Seniors save victory during final seconds
Richmond Dustin Schiller doesn't shoot the ball often, but he can be a clutch offensive performer.
The Baldwin High School senior was averaging less than one field goal per game entering Tuesday's contest here against Central Heights.
Schiller's six points, all of which came in the fourth quarter, helped lead the Bulldogs to victory. Baldwin (3-1) rallied to beat the Vikings 34-33.
"Dustin is a fighter," coach Eric Toot said. "He pretty much willed us to that win."
With the Bulldogs trailing by two points with 30 seconds left in the game, Schiller drove up court looking to pass the ball, his usual first option. Once he drove within 15 feet of the basket and the defense cleared away, he saw his opportunity to tie the game. He capitalized and sank the jumper.
"I drove a little bit and everyone kind of parted," Schiller said. "I was 'all right, I'll take the shot.' I was happy it went in."
Nearly 15 seconds later, Schiller intercepted a Vikings' pass and headed down court with the ball. He was fouled as his layup rolled in, giving BHS a 32-30 lead.
"The whole team was playing pretty good defense, but I just happened to be at the right spot at the right time," Schiller said. "We were a little lucky tonight. We played really badly. We didn't listen to our coach. He was pretty mad about that. We are just happy we got the win, I guess."
Schiller also sank two free throws earlier in the quarter on consecutive possessions.
Although Schiller missed the free throw, BHS maintained possession, as the foul was called flagrant by the officials. With 3.2 seconds remaining in the game, senior Drew Berg sealed the victory sinking two foul shots.
"He is the guy we want with the ball on the free throw line at the end," Toot said of Berg. "He showed why tonight."
Berg gave Schiller credit for Tuesday's win, despite leading BHS in scoring with 15 points.
"Dustin did a great job tonight," Berg said. "He had two big steals and two huge buckets. He's the reason why we won the game."
Baldwin trailed 30-23 with 1:20 left in the game, but never stopped fighting. Berg scored a basket to cut the lead to five points, before dishing the ball to junior Brandon Tommer for a three-pointer on the next possession. Tommer's shot cut the lead to 30-28.
The Vikings missed a pair of free throws with 33 ticks left on the clock. Then came Schiller's late game heroics.
"Dustin and Drew stepped up as our senior leaders," said Toot. "That's why they are our captains. I don't know what else to say, except those two were going to play until the very end, no matter what. They didn't want to lose."
Although Toot was pleased to get the victory, he said there wasn't much to be happy about Tuesday.
"That's probably the only positive we can take out of tonight is that we won," Toot said. "We hung around, kept battling and got the win. Besides that, there weren't a whole lot of positives in our play."
Berg agreed with his coach, saying the Vikings are a good team and played well Tuesday night.
"We didn't play well, but Central Heights is a really well-coached team," Berg said. "They played really well tonight. We are just lucky to come away with a win. We didn't play our best game tonight, that's for sure."
Baldwin never got into any rhythm offensively as it shot 24 percent from the field. BHS trailed 14-8 after the first quarter, but tied the game at 16-16 at halftime. Tommer sank a three-pointer as time ran out in the second quarter.
Neither team managed to find the basket much during the third quarter. The Vikings scored five points, which was enough to lead by three as Baldwin scored one basket.
The Bulldogs went more than eight minutes after that goal without scoring. Berg broke the ice in the final quarter with a three-point play.
"We missed a lot of easy layups and we didn't execute on offense," Berg said. "We didn't run the offense well at all."
Toot was disappointed with the Bulldogs' offensive effort Tuesday.
"We rushed on offense and we settled for three-pointers," Toot said. "Instead of being aggressive, we just kept firing up jump shots. We didn't run our offense like we should. We missed a ton of easy ones and, to me, that's just a lack of focus."
The Bulldogs have one last contest before the Christmas break. Toot said they will have to work hard to get better before Friday's home game.
"We have two practices and we have to get better," Toot said. "We have to learn to execute better and have some more focus. I have to do a better job of coaching."
Baldwin will host Wellsville at 8 p.m. Friday in the Baldwin Junior High School gym. It will be the first home game of the season for BHS.
"We can't wait to play at home in front of our crowd," Berg said. "They are awesome. After games like this, you just want to get out and play again."