Rivals battle in double OT thriller
OTTAWA -- A three-pointer by Baldwin High School junior Blake Wieden and a three-point play by senior Aaron Hannon propelled the Bulldogs to an 82-79 double overtime victory here Tuesday night.
The Bulldogs (4-1) beat the Cyclones, who were ranked as high as fourth in one Class 5A poll and previously undefeated.
"It's a great win," coach Heath Cooper said. "In a year-and-a-half, we have never beaten a winning team. They were undefeated and ranked fourth and eighth in two major polls in Kansas. It was a big win, especially on the road."
Wieden also thought the win was big for BHS, since Ottawa was ranked in the state.
"It feels really good to beat them, with them being 5A, being ranked fourth in 5A and at their home place is big," Wieden said.
With the Bulldogs down 64-61 in the final seconds of regulation, Wieden shot a three-pointer to tie the game. The shot hit the lip of the rim, then bounced straight up and came down through the net as time expired.
"I told myself before that I have had that chance before and missed it, so I wasn't going to let that happen again," Wieden said. "When it hit the rim, my gut kind of dropped for a second, then I saw it go in."
Cooper said Wieden's shot was huge, because it gave the Bulldogs a second life in overtime.
"It was pretty big, because we needed it at that time," Cooper said. "He is a heck of a shooter. Blake Wieden can really shoot it. Good shooters are going to get good rolls like that."
In the first overtime, the Bulldogs led by as many as four points, but that lead was erased quickly by Ottawa. Baldwin had a chance to win the game in the last 25 seconds of the period, but a missed shot sent the game to a second overtime.
In the second extra period, Baldwin trailed 79-76 with 2:01 left, but scored the final six points of the game. After a basket by senior Grant Catloth, Hannon stole a pass, made a layup and converted a three-point play to give BHS an 81-79 lead.
Senior Jeremy Wright hit the final free throw for Baldwin with 11 seconds left to give BHS the win.
"I think it was a great win, because they came in thinking they would just roll over us at their place," Hannon said. "We played really good, competed well and made plays all around."
Cooper said the Bulldogs were able to stay focused in the extra periods, because of the leadership on the team.
"I think the fact that we have six seniors has a lot to do with that," Cooper said. "We are a very senior-laden team, and I think that's why it was a great double overtime game. We got some plays from our underclassmen, but our seniors really stepped up tonight."
Wieden led the team with 21 points, while Hannon and Wright each added 17 and 16 points respectively. Seniors Grant Catloth and Ryan Jorgensen also each scored eight points for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs started the game trading baskets with Ottawa, but soon fell behind 18-14 after the first quarter.
"One thing we focused on was matching their intensity the first five minutes, because this was their first home game and we did that," Cooper said. "We were down a little bit, but I felt we competed all game long.
In the second quarter the Bulldogs trailed 25-18 before mounting a quick 5-0 run. BHS kept its deficit within five points before Ottawa hit a three-pointer in the final seconds of the half to take a 39-33 lead into the break.
"I know we were down a few, but I was happy," Cooper said. "A team like Ottawa will rattle teams early, because they are talented and their style of play. I think we matched that with our intensity."
Baldwin tied the game at 41-41 in the middle of the third quarter, but then Ottawa went on a 10-3 run. BHS trailed 52-50 heading into the final period.
The Bulldogs took their first lead of the game at 56-55 after Hannon sank two free throws with 5:22 left in the fourth quarter.
Ottawa led 62-58 with 52 seconds left, but Baldwin cut the lead and then Wieden hit his three-pointer that sent the game into overtime.
"We knew we wanted the win more than them," Wieden said. "We played harder and we were in better shape. We made less mistakes."
Hannon agrees about the Bulldogs making fewer mistakes than their opponent.
"We kept on playing hard defense and let them make the mistakes," Hannon said. "We just kept our heads in the game."
The Bulldogs only committed four turnovers after halftime. They shot 45 percent from the field, including seven three-pointers.
Cooper said the Bulldogs' success on offense made Ottawa change its defensive strategy.
"The one thing that was a compliment to us was they pulled out of their press and dropped back into a zone," Cooper said. "They never do that. It's not their style. It is definitely a compliment to us."
After more than three weeks without a game, the Bulldogs were glad to be back on the court Tuesday.
"We have been yearning to play for a long time," Wieden said. "Playing each other was getting old, so we were eager to play."
Cooper was very proud of the team, but he knows they will be even better on Friday when senior James Hightree sees his first action. Hightree is a 6-foot-5 senior who was home schooled until this year.
"This is a big win for us," Cooper said. "Plus we have a pretty large man that will be eligible on Friday. That will be good for us, too."
Hightree will be eligible Friday when the Bulldogs play host to Central Heights. Tipoff is expected to be at 8 p.m.