Bulldogs begin league play 2-0
A final tune-up before its home tournament was almost a walk in the park for the Baldwin High School boys' basketball squad.
Paola only scored four first-half points as the Bulldogs (6-1) cruised to victory at home Friday night 54-28. It was the second Frontier League win for the Bulldogs, who defeated Eudora the previous week.
Friday's contest was the final one before the Bulldogs began play in the Baldwin Invitational Tournament on Tuesday.
"It was a nice win and we are 2-0 in the league now," Freshman Justin Vander Tuig said. "We have good momentum heading into the BIT."
BHS coach Eric Toot hopes the victory will give his team confidence heading into the busy part of the season.
"We are 2-0 in the league and that's the most important thing," Toot said. "We want to stay up there at the top and have a chance at the end to compete for the league championship."
The Panthers scored the first basket of the game. However, they failed to score another point for more than 10 minutes.
During that time, Baldwin finally got on the board after more than two minutes of action. Then BHS went on a 19-0 run before Paola scored its second field goal.
"It definitely helps us get more comfortable," Vander Tuig said of the early lead. "You're not worried about making mistakes and you just go out and have fun."
Senior Drew Berg and junior Brandon Tommer combined to score 14 points during that 19-0 stretch. Even after Paola scored its second bucket, BHS finished the half on a 10-0 spurt.
Vander Tuig and senior Jesse Green each scored four points, while senior Dustin Schiller added the other two during the second quarter run.
"It's important that we get off to a good start," Toot said. "Our defense leads to our offense. If we don't foul, rebound and we keep the game going, we can take advantage of Dustin's skills at point guard."
Toot added the Bulldogs' defense also contributed to the first half margin.
"Tonight, during the first half, we couldn't have played any better," Toot said. "We executed well on offense and we were really solid on defense. We gave up some open shots, but they just didn't knock them down. Overall, I thought we did a great job of helping each other and playing team defense."
Paola did manage to score nine points in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs kept their lead as they put up 14 points themselves.
The final quarter of action was similar, but the Panthers slightly closed the lead during the final eight minutes.
"In the second half, we fouled too much and slowed the game down," Toot said. "We didn't get out and run as much."
Vander Tuig credited the second half slump to the large lead at halftime.
"We had a few bad minutes there, but we came back and fought through it," Vander Tuig said. "That happens sometimes when you get a big lead."
The Bulldogs began play in the BIT Tuesday. They will also play Friday and Saturday to wrap up the tournament. Toot said the team is ready to play more than one game a week during the rest of the season.
"We are very excited about next week," Toot said. "Three games in a week is what we are looking forward to. We want to play more than one game a week and the kids are excited about that."