BHS seniors secure league win
Eudora Dustin Schiller and Drew Berg were bound and determined to avoid dejÃ vu here Friday.
With the Frontier League contest in jeopardy, the pair of Baldwin High School seniors made big plays down the stretch to lead BHS to victory.
Baldwin (5-1) defeated the Cardinals 46-38 to win its third consecutive game. The first league game for the Bulldogs could have larger implications later on in the season, including the Baldwin Invitational Tournament.
"This was an important game," BHS coach Eric Toot said. "It was our first league game. We've got the BIT coming up, so it was important for seeding. Eudora is in our sub-state, so it's important for sub-state seeding. It's not easy to come over here and win, but our kids responded. It was an important game for us."
During the final two minutes of Friday's game, Schiller and Berg each stepped up for the Bulldogs, but on opposite sides of the court.
After the Cardinals closed the BHS lead to four points, Berg sank two free throws with 1:01 left.
"Our kids did a great job of executing under two minutes," Toot said. "Anytime you get Drew to the line, you have to feel good about your chances of winning the game late."
Eudora's next two possessions were short as Schiller and junior Clad Kueffer each stole the ball from the Cardinals.
With 36.1 seconds remaining, Berg once again drained a pair of free throws to increase the BHS lead to eight points.
Schiller then robbed the Cardinals' point guard as he approached half court. Schiller was fouled on his layup attempt and sank one of his two foul shots to increase the BHS lead to nine.
"He's a really smart player," Toot said. "He knew that we had fouls to give, so if he fouled it wouldn't hurt us. He took some chances and went for some steals and it worked out. As a coach, I probably need to take more advantage of that, but I'm so headstrong on half court defense. He is starting to convince me and we're giving him more freedom."
Schiller confirmed Toot's story, adding that he wanted to go for the steals.
"I walked up to Toot and asked if I could go for the steals, because we only had four fouls," Schiller said. "He said 'go ahead, just don't get beat,' and I didn't."
After a Cardinals' missed field goal, Berg snatched the defensive rebound. He was immediately fouled. He went to the line, where he made one of his two free throws. It would be enough as Eudora didn't score in the final 13.5 seconds.
"They cut it to four and our kids kept their composure and kept playing tough," Toot said. "Like I said, it was just physical the whole night. We responded well I thought. We made plays when we had to and we played well on the defensive end. I'm proud of how our kids toughed it out."
Baldwin carried a four-point lead into the final quarter Friday. Two baskets by Schiller and a pair of free throws helped BHS increase its lead to 10 with 4:14 remaining.
Eudora sparked a 6-0 run in the next two minutes, but the Bulldogs answered with plays from Schiller and Berg. Schiller contributed four steals and five assists to the victory, while Berg scored 11 points. Junior Brandon Tommer led the Bulldogs with 12 points.
"We were all really excited for the game," Schiller said. "We were all pumped and ready to play the game. We came out playing pretty hard. It was a really intense game. The crowd might think it was sloppy, but I think we played pretty good."
Toot was especially pleased with the Bulldogs' toughness against the Cardinals.
"It was a very physical game," Toot said. "I'm proud of how our kids played tough and fought through it. As the year goes on, that usually happens, too. You have to be tougher and play through it. I thought our kids showed better composure than I did tonight."
The BHS senior point guard agreed with his coach, saying the contest felt like a postseason game.
"It was really physical," Schiller said. "It was pretty much like a sub-state game. It was a good test for us."
The Bulldogs will play Paola at home Friday. The varsity game will begin at 7:30 p.m. with the first game beginning at 4:30 p.m.
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