Post players lead BHS boys to second straight victory
Justin Vander Tuig and Zach Wright led the Baldwin High School boys’ basketball team to its second straight win Tuesday night.
The pair of BHS post players combined for 38 points and 33 rebounds as the Bulldogs (6-7) took down Northern Heights 50-41 at home.
“Coach is always talking about getting the ball inside with our height and size,” Vander Tuig said. “We sure had those advantages tonight and we tried to establish that early. It really helped us out throughout the game.”
Vander Tuig (6-foot-9 junior) and Wright (6-4 senior) were taller than all of the Wildcats’ players. Their presence in the paint showed Tuesday. They combined to make 16 field goals. Vander Tuig led all scorers, with 26 points, while Wright added 12.
The duo was also dominant on the glass as both recorded double-doubles. Vander Tuig used his 6-9 frame to grab 22 rebounds. Wright had 11 to earn his double-double. BHS coach Eric Toot was also impressed with 6-5 senior Camdon Schwartz, who scored eight points Tuesday night.
“Justin and Zach played great tonight on both ends of the court,” Toot said. “They played unselfish, established their post position and cleaned up on the boards.
“I thought Camdon Schwartz was excellent defensively tonight,” he said. “He’s been a post his whole life and now he’s become our defensive stopper on their best perimeter player. That’s something I never thought I’d see out of Camdon, but that shows what kind of strides he’s made as a player over the last four years.”
The only flaw for Vander Tuig and Wright came at the free throw line. Vander Tuig made six of 13 shots, while Wright missed all six of his attempts.
It wasn’t just those two who missed foul shots as the rest of the team combined to shoot four-of-eight from the line. Junior Nate Growcock was the only Bulldog who made all his, two-for-two, free throws.
“We’ve struggled all year from there,” Toot said. “Believe me, we work on it and talk about it. We’re trying to get better and we’ll continue to do so. We can’t get frustrated, but we need to keep getting to the line. Hopefully, it will click.”
BHS missed five free throws in the first quarter, but still built a 12-8 lead by scoring six shots in the paint. Baldwin continued to add to its lead as it outscored Northern Heights 23-8 during the next 12 minutes of action.
The Wildcats kept inching closer during the second half and even cut the Bulldogs’ lead to eight points with 3:02 remaining. However, the Bulldogs sank some free throws and built the lead back to 11 during the next two minutes.
“We did a great job of getting the ball inside early,” Toot said. “Then we kind of panicked when we got the lead. We didn’t play with a lot of poise toward the end and kind of let them back in it. We showed some toughness at the end and hung on to win.”
Tuesday’s win was the second straight for the Bulldogs, who last lost Jan. 26 at Osawatomie. They traveled to De Soto Friday and left with a 49-46 victory over a Wildcat team that beat them 51-41 in Baldwin City on Dec. 15.
“It feels good to get a couple of wins in a row,” Vander Tuig said. “On Friday night, we came out and competed our hardest against a De Soto team that had previously beaten us this season. We gave a good effort the whole game and came out with a close victory at their place. That was nice. Then tonight it was nice to start off this week with a win at home.”
Baldwin trailed De Soto by 10 late in the second quarter, but rallied with a 6-0 run to close the lead to four at halftime. BHS took the lead in the second half, but battled the Wildcats during the final quarter. Toot was proud of his team’s toughness Friday.
“We had a great win Friday,” Toot said. “That was probably the most toughness I’ve seen from a team for 32 minutes in the three-and-a-half years I’ve been here. At the end of the game, we had some things not go our way. We just had some bad breaks that kept them close, but we continued to tough it out. That win was superb.”
Baldwin will need more toughness as it travels to Gardner-Edgerton Friday night. The game will start at 7:30 p.m. BHS will play at Eudora Monday and host Saint James on Tuesday.