Winning records keep BHS basketball coaches happy at break
Both Baldwin High School basketball coaches are happy to have winning records after five games, but they don’t share the same feelings on Christmas break.
After five games during a 12-day stretch to open the season, both BHS teams are above .500 and loaded with young talent and senior leaders. They took different paths to their winning records, which might be why one coach will cherish the break and the other wishes they could keep playing.
The Bulldogs will resume practice Tuesday after a six-day layoff to prepare for the final two months of the regular season. The BHS girls return to action Jan. 3, while the boys’ next game is Jan. 7.
“It’s about the right amount of time,” coach Bob Martin said. “We would get a little antsy if we had any more practice. With six days, you worry if you’ll be in game shape when you come back, but we’ll be ready to play hard.
“We have some kids that need some time off. Some of them have nagging injuries that we don’t want to become serious things, so this will give them a chance to heal.”
On the flip side, BHS boys’ coach Eric Toot wishes his team was still playing games instead of practicing for nearly two weeks before its next contest.
“My biggest concern with taking a break is once we come back, can we keep it going?” Toot said. “We are on a nice roll and we’re doing some things very well. When we come back, we will try to stress those things again. We will try to get better at what we do as a team.”
The Baldwin High boys team won its last three games after beginning the season with losses at Santa Fe Trail and against Burlington. BHS defeated Iola to play Louisburg for third place in the Anderson County Invitational.
Baldwin won the game 57-54 to place third. Four days later, the Bulldogs played Paola for its home opener, winning 53-42 to begin the Frontier League season with a victory.
“The biggest thing was we were playing hard and doing things right,” Toot said. “We just kept believing that we could win. In the first two games, we just didn’t shoot the ball very well. We had a four- or five-minute scoring drought in the first game, and we went close to six minutes without scoring against Burlington.
“We really talked to the kids about how we really can’t let that happen,” he said. “We have to get a bucket or get some free throws. In the last three games, we didn’t have those long scoring droughts. It just makes the rest of the game easy when you are making shots.”
One reason for the turnaround after the opening two games was improved defense as a result of making shots, Toot said. He said the Bulldogs were able to knock down shots in the last two contests.
“I thought we’ve played good defense all year, but when you can make some buckets, it helps your defense,” Toot said. “When you’re always transitioning off of missed shots, it’s hard on your defense and hard to stop good teams. When you’re making some baskets, you can get back and get your defense set.”
On the girls side, Baldwin High (4-1) began the season with victories over Santa Fe Trail, Burlington and Iola. The Bulldogs fell to Louisburg in double overtime in the championship game of the Anderson County Invitational after leading for 27 minutes in regulation.
“That one still kind of eats at you a little bit,” Martin said. “We were right there. I felt like that’s something that we got a lot better at against Paola. I thought we executed really well at the end of the game against Paola. I think that’s something that the Louisburg game will teach us. We need to learn to put people away and take control of situations better.”
Baldwin rebounded by beating Paola at home to win its first Frontier League contest just four days after the Louisburg loss. In their five games, the Bulldogs are averaging 61.4 points per contest. Although his team if 4-1, the coach said he and his players agreed there was plenty of room for improvement.
“We feel like we are going in the right direction,” Martin said. “I think we’ve played pretty well, but I think we all realize that we can be so much better. I think we can still be better defensively and we need to execute better offensively.
“I’ve been very happy with our effort every game,” he said. “We’ve been playing really unselfishly. We look to share the ball, and I think that’s why we’ve had success on offense. We just have to get a little bit better on executing our offense.”
After the break, both BHS teams will play a home and away game with each league school, except Paola, who it will just play on the road. Beginning on Jan. 18, the BHS boys will host the Baldwin Invitational. The BHS girls will travel to Wellsville for the Top Gun Invitational on Jan. 25.
“We need to get some wins in those three games to try and help our seed in the BIT,” Toot said. “It will be a fun week for us, as it always is. We don’t have any breaks once we come back from Christmas. Once we get going, it will be a lot of basketball.”