BHS boys, coach disappointed with 6-15 season
Baldwin High School senior Camdon Schwartz didn’t dream of finishing his final basketball season 6-15, but he’s coming to terms with it one week later.
Schwartz helped the Bulldogs to a 12-9 record a year ago, but had goals of a better season this year. However, the Bulldogs struggled down the stretch in the Frontier League, which was arguably as good as it’s ever been.
In the end, the Bulldogs lost their final seven contests and finished 6-15. Their season ended in the first round of sub-state last week.
“Obviously, we would have liked to get further than we did,” Schwartz said. “That wasn’t how I wanted the season to end. We didn’t play good enough in the season to get a good seed and play an easier team. We always have a pretty tough sub-state anyway.”
Baldwin lost to Sumner Academy in the sub-state tournament. On Saturday, Sumner beat the sub-state host and defending state champs, Basehor-Linwood, to advance to the Class 4A tournament.
“It makes me feel a little bit better, because we didn’t lose to a team that just beat us and lost their next game,” Schwartz said. “In a sense, it’s a bit easier to take the loss, because they ended up going to state.”
Baldwin also played league opponents Gardner-Edgerton and Ottawa, who both won their sub-states. BHS finished league action with a 1-6 record. That was good enough for a tie with Eudora for last place in the league.
“In my four years here, this year was by far our toughest schedule,” coach Eric Toot said. “I tried to explain that to the kids. Everybody looks at wins and losses, which they should because you want to win and compete, but I don’t think our record reflects where we are at compared to other teams in the area.
“A team like Central Heights that we beat easily won 17 games this year,” he said. “Burlington, a team that we were beating late in the game at their place, won 16 or 17 games this year. We’re just in a really tough league and I’m glad about that, because I want us to play the best competition. That’s how we get better. Hopefully, we understand that and take the extra steps to become a better basketball team.”
Schwartz agreed with his coach about the quality of the league teams.
“It was a really good league this year,” he said. “Every team was really good and played consistent. I was amazed at how tough it was this year.”
Despite the tough schedule, the Bulldogs managed to win four of six games from the middle of January and early February. Two of those wins came in the Baldwin Invitational Tournament, as the Bulldogs advanced to the BIT championship for the fourth straight year.
“Coming out of Christmas break, I thought we were really making improvements as a team,” Toot said. “We ran into some bad weather and had some sicknesses. We kind of bounced back from that in the BIT and got on a roll for a little bit. Then it just didn’t work out toward the end.”
However, Baldwin’s last win was Feb. 2 at home against Northern Heights. BHS won the game 50-41.
“Our record was disappointing,” Toot said. “My biggest disappointment was that we weren’t even close in a lot of games. We have to work in this off season to get better, not only as players, but coaches, too.
“Our kids worked very hard,” he said. “I had no problems with our effort and attitude. You worry when you go through a tough stretch at the end like we did that the kids might lose their focus. Considering what we went through, I couldn't have been more proud of our mental attitude.”
The Bulldogs will graduate four seniors from this year’s squad. They are Brandon Kraus, Andrew Trosper, Zach Wright and Schwartz. Although the season just finished last week, Toot is already looking toward the future.
Schwartz and Wright were the only seniors who played significant minutes for the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs had several juniors and sophomores, along with two freshmen, who saw action this season.
Toot hopes the younger players will grow and improve from their time on the varsity court. He said the players need to keep improving during the off season, especially in the weight room.
“We definitely have to get stronger,” Toot said. “To me, that was probably the biggest weakness that I saw with our team. When we went up against physical teams, there were times we struggled against their strength and quickness. That needs to be a focus for our kids and program and I need to help them do that.
“I really believe we can turn it around,” he said. “It won’t be easy. Our league is very tough and next year we will be playing everybody twice. If we want to improve and compete, we have to do it now. We can’t wait until November.”
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