Alumni assist Bulldogs in preparing for Cardinals
With a rivalry game coming up Friday, the Baldwin High School boys' and girls' basketball teams turned to former teammates to help them prepare.
Both BHS teams held alumni scrimmages during the past week, as the Bulldogs get ready to play at Eudora Friday night. It was the first of its kind for the boys' team, but everyone enjoyed the action.
"It was good to get out with these guys and play a little bit," said Jeremy Wright, 2006 BHS graduate. "It was definitely a workout. It was hard to keep up with these guys."
BHS senior Jesse Green also enjoyed the boys' alumni scrimmage Monday afternoon.
"It was a lot of fun," Green said. "It was good to see all of the guys come back that I haven't seen since last year or the year before."
Six alumni players scrimmaged Monday afternoon. The 2007 graduates were Caj Kueffer, Andrew Madl, Blake Wieden and Sam Scott. Wright and Aaron Hannon were the 2006 graduates. Joining the alumni team was Mike Everett, open gym supervisor.
Boys' coach Eric Toot said he wanted players that have recently graduated to scrimmage for a couple of reasons.
"If you just find the right mix of guys, which I tried to do, you know you are going to get good competition," Toot said. "If you get young guys who are only a year or two out of high school, they are usually a lot smarter and stronger. They can really give you a good run."
The BHS girls' team scrimmaged against several alumnae on Saturday afternoon. Eight former players showed up to scrimmage, most of which were from the 2004 class. The 2004 graduates were Kalie Harris, Jamie Lawrenz, Erica Ogle, Anna Gillispie and Leslie Gillispie. Ellie Meinen and Denise Orloff represented the 2006 graduating class, while Amanda Vander Tuig was the lone 2007 alumna.
While the girls' team has been scrimmaging the alumni for several years during the Christmas break, this was the first year for the BHS boys' squad. Toot enjoyed the scrimmage, because his team played hard against good competition.
"It was good to get out and play," Toot said. "The alumni are pretty talented kids, so it was nice to get out and play against some different competition. I think that helps us, because older guys play a lot more physical. That's good for us to play against.
"You can scrimmage in practice against each other, but it's better if you can find some pretty good players to bring in," Toot said. "It gives us a different look and makes it more like a game."
No scores were kept in any of the games, but when asked after the game, most players thought the contests were very well-matched.
"It was a little competitive," Green said. "We wanted to win, not lose. It was pretty fun."
Wright said he thought the alumni won a couple of the eight-minute quarters that they played, but he was complimentary of the Bulldogs' team this season.
"We won a couple, but it's all in good fun and competitiveness," Wright said. "They are a good team and I wish them the best of luck this year. They are really fundamentally sound. They move the ball really well and try to get the best shot. They have some size, too. It was fun to get out and play with them."
Now both BHS teams must focus in on the Cardinals as they head to Eudora Friday. The girls play at 6 p.m. and the boys at 7:30 p.m.
A year ago, the BHS girls' season ended in sub-state at the hands of Eudora. Friday will be the first time the two teams have played since that contest.
The BHS boys will be looking to avenge a last-second loss at Eudora last year. Baldwin lost that game 47-46, despite leading by 11 points in the fourth quarter.
"We are really looking forward to playing Eudora," Green said. "It's always a fun game."
Toot added that the Cardinals are a good team and will provide another tough game for the Bulldogs.
"It's our first league game so we should be pretty excited about it," Toot said. "Eudora is well coached and is a good basketball team. It ought to be a good game. Hopefully, we will play our game and come out on top."
After Friday's game, the Bulldogs will next play Jan. 11. Then the season picks up with games twice a week and tournaments. Toot said his team must improve during the next week, before practices become scarce.
"We are about halfway through our break and we are trying to get everything ready for the long run to finish the season," Toot said. "Practices will be few and far between once games get going. This week of practice is pretty important."
One player that will be back for BHS is senior Zach Durr. He injured his ankle during football season, but has been practicing recently.
"Zach has been cleared and he has been practicing over break," Toot said. "We are just working him back in and hopefully he will be in the rotation by Friday and we'll see how he does. He still has a ways to go conditioning wise, but I think he'll give us a spark off the bench."