BHS varsity teams win at Atchison
A pair of victories Tuesday night in Atchison may have helped the Baldwin High School varsity basketball teams' sub-state seedings.
Both wins were crucial for the Bulldogs as they battled for potential seeding in next week's Class 4A sub-state tournament. The postseason action will begin Monday and Tuesday and finish up next weekend in Spring Hill.
The BHS boys (16-3) needed a win to at least clinch a tie with Saint James Academy for the No. 1 seed. The Bulldogs defeated Atchison 60-58 to improve its win streak to five games.
"It was a close game and tough the whole way through," coach Eric Toot said. "It's the first time we've been there and it was their senior night, so they were excited. They hit some huge shots, but our kids just hung tough late in the game. We made a few more plays at the end to win it."
One big play at the end of the contest came from senior Dustin Schiller. With the game tied 58-58 and the clock around 30 seconds, Schiller picked the pocket of Atchison's Anthony Downing. Schiller took the ball and sank a layup, which were the final points of the game.
Downing was the third 2008 McDonald's All American High School Basketball nominee the Bulldogs have faced this season. The other two are De Soto's Andre Linzy and Louisburg's Jordan Embers. They are three of Kansas' four players chosen for this honor, although more than 1,500 players are selected from around the country.
Toot said Schiller's steal was one of the best plays he's ever seen in a basketball game.
"He just made another great play," Toot said. "He's done it all year and tonight he did it against one of the best players in the state. He took the ball from him and made a layup."
He said that Schiller wasn't the only Bulldog to make a crucial play down the stretch Tuesday.
"We were down five with a minute to go and we had some kids step up and make some big shots," Toot said. "Drew Berg hit a big three and Clad (Kueffer) made a nice pass to Justin (Vander Tuig) to tie the game. Then Dustin made one of the best plays I've seen in basketball to give us the lead."
Berg, a senior, scored 16 points to lead BHS. Junior Brandon Tommer, Vander Tuig and Schiller each added 10 points.
The Bulldogs don't know who they will be hosting for the first round of sub-state as the brackets were released Wednesday after press time. There will be a story on the Signal's Web site releasing the sub-state seedings and schedule.
"For us to at least have a coin toss for the No. 1 seed, we needed a win tonight," Toot said. "I am really proud of our kids. It was important for our sub-state seeding. It may be a coin toss, but at least we did our part to give ourselves a shot at the No. 1 seed."
Although the boys' game provided a fantastic finish, the BHS girls' victory wasn't any less important. The girls' team (10-9) beat Atchison 58-31, picking up its first road victory since beating Osawatomie Jan. 18.
"It was good, because we have struggled to win on the road," senior Colby Heckathorne said. "It was nice to get a good, solid victory."
Baldwin took control in the first quarter with a 15-2 lead early in the game. The next two quarters were even, until BHS opened its lead in the fourth quarter.
Heckathorne led the Bulldogs in scoring with 11 points. Senior Ashley Tucker added 10, while senior Heather Garcia and junior Tracie Weege each chipped in eight a piece.
"I thought we came out pretty strong, scored early and never really felt very threatened by them after that," coach Bob Martin said. "We struggled a bit offensively. We got a lot of steals, but missed a lot of layups. Otherwise, we would have won by even more."
The BHS girls' team will most likely be on the road Monday for the first round of sub-state, according to Martin.
Before the Bulldogs begin postseason play, they will each host Ottawa tonight for senior night. The first game begins at 4:30 p.m. with the varsity following at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
"It will be our last home game, so, hopefully, we will try and make it a good one," Heckathorne said. "We always want to do the best we can in sub-state. It should be a fun week."