BHS boys bounce back to take third
EUDORA -- In the midst of a wild week of basketball and weather, the Baldwin High School boys' basketball team found a way to place third at the Cardinal Invitational here Saturday.
The Bulldogs (3-1) were scheduled to play the third-place game Thursday, but the heavy snowfall canceled school and postponed the tournament. The Bulldogs didn't have school on Friday either, but were able to win 79-63 over Bishop Ward Saturday.
"We practiced on Friday, which I think helped," coach Heath Cooper said. "But our guys looked fresh and had a bounce in their step. They just came to play and took care of business."
Sophomore Drew Berg also said the team played well Saturday.
"I thought we played really well," Berg said. "I thought we passed really well and played good help defense."
The Bulldogs jumped on their opponent early by leading 18-10 after the first quarter. BHS expanded that lead to 33-18 at halftime.
"The first half was phenomenal," Cooper said. "We were up 15 at half, but the biggest thing was we only gave up 18 points. We truly only gave up 12 points, but they hit two threes late from far out to give them 18 points. I thought it was our best half of the season so far."
Both teams lit up the scoreboard in the third quarter as Baldwin scored 28 points and Bishop Ward put up 26.
Baldwin maintained its lead throughout the final quarter and came away with a 16-point victory.
The third-place finish didn't quite please the Bulldogs, according to Berg.
"It was nice, but we weren't satisfied with third place," Berg said. "We really learned a lot from it."
Cooper was impressed with the Bulldogs' defense Saturday, especially in the first half.
"I think the biggest thing is we have improved a great deal on defense," Cooper said. "We knew that Bishop Ward was going to penetrate and kick out for the three. We really shut that down. In the first half, we were phenomenal in our half-court defense."
Senior Jeremy Wright led the team with 18 points, while Berg dropped in 13. Senior Ryan Jorgensen, senior Aaron Hannon and junior Sam Scott each added 11 points for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs were in the third-place game after a 59-49 loss to Eudora on Dec. 6. In the first round of the tournament, Baldwin defeated Maranatha 58-40 on Dec. 5.
Cooper was proud of how his team rebounded from its loss to Eudora to defeat Bishop Ward.
"I think good teams bounce back from losses," Cooper said. "They kind of put it behind them. We did that and there was no layover effect after the loss to Eudora. We hit the ground running Saturday."
Cooper also said the team has been focusing on taking small steps to reach its goals. The Bulldogs are 3-1 heading into the Christmas break, which is an improvement from last year's record.
"One thing we have focused on was little baby steps," Cooper said. "If you can take those little steps and add them up, you will get something big. Last year at this time, we were 2-2 and this year we are 3-1. I think the record shows we have made little steps."
Berg said the seniors have been a big reason for the team's success.
"The senior leadership has really helped us out during games and at practice," Berg said.
The Bulldogs next game is at 8 p.m. Jan. 3 at Ottawa. Cooper said the team will be working on basics during break preparing for the game against the Cyclones.
"We will work on fundamentals a great deal," Cooper said. "We will put in some new stuff, but we try to keep things simple. We will be focusing a great deal on Ottawa. Playing those guys on the road will be a challenge for us."