Bulldogs take back Top Gun title
WELLSVILLE -- It wasn't pretty, but the Baldwin High School girls' basketball team won the Top Gun Tournament championship with a 33-30 victory over Eudora here Saturday night.
"It was a very good feeling," BHS coach Bob Martin said of winning the championship. "This is our third straight championship game we have been in and we have lost the last two. This was big for us. We really wanted to get this one."
The Bulldogs led 27-15 heading into the fourth quarter, before Eudora went on a 13-0 run in the first four minutes of the period. The Bulldogs fought back with free throws and lay-up from junior Kelsey Verhaeghe.
"It was a good win and we worked really hard for it," Verhaeghe said. "It showed how we could play together and finish."
After trailing 28-27, Baldwin went on a quick 4-0 run thanks to two free throws from senior Katelyn Miles and Verhaeghe's lay-up.
Eudora closed the gap to one point, but BHS senior Ellie Meinen sank two free throws with 15 seconds left to seal the deal.
It was fourth time in the past five years that BHS has won the tournament. The Bulldogs finished fourth last year.
"It's new for us," Verhaeghe said. "We have been wanting to for a couple years now and now we finally got it."
In her first attempt Saturday, Verhaeghe broke the tournament record for three-pointers by an individual. She set the mark with 12, which broke the old record of nine three-pointers.
"It was good and it felt nice to hit some shots," Verhaeghe said. "I knew I had broken it, but I didn't know if someone else had also broken it."
Verhaeghe hit two three-pointers in the first quarter, helping Baldwin jump to a 12-4 lead. Neither team could find any offense in the second quarter as Baldwin led 16-10 at halftime.
Miles and Verhaeghe helped Baldwin start the second half with a 5-0 surge that led to a 21-10 lead. The Bulldogs held their lead and entered the fourth quarter leading 27-15.
In the next 4:15, Eudora went on its 13-0 run, capitalizing off Baldwin turnovers.
"We lost our poise a little bit in the fourth quarter," Martin said. "Fortunately, we were able to dig down and find something at the end."
Baldwin found enough points in the final 3:45 to pull out the victory.
"These girls have really worked awful hard and they played like champions tonight," Martin said. "I was proud of them."
Martin said the girls fought hard on defense all night, which was the difference between a win and a loss.
"Defensively, we were good all night," Martin said. "Even when they made the run on us, it wasn't really our defense but our offense was turning the ball over. Our defense was solid and that was one of our best performances."
The Bulldogs only made 10 of 34 shots from the field and 10 of 17 free throws. Martin said the free throw line has been troublesome lately.
"Free throws were a problem," Martin said. "In the first part of the season, we were a really good free throw shooting team. We have been struggling a bit the last few games and we did tonight, too. Katelyn (Miles) hit some big ones and Ellie (Meinen) hit two big ones."
Verhaeghe led the team with 13 points. Miles added eight while Meinen scored six points in the win. Miles also grabbed 10 rebounds.
Last Thursday, the Bulldogs defeated Anderson County 38-26 in the semifinal round of the tournament.
"It is awesome because we came out and played as a team," sophomore Ashley Tucker said. "We played a little bit better than against Wellsville. We were more focused and ready."
Verhaeghe was the Bulldogs' offense in the first quarter as she scored all nine points with three three-pointers. BHS held Anderson County to two points.
In the second quarter, both teams' offense started to spark, as Baldwin led 21-14 at halftime.
"We played a pretty good first quarter I thought," Martin said. "We finally found our groove offensively and I thought we were on the edge of taking the game over. Then we let them back in it at the end of the half."
In the third period, Anderson Country could only score two points again, as Baldwin opened its lead to 28-16 heading into the fourth quarter.
"We came out flat in the third quarter, but our girls off the bench came in and gave us a spark," Martin said.
Bench players, like junior Amanda Vander Tuig, sophomore Colby Heckathorne and Tucker combined to score 10 of Baldwin's final 17 points.
BHS held its lead in the final period, thanks to two more three-pointers by Verhaeghe.
Martin said the Bulldogs' defense was big in the first and third quarters.
"Our defense was a little bit spotty I thought," Martin said. "We had two good quarters, where we held them to two points. That was a big difference for us."
Verhaeghe said the team needs to work on being more productive offensively, especially when they are leading.
"We need to work on our offense and have more patience," Verhaeghe said. "When we have the lead, we need to settle down and not let our opponent catch back up."
On Tuesday, the Bulldogs traveled to Paola and came away with a 60-39 loss.
"We had a really poor third quarter,' Martin said. "We just really struggled offensively in the third quarter. I thought we hung in there pretty good in the first half."
The Bulldogs only trailed 28-22 at halftime, but were shutout in the third quarter and found themselves down 42-22 heading into the fourth quarter.
"They (Paola) turned it up a notch in the third quarter and we looked liked we were a bit tired," Martin said. "It looked like we ran out of gas and started rushing things and forcing shots."
In the third quarter, Baldwin was 0 for 10 from the field. The Bulldogs shot made 14 of 45 shots for the game.
Verhaeghe again led the team with 11 points, while Tucker added eight.
Baldwin's next game is Friday against Anderson County. It will be six-game starting at 5 p.m.
"Friday is going to be a big day for us," Martin said. "It's King and Queen of courts. It's going to be a big game for us. We just need to put that loss behind us and move on."