Archive for Thursday, February 1, 2007

Back-to-back champs

February 1, 2007

WELLSVILLE -- Bob Martin is now two-for-two when it comes to capturing Top Gun Tournament titles.

On Saturday, the Baldwin High School girls' basketball coach won his second straight championship here when his team defeated Ottawa 57-44.

"It feels really good," Martin said. "It was nice to get into this thing and to win like that was a lot of fun. I am really proud of our girls."

Martin took over the BHS girls' program in 2005 after former coach Eric Toot resigned. Since then, he has won the Top Gun twice.

Baldwin (9-3) beat Eudora 33-30 last year for the tournament championship. This year, BHS used a second quarter run to pull ahead of the Cyclones. The Bulldogs never looked back on their way to the title.

"It feels really good to win the tournament," junior Colby Heckathorne said. "We worked really hard for it and have now won it two years in a row. That's a big accomplishment."

With the score 13-9 after one quarter, Baldwin held Ottawa to only four points in the second quarter. BHS scored 16 in the quarter as five players contributed points.

"It seemed like it was a struggle all night and then I looked up in the second quarter and we are up 16," Martin said. "We went on like a 13-0 run and that was the difference in the game right there."

Baldwin went into halftime leading 29-13.

"At halftime, we were pretty comfortable with our lead," Heckathorne said. "Sometimes that's a problem, because the third quarter isn't comfortable."

BHS held its lead during the third quarter. In the final frame, Baldwin maintained its margin as sophomore Tracie Weege scored the final seven Bulldog points.

Weege scored 11 points in the victory, but it was senior Kelsey Verhaeghe who led the offense Saturday. Verhaeghe totaled 15 points.

"Kelsey showed that a quality player plays well in big games and she did," Martin said. "She was finding ways to make plays and that's what you really look for from a leader."

Although Verhaeghe led the offense, Martin was especially proud of junior Callie Craig. She guarded 5-foot-11 freshman Chantay Caren, despite only being 5-4 herself.

"We had a lot of people play well, but one person I have to say something about is Callie Craig," Martin said. "She was fighting a girl seven inches taller than her all night and she did a great job on her. We asked an awful lot out of that girl and she played her butt off on defense."

He was most proud of Craig, but Martin thought the BHS defense was terrific Saturday.

"Defensively, I thought we were good tonight," Martin said. "We got out and got pressure on them. It made it difficult for them to do what they wanted to do. There are certain strengths we have and we played to those tonight."

In the semifinal game last Thursday, Baldwin defeated Piper 64-56 to advance to the championship game.

"I am happy with tonight's game," Martin said last Thursday. "I thought we played a great first half. We got back on our heels during the second half and maybe lost a little focus. We are happy to go on to the championship game."

BHS jumped out to a 38-19 halftime lead against Piper. The lead may have been too comfortable for the Bulldogs.

"It was a pretty exciting game," senior Becca Stroman said. "We did a pretty good job in the first half, but we slowed up in the second half. It's hard to play that way sometimes, but we did a good job tonight."

Baldwin made five three-pointers in the first half and held the Pirates to only two points for a four-minute stretch during the second quarter.

"In the first half I thought our effort was great," Martin said. "I think we lost a little concentration in the second half and let some things get away from us. We had a nice lead and sometimes it's hard to play with a lead like that."

Piper began to slowly catch up in the second half, but the Bulldogs never let the Pirates within 14 points until the final two minutes of the contest.

"We had a little breathing room," Stroman said. "We just wanted to keep the lead and not do anything too crazy."

BHS did have trouble stopping Piper's Michelle Selbe, a 5-10 sophomore. Selbe scored XX points in the Pirate's loss.

"She is a good player," Martin said. "We did a good job of pressuring the guards and they were unable to get her the ball much in the first half. In the second half, their guards got her the ball in some spots and if you do that, you're in trouble."

Three Bulldogs made the all-tournament team. They were Stroman, Verhaeghe and Weege.

Baldwin resumes action at 8 p.m. tonight in Eudora.

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