Career high kicks off Bulldogs’ season
LOUISBURG -- It wasn't the prettiest of season openers, but Brandon Tommer did his best to lead the Baldwin High School boys' basketball team to a victory here Monday.
Tommer, BHS junior, scored 28 points to lead the Bulldogs (1-0) as they defeated Anderson County 73-54 in the Wildcat/Bulldog Classic.
"We kind of played a little sloppy, but we still got the win," Tommer said. "That's all that matters."
The first victory of the season didn't come without numerous turnovers and several other mistakes. BHS coach Eric Toot was pleased to win the first game of the season, but he knows there is room for improvement all around the court.
"It was good to get out and play and get a film on us to see what we need to work on," Toot said. "I was pleased with the victory, but I was also pleased with effort. I know it wasn't a pretty game, as far as execution. I thought our kids really played hard. We gave a solid effort the whole game."
BHS committed 27 turnovers in the contest. The players knew it was sloppy, but they said it reminds them that they have much to improve upon.
"We really struggled at times with turnovers and handling the ball, but a lot of that is them and how they play," Toot said. "They play full-court defense where they trap a lot. When you play against a team like that, you want to attack. It was good to play against a team like that."
Although Baldwin committed 27 turnovers, Toot said many of them were forced by the Anderson County defense. The AC Bulldogs used a full-court press defense against Baldwin all night, which caused the BHS Bulldogs to rush their offense.
"It was a good chance for us to get out and run," freshman Justin Vander Tuig said. "They were playing tough defense on us, but we fought through it. We handled the pressure well. It was fun to get out and play."
Baldwin's offense primarily relied on fast-break opportunities from the full-court defense. Toot said he wishes his team could have run more of its half-court sets, but his players adapted to the Anderson County defense.
"We really never got into our offense," Toot said. "That's more because of the type of defense they were playing. They were letting us shoot layups and get to the hole. When we took care of the ball, we ran our break extremely well and we were unselfish."
Senior Drew Berg agreed with his coach.
"We had a lot of fast-break opportunities," Berg said. "We were running the floor pretty well. We didn't really set up in our offense much, but we didn't have to."
Tommer's game-high 28 points were spread out during the game. He scored eight in the first quarter, six in the second quarter, 10 in the third and four in the final period of the game.
He helped blow the game open with a pair of three pointers in the third quarter. Tommer said he was just trying to do what he could to help the team win.
"I didn't expect to score that many at all," Tommer said. "I just kept getting easy shots and layups. I just tried to take advantage of all my opportunities. I just tried to help us win."
Two other BHS players scored in double digits. They were seniors Berg (12 points) and Jesse Green (10).
Berg said the team showed signs of playing its first game, but also saw areas to improve.
"We played really hard, but you could tell it was our first game," Berg said. "We still have a lot of stuff to work on."
Both Bulldog teams hung together early in the game, but Baldwin took a five-point lead in the final minute of the first quarter.
BHS soon opened that up to a 10-point lead with baskets from Berg and Tommer. Anderson County closed the gap to six points, before Baldwin finished the first half with a 9-2 run. BHS led 39-26 at half.
Green scored one layup and two free throws during the surge, as Tommer also contributed one free throw. The final four points came from senior Josh Beaulieu, who sank a three-pointer and the ensuing foul shot after the basket.
"I thought we were good at times, but we had too many breakdowns," Toot said. "They were smaller and I think our size actually hurt us, because it was hard for us to match up. That's also good to see the first game."
Baldwin maintained its lead during the second half as it increased the gap slightly in the third quarter. Seven Baldwin players scored in the season-opening victory.
"It was fun and I just tried to help the team out as much as I could," Vander Tuig said. "It was a fun night."
BHS played Burlington on Wednesday night, but results were unavailable at press time. The results will be posted on the Signal Web site at www.baldwincity.com. BHS will finish off the Wildcat/Bulldog Classic by playing host Louisburg at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
"We come back to play Louisburg on their home court," Toot said. "They are one of the best teams in the state, so it should be a good challenge for us."