Girls win double OT thriller
A bank three-pointer and a three-point play in the final nine seconds of regulation helped the Baldwin High School girls win a double-overtime thriller over Osawatomie 66-64 Tuesday in the home opener.
"One word I would say is heart," coach Eric Toot said. "Our team never quit, even when we were down eight with less than two minutes to go. They just kept fighting and kept believing they had a chance to get back in the game."
With only 8.6 seconds remaining in regulation, freshman Heather Garcia made a lay-up and crucial free throw to close the lead to two points. Osawatomie sank one free throw before giving Baldwin 2.8 seconds for a shot.
Junior Ellie Meinen threw up an off balance three-pointer as time expired. The shot banked in, which erupted the Baldwin crowd and sent the game to overtime.
"We had some girls make some huge plays," Toot said. "We got a little lucky at the end with the shot by Ellie, but she had the guts to take it."
Meinen said she caught the ball and saw three defenders around her but only one second on the clock, so she threw up the shot.
"I was really far out, so I just let it go," Meinen said. "It felt kind of bad coming off, but as soon as it hit the backboard, I felt better. It felt good after it went in."
Toot said he had to try and calm the team and himself down after the shot, because the Bulldogs had to come out and play hard in overtime.
"(I had) to get the team and myself calmed down," Toot said. "We were pretty excited, but it's like I told the girls, if we don't come out and win, that shot didn't mean anything. We got calmed down and they responded well."
The tables were reversed on the Bulldogs in overtime when Osawatomie junior Jessica Jones drained a guarded three to tie the game 60-60 with seconds left. Neither team was able to convert another shot, forcing a second overtime.
Toot said he wishes he would have switched his defense before her shot.
"I should have went man," Toot said. "I was thinking about it, but they hadn't hit a three all night. We went ahead and stayed in our zone defense and she hit a big shot. Give her credit."
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 62-60 lead in double overtime and hung on to win, despite missing two free throws at the end. Meinen who was six-for-six from the line, missed her two final free throws with 1.7 seconds left, but did grab her own rebound, sealing the victory.
"It was a pretty big win," Meinen said. "We probably should have easily won, but it was good to show how much heart we have by coming back. We look forward to improving and more league wins."
Sophomore Amanda VanderTuig said the team worked together to get this victory, especially late.
"We managed to stick together and pull it out, even though we got down late in the fourth quarter," VanderTuig said.
The Bulldogs were led sophomore Kelsey Verhaeghe, who scored 24 points on five of 10 shooting from behind the arc. Junior Denise Orloff added 15 points, while Meinen contributed nine.
The Bulldogs also squeaked out another Frontier League victory on Friday as they defeated Central Heights 35-31, despite only shooting seven out of 33 from the field.
"I think we did a lot of good things, except put the ball in the basket," Toot said. "I'm encouraged about that. I think it will eventually come where we start knocking down shots. I think we have girls who can score, it's just going to take some time for them to believe in it and do that for us."
Baldwin's only field goal of the first half came with 2:30 left in the half, as it shot one for 16 from the field. Baldwin did manage to hold Central Heights to two second quarter points.
Baldwin led 28-18 after the third quarter, but gave up a 12-1 run to start the fourth quarter. Once again Meinen came through in clutch as she made her only two free throws of the game with three seconds left, which gave Baldwin the lead and the win.
"Free throws were huge," Toot said. "We've struggled at the line, but tonight we stepped up and hit some big shots."
The Bullogs have been without junior Katelyn Miles for both games because of an ankle injury. But Toot said the team has come together and worked as a team.
"We are 2-0 in league now and it was our first home game," Toot said. "The heart of the girls to win two games without Katelyn shows that we got a good solid team."
Baldwin will travel to KC Turner to play at 5:30 p.m. on Friday. Then the team will play its make-up game with Ottawa at 6:30 p.m. on Monday at home.