Top Gun streak remains alive
WELLSVILLE — Winning here has become almost a routine for the Baldwin High School girls’ basketball team, at least as far as the first round of the Top Gun Tournament is concerned.
Every year Wellsville High has hosted the Top Gun, which is in its 20th season, the Bulldogs have won their opening game. Despite a sloppy game filled with turnovers and lots of missed free throws, the Bulldogs prevailed Tuesday against Bonner Springs, 46-34.
“It wasn’t too pretty, but any win is a good win,” said junior Allison Howard, who led the Bulldogs with 11 points. “We actually didn’t talk about that at all coming into this tournament, but it’s good to know.”
While the BHS players might not have known about the streak, their coach certainly thought about it during the game.
“We didn’t even talk about that before the game, but I was very conscious of it,” coach Bob Martin said. “It’s nice to keep that going.”
Baldwin didn’t have Tuesday’s game locked up until late in the fourth quarter. BHS struggled at the free throw line during the first three quarters (10 of 21). However, when it came time to make them late, the Bulldogs were clutch.
A trio of BHS starters sank nine of 12 foul shots during the final 4:01 of the game. Senior Connor Twombly made all four of her free throws to give BHS a 10-point lead with 1:20 remaining.
“We finally hit some free throws down the stretch,” Martin said. “We struggled for most of the night. I think it’s always a sign of how mentally tough you are whether you can hit your free throws or not. But we settled down and made them in the fourth quarter.”
Baldwin may have struggled at the free throw line, but it made and attempted more than its opponent. Bonner Springs made only eight of 25 foul shots.
Those missed free throws allowed Baldwin to jump out to an early lead. BHS led 18-10 near the end of the first half. Then the Braves closed the half with an 8-0 run in 2:23.
Bonner Springs continued with its momentum in the third quarter as it scored the first four points of the second half. The Braves turned a 10-point deficit into a four-point lead during 3:01 of game time.
Baldwin rallied with seven straight points. Senior Taylor Brown ended the streak with a three-pointer after an inbounds play. Following that basket, Baldwin only trailed once early in the fourth quarter.
“We came out fairly strong in the first quarter, but then made a lot of mental mistakes,” Martin said. “We struggled for a while offensively and defensively. They made a nice run on us at halftime and tied the game. We kind of finally pulled ourselves together, played well in the fourth quarter and put the game away.
“That’s one thing we talked about after the Saint James game,” he said about the Bulldogs’ loss on Thursday where they blew a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter. “If we get on top of a team late, we’ve got to be able to put them away. It was a little bit more of a struggle than maybe it should have been.”
Although the contest wasn’t pretty at times, Howard did say the Bulldogs were able to score a lot of points in the paint Tuesday.
“I thought we made a lot of mistakes, but we did a really nice job of feeding the post tonight,” she said. “This was probably our best game at getting the ball inside tonight.”
Baldwin will play its semifinal game against Kansas City Christian at 6:15 tonight in Wellsville.
“Coach Martin talks about how our season is broke into four parts,” Howard said. “There is the early season, Top Gun tournament, league games and the postseason. So, now we are focused on the Top Gun.”