BHS survives Chieftain run
What looked to be a blowout soon became a battle for sub-state survival Monday night.
After taking a 19-point lead in the third quarter, the Baldwin High School boys' basketball team (16-5) began to unravel during the opening round of sub-state basketball.
Fortunately for the Bulldogs, senior Blake Wieden sank five of his final six free throws to help BHS defeat Tonganoxie 70-62.
"We knew we had to have them to stay in the game," Wieden said. "Luckily, they went in."
Coach Eric Toot said Wieden has been a clutch player for the Bulldogs all season.
"We've had kids step up and make some big shots," Toot said. "Blake stepped up tonight and hit some free throws. We want the ball in his hands at the end of the game and he showed why tonight."
Toot was happy his team was able to win and advance Monday.
"At this point in the season, you just want to win," Toot said. "You wish that you could hold on to your lead and finish the game off, but a win is a win at this point. We'll take it."
Baldwin will face Basehor-Linwood at 7:30 tonight in Tonganoxie.
"We've got a tough one," Toot said. "They are all going to be tough tonight. Basehor will be a good challenge for us."
Baldwin took a 51-35 lead into the fourth quarter and looked to be in control of the game. The Chieftains then turned up the defensive pressure and the Bulldogs became lack-luster on the offensive end.
Tonganoxie kept closing the lead during the final period and even took a 60-59 lead with 2:43 remaining.
"We have the mindset where we get passive when we have the lead," Toot said. "We stopped being aggressive like we should on both ends of the court tonight. You have to give them credit, because they stepped up and hit some huge shots."
Wieden then hit a shot to give Baldwin a 61-60 lead, but Tonganoxie answered with a pair of free throws. BHS senior Sam Scott sank a layup to give BHS a 63-62 lead with 1:23 left in the contest.
"Once again, the kids showed heart," Toot said. "We got down one with a lot of time left. We just came back, got our aggression back and were able to finish the game off."
The Bulldogs held the Chieftains scoreless for the remainder of the game, advancing to the sub-state semifinal game.
"We had a defensive collapse in the fourth quarter," Scott said. "We weren't making shots either, which is never good. They got on a run and luckily we had the composure to hold and win it."
Baldwin began the game with a marginal lead and increased the lead in the second quarter. BHS led 21-18 before it sank three consecutive three-pointers within 1:17.
The Bulldogs led 36-22 at halftime, thanks to free throws by juniors Dustin Schiller and Jesse Green.
"We had a nice run in the second quarter," Toot said. "We were just executing well against their zone. We worked a lot on their zone defense, but when they switched to man, we struggled a bit tonight."
Baldwin maintained its lead during the third quarter as it sank a trio of three-pointers. Junior Drew Berg, sophomore Brandon Tommer and Wieden each knocked down a long-range shot during the period.
"We tried to keep up the intensity in the third quarter," Scott said. "We still had a 13-point lead at the end of the quarter."
Wieden led Baldwin with 25 points Monday night. Senior Andrew Madl added 14 while Berg contributed 17 to the win. Scott grabbed 11 rebounds for BHS.
"I thought Sam Scott was the key tonight," Toot said. "He dominated the glass in the first half and held, what I consider their best player, in check all night."
Last Thursday, Baldwin traveled to Prairie View for its final regular season contest. BHS won 49-32 as it controlled the game from the beginning.
Now BHS will continue playing in sub-state as it will match up against Basehor at 7:30 tonight. The sub-state championship will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Tonganoxie.