Bulldogs finish fourth at BIT
After a tough loss to Ottawa Friday night, Baldwin High School boys' basketball coach Heath Cooper hoped to see his team bounce back Saturday night and pick up a win.
The Bulldogs came within seven seconds of doing just that.
Mill Valley beat Baldwin 48-47 Saturday night in the consolation finals of the Baldwin Invitational Tournament. The Jaguars hit a three-pointer with seven seconds left to win the game.
"This is our toughest loss of the year," Cooper said. "The Eudora loss was tough, because we just didn't shoot well. Last (Friday) night I thought we came out, played hard and just got beat. Tonight, we beat them (Mill Valley) in every phase of the game. We out rebounded them. We had more shots than they did."
Baldwin led 47-45 after senior James Hightree sank one of two free throws with 29 seconds remaining.
Mill Valley gained possession from a jump ball on the rebound of Hightree's second free throw. Then the Jaguars came down and Mill Valley senior Jack Johnson hit the game-winning shot.
"Give credit to Mill Valley," Cooper said. "They made a shot when they had to."
Baldwin had one last shot attempt, but it missed as time ran out.
"Close games like that make it a lot harder," senior Jeremy Wright said. "When you fight like that until the end, and come up short, it's really tough."
Baldwin scored six points in the fourth quarter and only converted one of three free throws in the final minute.
"In the fourth quarter, we were two of eight from the field and one of three from the free throw line," Cooper said. "In close games, you have to make those plays."
Wright led the Bulldogs with 18 points and eight rebounds.
The Bulldogs led 41-39 at the start of the fourth quarter, after finishing the third period with a 9-0 run. Wright and senior Aaron Hannon each hit a three-pointer in the final seconds of the third quarter to give BHS a lead.
"It got us back in the game, with six straight points," Wright said. "They were huge shots."
Cooper agreed and was glad to see the seniors make big shots.
"They were huge," Cooper said. "The seniors made the plays there."
Mill Valley led 26-25 at halftime after Johnson hit a three-pointer as time ran out.
To start the game, Baldwin fell behind 7-0 and never found its offense as it trailed 13-8 after the first quarter.
"I thought we were very flat at the start," Cooper said. "It's something we talked about the night before and today. We came out flat and got down early, but we fought back."
Wright also said the team came out slow Saturday night.
"The atmosphere was a little different than the night before," Wright said. "We just came out flat, you could tell."
On Friday night, Baldwin faced off with Ottawa in the semifinal round of the BIT. The Bulldogs fell behind early and never recovered as they lost 75-58.
"It was a war, that's for sure," Wright said. "It was another up and down game, which we expected. They are athletic and a good team."
Cooper said the team missed too many lay-ups against Ottawa.
"We got our butts kicked," Cooper said. "I think Ottawa took us out of what we wanted to do. We played extremely hard and our guys never gave up. If I go back to the film, I guarantee we missed at least 15 lay-ups. We just can't do that against good teams."
Cooper said if BHS could have converted some of its lay-ups, the game would have been much different.
"To me, that is the story of the game," Cooper said about the missed lay-ups. "We missed at least 10 lay-ups in the first half. We just can't do that. If we make those lay-ups, they are setting up against our press instead of running down the court."
Baldwin led 11-8 midway through the first quarter, but then Ottawa went on a 15-4 run to end the quarter. The Bulldogs cut the lead to six in the second quarter, but the Cyclones opened their lead to 40-25 at halftime.
The Bulldogs never cut the lead to single digits as Ottawa rolled to victory.
"Against a good team, you can't play catch up all night long," Cooper said. "Eventually that catches up to you."
Hannon led the team with 26 points against Ottawa. Wright added 14 in the loss.
The Bulldogs finished fourth in the tournament after placing third a year ago.
"It is really disappointing, because this is the lowest we have finished the last two years," Cooper said. "But it is a good tournament with good teams. The four teams that won in the first round, had a combined record of 31-3. We lost to two ranked 5A teams. If there is anything to take out of this, that is it."
Cooper said he wants the Bulldogs to forget about the two losses.
"I think we just have to put this whole thing behind us," Cooper said. "It's kind of a cliche, but this season is a marathon. We are halfway through and most importantly, we are 3-0 in the league."
"I take two things out of this," Cooper said. "We are still undefeated in the league and games like that prepare us for sub-state. We got DeSoto Friday and we will be ready to play."
The Bulldogs play host to DeSoto Friday. The freshman play at 5 p.m., followed by the junior varsity and varsity boys' teams.
"It will be a good way to start off the second half of the season," Wright said. "We just need to go out and play hard."