Archive for Thursday, March 8, 2007

Column: BHS winter season ends with thrilling end

March 8, 2007

It's amazing how the highs and lows of one season can all happen within a 48-hour span.

Baldwin High School boys' basketball coach Eric Toot put it best when he said, "The reality of sports can be cruel."

Sports can be cruel. One minute you can be on top of the world celebrating a come-from-behind win that came down to the buzzer, and the next game you are letting a few tears shed after a losing the potential buzzer-beater game.

Why? Why does this happen?

Maybe to teach us a lesson or maybe to help us understand that life can be that cruel that quickly. I am not sure why this happens in sports so often, but you see it many times in the NCAA tournament, which begins next week.

Whatever the reason is, we as sports fans don't care. The loss or defeat is tough to swallow for a while, but given enough time, we get right back out there and play or cheer for our team.

I know I am not going to stop attending BHS basketball games because of this weekend. I've seen it many times during my young life, more often with the BHS girls' team, but still too many to count.

The Baldwin boys' team (17-6) is probably still hurting from its 41-39 loss to Piper Saturday. The Bulldogs had a shot to win the game with a late-three pointer, but it fell short.

The Bulldogs may not have needed the last-second shot if they were able to sink more free throws. They only made 13 of 21 attempts.

On the flip side of that, the game probably shouldn't have even come down to that final shot. Piper only sank 12 of its 22 foul shots, including 5 of 13 in the fourth quarter.

There were a few questionable calls during the game, as there are in every contest. BHS senior Blake Wieden drove in for a layup late in the game and, in my opinion and many Baldwin fans' eyes, he was fouled.

The basket would have given Baldwin a one-point lead with less than a minute left, but instead for the Bulldogs they had to foul the Pirates.

Blaming the officials for the game is easy but not the correct thing to do. I left the game mad at the no-call, but after thinking about it later, I realized that Baldwin had other opportunities to take the lead.

The Bulldogs struggled offensively all night, partly because of the Piper defense. If BHS would have made a few more shots earlier in the game, the no-call might not have happened.

Either way, it was a great game to watch. I was proud of the Bulldogs for their effort and willingess to never give up. Baldwin came into the game off a huge win over Basehor last Thursday where it overcame an 11-point deficit to win in the final minute.

Baldwin could have been content with making the sub-state finals after that victory, but it wasn't. Piper was the No. 1 seed, so BHS could have folded the game from an intimidation standpoint since the Pirates were taller and more athletic. Baldwin didn't.

The Bulldogs played a great game that they should be proud of. Coming that close to a state berth and losing hurts, but they have nothing to be ashamed of.

Some people that should be ashamed are the BHS "Super fans." These fans consist of five or six senior boys who dress up differently every game and root on the Bulldogs.

Throughout Saturday's contest the "Super fans" could be seen standing and not cheering. There were several instances late in the fourth quarter where they were almost pouting and sad that Baldwin wasn't winning, while the other student cheered and tried to pump the crowd up.

It was quite the pathetic sight. They were on the front row and supposed to be the student leaders and they were sad because Baldwin wasn't getting the officials calls or couldn't take a lead. It was embarrassing as a Baldwin fan and BHS alum.

The "Super fans" also didn't bother to show up Friday night for the girls' semifinal contest. Why not attend the girls' games, too? They held the same record as the boys and had an equal shot of making state as the boys.

In hindsight, the girls' game didn't offer much to cheer about, sadly, but the "Super fans" absence was inexcusable. The girls struggled finding an offensive rhythm and exited early from the sub-state tournament.

The BHS girls' team had a great season but were exposed for its one-person offense in their final contest. Eudora knew the Bulldogs relied on senior Kelsey Verhaeghe too much and that came back to bite Baldwin.

The Bulldogs' coaching staff needed to find a way to get Verhaeghe open or run the plays for other teammates. Eudora knew Baldwin's kryptonite and the Bulldogs couldn't overcome that weakness.

It was an exciting weekend in Tonganoxie, despite the games' results. I am still hoping for a trip to Salina for basketball, since I did travel there for wrestling.

Well, maybe next year?

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