BHS boys bounce back to take third
After a crushing defeat by Lincoln College Prep on Friday night, the Baldwin High School boys basketball team bounced back on Saturday to beat Turner High School for third place at the Baldwin Invitational Tournament.
The Bulldogs were victorious over Anderson County in Tuesday's opening round 52-49. Then Baldwin lost to Lincoln Prep 85-41 in the semifinal round of the 36th annual BIT on Friday night.
"They are just good," coach Heath Cooper said. "They have a ton of talent. We were outclassed. They were just too good."
The Bulldogs trailed 18-8 after the first quarter, but the second quarter would be much the same. Lincoln Prep led 62-27 heading into the final quarter, and went on to the easy victory.
"Lincoln Prep has some amazing athletes," senior Ben Knoll said. "It was faster than we ever played. I think it helped us, because after that everything seems slower. We didn't play very well and they got in our heads."
But the Bulldogs soon forgot about that game, as they faced Turner for the third time this season in the third-place game. Baldwin won the game 76-63 to win third place in the BIT.
Senior Austin Inzer said he was proud of how the team bounced back after Friday's defeat to beat Turner.
"That's what I was most impressed about our team, because we came out and acted like it never happened," Inzer said. "It shows a lot of character in our team."
The two teams split the first two games, as Baldwin won 76-70 on Dec. 10 at the Paola Tournament. But Turner got revenge at its place, winning 73-58 on Jan. 14.
"It's a rivalry," Cooper said. "I wish we played them again. I think they like playing us too. It's good to get a rematch, just to redeem ourselves, because we weren't very good up there."
Inzer said the game was like a title game between the two schools.
"It was our third time playing them, so it felt like a championship between us," Inzer said.
The team felt like the third-place finish and victory over Turner might be a turning point for the rest of the season.
"It was fun to play well," senior Chris Irick said. "It felt like it was a turning point in our season."
Cooper also thought the win might propel the team and maybe even the program.
"This could be a turning point for not just our season, but our program," Cooper said. "This could be something that turns the program around."
Both Turner and Baldwin came out strong in the first quarter and played close. Turner took an 18-15 lead into the second quarter.
"Our plan was to come out and take it at them," Knoll said. "We felt like we played a little tentative last game. The plan was to go out as confident as possible and not hold anything back."
The second quarter was back and forth as the biggest lead by either team was five points. Baldwin went on an 8-3 run in the final two minutes of the half to lead 41-37 at halftime.
"In the first half, we came out with good intensity," Knoll said. "I think we could have played better defense. Overall, it was a pretty good half and we felt confident going into the locker room."
The third quarter proved to be the deciding factor in the game, as Baldwin outscored Turner 21-7 in the quarter. The Bulldogs also held Turner scoreless the final 3:53 of the quarter to take a 62-44 lead.
"That was the make or break quarter," Knoll said. "In the locker room, there was no celebrating or anything. We were focused on coming out and doing what we were doing."
Turner only scored one point in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, making it an entire eight minutes and only scoring one point. Baldwin held off a late surge to win the game and third place.
"It was a team effort," Irick said. "We kind of came out and played smart. We tried to cause some turnovers and get some buckets."
Cooper said the team played great and also got into the head of Turner's leading player.
"I really think we got in Aaron Jackson's head a little bit," Cooper said. "I think we frustrated him, and that helped a lot. And frankly, we attacked."
Knoll led Baldwin with 16 points and seven rebounds. Junior Aaron Hannon scored 15 points, grabbed five rebounds and had five assists. Junior Jeremy Wright added 12 points for the Bulldogs as Irick also added nine points and five assists.
Hannon and Wright also made the all-tournament team.
This year marked Baldwin's best finish in the BIT since it placed second in 2001.
The Bulldogs resume play at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night at DeSoto High School.