailed most of the game, but tied the score 42-42 with two free throws by junior Kelsey Verhaeghe with 4:19 left in the game. Verhaeghe then drained a three-pointer to give the Bulldogs a 45-42 lead.
"We had a couple big plays," Martin said. "Kelsey hit a big three late in the second half. We were looking for something to get us over the hump. That was a big play."
The Bulldogs never again trailed as it went on to collect its season-opening win.
"It was very nice to start the season with a win," Meinen said. "It gets a little pressure off your back. It gets the season off to a nice start."
Martin agreed about notching the first win of the season.
"They have been waiting all year for that first game, so they wanted to get that first win," Martin said. "Everyone was pretty excited about it. It was just the first one of the year, but it has a little more importance because you have been waiting so long to play."
The Bulldogs started the game red-hot as they scored five points in the first minute. Then they sputtered for the rest of the quarter, before adding five more points in the final minute to close SFT's lead to12-11.
Baldwin began to fall behind early in the second quarter, but kept the game close. At halftime, BHS trailed 28-22.
Martin said the team showed a few signs of first-game jitters early in half, but just didn't play well in the first half.
"I don't know how jittery we were really," Martin said. "We didn't play really well in the first half and defensively we had some breakdowns. We rushed ourselves on offense."
Both teams battled back and forth throughout the third quarter, with SFT leading 38-34 heading into the final quarter.
Baldwin tied the game at 38-38 in the first minute of the quarter. Then it later tied the score at 42-42 before Verhaeghe hit her three-pointer that helped Baldwin win the game.
Martin said the Bulldogs were able to come back by playing better defense.
"In the second half, I was really pleased," Martin said. "Defensively we starting shutting them down. I thought that was a big key to it. We finally calmed down on offense and got some good shots."
Meinen also said BHS improved its defense in the second half.
"We made adjustments on defense and took away their lob they used in the first half," Meinen said. "We just stepped up the defense and were more patient on offense."
Senior Katelyn Miles said the win was fun, especially since SFT usually receives praise before the season starts.
"It was really exciting," Miles said. "Santa Fe Trail isn't in our league, so it is a different team to play. It was nice to beat them, because they always get nice reviews in the preseason."
One aspect of the game the Bulldogs are trying to improve this season is their offense. Meinen said the team played fairly well offensively Friday night.
"It was a little shaky at first, but as we were more patient, we got better shots," Meinen said. "It started working pretty good."
Verhaeghe led the team with 16 points, while Meinen added 14 for the Bulldogs. Verhaeghe also led Baldwin with eight rebounds, four steals and three assists.
The Bulldogs next play in the championship game of the Paola Tournament at 8:30 p.m. Friday against Paola.
Friday's game will be the final game before Christmas break for Baldwin. It will resume play Jan. 3 at Ottawa.