Bulldogs to play for third place in tournament
EUDORA -- After splitting its two games in the Cardinal Invitational here, the Baldwin High School boys' basketball team will be playing for third place in its game tonight.
The Bulldogs (2-1) play Bishop Ward at 7 p.m. tonight in Eudora, after losing their semifinal game 59-49 to Eudora Tuesday night.
"We've got to put this behind us and I know that's tough because it is a rivalry," coach Heath Cooper said Tuesday. "We will put this behind us and start focusing on Bishop Ward. We will see what this team is like on Thursday. This will make us better."
Baldwin was defeated by its rival in a close battle that came down to the final minutes.
"They wanted it more than we did," Cooper said. "In the first half, we came out and they were tougher than us. I thought we equaled their toughness in the second half. It comes down to making plays."
The Bulldogs only shot 10 of 52 from the field in the game, while only converting 14 of 22 free throws.
"You are not going to win very many games like that," Cooper said. "They (Eudora) shot their free throws and made shots."
Cooper knows his team can shoot a lot better than it did Tuesday, but he also knows the Cardinals pressured the Bulldogs well.
"It was probably just an off night, because we've got guys that can shoot," Cooper said. "It just happens. The shots just didn't fall tonight. But I give credit to Eudora, because they played hard on defense."
Baldwin came out of the blocks a little slow, as it trailed 30-19 at halftime. The Bulldogs closed the lead during the third quarter, but still trailed 46-38 heading into the final period.
Despite many shots during the fourth quarter, BHS could never catch up with the Cardinals, as it eventually became a free throw game for Eudora.
"I thought we played hard again, but we've got to make plays," Cooper said. "Our seniors had some shots down the stretch and didn't make them. This game will make us better, but we've got to make plays."
Cooper does believe his team will learn from the game and improve in future games, including the next meeting with Eudora, on Feb. 21.
"I think this makes us better come sub-state and the second time we play them," Cooper said. "We want to get better. The thing we take away from tonight is we have to make plays."
Junior Blake Wieden led Baldwin with 11 points. Three other players, junior Andrew Madl, junior Sam Scott and sophomore Drew Berg, each added eight points.
On Monday, the Bulldogs defeated Maranatha 58-40 in the first round of the tournament. Baldwin controlled the game early as it led 23-6 after the first quarter.
"I think we played good in the first quarter," Cooper said. "There were parts of the second quarter that weren't outstanding."
The Bulldogs never looked back, as they rested some players for Tuesday's game.
"In the second half, we played them even," Cooper said. "I think that is a credit to them. I think they played hard and really got after it. We just had a comfortable lead to begin the second half."
The Bulldogs' scoring was fairly balanced as senior Aaron Hannon led the team with 12 points. Senior Jeremy Wright pitched in 11, while Berg and senior Ryan Jorgensen added 10 and eight points, respectively.
The Bulldogs didn't feel they played their best Monday, but were still glad to collect the win.
"We played all right," Jorgensen said. "We can't say we didn't try hard, but if we play like that against better teams, we probably won't come out with a win."
Wright thought being on the road for the first time might have caused some of the bad play.
"We were a little nervous going into a different gym," Wright said. "Our focus was a little off. That is something we are definitely going to have to work on. It was good to get the first win."
Cooper said the team has been working on focusing throughout the entire game, especially when it is playing on the road.
"We talked about focus before the game, because on the road you have to be focused," Cooper said. "It's kind of bland atmosphere. There is no band. The student section, while here, is not really rocking."
After tonight's game at Eudora, the Bulldogs will not play again until Jan. 3 at Ottawa.