Lack of leadership, size may hurt BHS girls next year
An early exit from the Class 4A sub-state didn't take away the Baldwin High School girls' basketball team's season.
The Bulldogs fell to Eudora in the semifinal round of sub-state March 2, ending a season in which they recorded a record of 16-6 and 8-4 in the Frontier League.
"I think the way it ended was very sad, but looking back on the season, we accomplished a lot," junior Colby Heckathorne said. "We should be proud of what we did."
Heading into the 2006-2007 campaign, the Bulldogs were missing four seniors who started almost every game from a year ago. They were Amy Craig, Katelyn Miles, Ellie Meinen and Denise Orloff.
Despite the loss of those players, BHS found a way to finish tied for fourth in the league and receive a No. 2 seed in the sub-state tournament.
"We had a really successful season," coach Bob Martin said. "We lost four starters from last year, so we had to replace those positions. I thought we would have a good year."
The missing seniors weren't the only things BHS was lacking this season. The Bulldogs won 16 games without the use of a player taller than 5-foot-9.
"We weren't very big at all," Martin said. "Our girls really responded to that, but we were probably outsized every game we played. We still had a tremendous year."
Seniors Katie Frank and Becca Stroman were both listed at 5-9. The size problem was counteracted by the Bulldogs' quickness.
"That was the choice we had to make at the start of the year," Martin said. "I felt like we had that kind of team. We had a lot of quickness and were able to put a lot of pressure on people. We made some things happen defensively, which helped us come out on top more often than not."
Baldwin averaged nearly 15 steals per game, led by junior Heather Garcia, who averaged 3.71 takeaways per contest. Senior Kelsey Verhaeghe and Heckathorne each averaged more than two steals per game.
However, no Bulldog averaged more than six rebounds a contest. Stroman and junior Ashley Tucker each grabbed more than five a game.
Tucker will be the only post player returning next year that played significant minutes. Heckathorne isn't too worried about the lack of size, because the team has adjusted to being smaller than its opponents.
"This year we didn't have that much size and we lost some of it," Heckathorne said. "We are already used to being smaller than everyone else."
BHS will lose five seniors from this year's roster. Verhaeghe led the Bulldogs in scoring , averaging 16.3 points a game. Sophomore Tracie Weege was the next highest with a 7.9 point average.
The other seniors that played were Amanda Vander Tuig and Emily Krysztof.
"We are going to lose five seniors who played a big role for us and have for the last four years," Martin said. "If anything, you look at these girls as great leaders. Our seniors provided great leadership for us. That's going to be hard to replace."
Although it loses five seniors, the BHS team will return four players who started nearly every game. Junior Callie Craig joined Garcia and Heckathorne in the starting line up almost every night. Tucker also started nearly half of the contests.
"We return four girls that started quite a bit for us, but height could still be a problem for us next year," Martin said. "Hopefully, we will find ways to solve that. If the girls step up and take some leadership roles, we should have a good season."
Heckathorne is looking forward to next winter, because she believes the team will be successful once again.
"We will miss the seniors a lot, but we will do the best we can," Heckathorne said. "Hopefully, we will have what it takes next year."