Bulldogs advance to tourney title game
PAOLA -- Baldwin High School's girls' basketball team has advanced to the title game of the Panther Invitational by defeating rival Eudora 45-42 Tuesday night after beating KC Turner 35-25 Monday.
"It felt very good, especially because it was against Eudora," senior Katelyn Miles said of the Eudora win. "One of our goals is to beat Eudora, so it was nice to do that early in the year."
The Bulldogs (3-0) will play host Paola at 8:30 p.m. Friday for the tournament championship.
"I told the girls this year we want to play for championships," coach Bob Martin said. "We got our first chance to do one Friday night. It's going to be a big game, but it ought to be fun."
Miles also said the team talked about playing in championship games.
"It is very exciting," Miles said. "Our goal for the season is to keep playing in championship games. We would like to start off winning a championship this early in the season."
Baldwin defeated Eudora by knocking down some late free throws in a closely contested game.
Baldwin took a 43-37 lead with 6:07 left in the fourth quarter, but Eudora mounted a 5-0 run in the next couple of minutes. Neither team scored for three minutes, until Eudora was forced to foul Baldwin with 32 seconds left.
BHS seniors Ellie Meinen and Denise Orloff each made one free throw in the final 32 seconds to give Baldwin the win.
"It felt really good," Martin said. "I think the girls played really well. "It's always a contest when we play Eudora. I was pretty happy with their effort tonight."
Throughout the game, both teams took the lead several times, but neither team led by more than six points.
Baldwin led 22-20 at halftime, then ended the third quarter with a 7-2 run to take a 39-34 lead into the final eight minutes.
Junior Amanda Vander Tuig and Meinen made Baldwin's only field goals of the fourth quarter.
Despite only six points in the final quarter, Meinen said the team played better offense Tuesday than it had in its first two games.
"We just look for more things and didn't rush any shots," Meinen said. "We just let our offense run itself and things developed."
Meinen said the Bulldogs showed more desire against Eudora than it did Monday night.
"We came out with a lot more intensity and played a lot better defense," Meinen said. "We just played better all around."
Martin agreed, partly because of the play of the bench players.
"We had a little more fire tonight and we played a little sharper tonight," Martin said. "I thought our bench came in and gave us some really good minutes tonight."
On Monday, the Bulldogs defeated KC Turner 35-25 in a sloppy game to win the first-round game of the tournament.
BHS led 12-3 after the first quarter of play, but didn't score a single field goal in the second quarter. The Bulldogs only led 15-12 at halftime.
"I think we were too relaxed," Miles said. "We knew coming out they weren't going to be too challenging of a team. I think we kind of dropped to their level. We weren't very enthusiastic about the game."
The Bulldogs expanded on their lead in the second half, but was never able to put the game away until the final minute.
"I think we were flat," Martin said. "We didn't shoot very well and anytime that happens, it doesn't seem like anything is going very well. I don't think we played quite as bad as it seemed to us. Our effort and defense was good."
Baldwin only shot 10 of 53 from the field Monday, including one of 15 from three-point range.
"They just sat in the zone and dared us to shoot from the outside," Martin said. "We just weren't really on."
Miles led the team with 12 points, 10 rebounds and six steals. Miles hit six of six free throws. Verhaeghe also added 11 points for the Bulldogs.
Baldwin committed 19 turnovers in the game.
Friday's game will be the final game for the Bulldogs before January. Baldwin will play at Ottawa on Jan. 3.