Baldwin girls hold on for win
A terrific third quarter gave the Baldwin girls enough Tuesday cushion to overcome jitters at the free throw line in the final minutes in a 42-35 victory against visiting Spring Hill.
The Bulldogs entered the fourth quarter seemingly home free after outscoring the visiting Broncos 19 to 5 in the third period. Baldwin’s point total in the quarter surpassed what the team put on the scoreboard in the first half.
Coach Bob Martin said he challenged his team in the locker room after what he viewed as a lackadaisical first half performance. The Bulldogs went into the break trailing, 17-16.
“We talked a little bit about intensity,” he said. “I didn’t feel we played that well in the first half.”
“We got some shots to fall,” he said of the third quarter. “Katie (Jones) hit a couple of 3s that were big for us.”
Junior center Katie Kehl said Martin’s message was the same he preached on the sideline — be patient on offense and get the ball inside.
With Jones hitting from the outside in the third and Kehl, whose minutes were limited with foul trouble in the first half, suddenly effective inside, the Bulldogs quickly reversed the one-point half-time deficit, building a 35-18 lead with 1:22 to play in the third quarter. A solid defensive effort helped as Baldwin held Spring Hill to just one point the first seven minutes of the half.
But that good work as almost for naught as Broncos scored eight-straight points in the last minute of the third quarter and the first minute of the fourth, cutting the lead to 35-26.
Baldwin’s careless ball handling against the Spring Hill press would tighten the game even more. Two free throws by Spring Hill senior Ericka Simpson cut the margin to 37-32 with 3:12 remaining in the game.
“I didn’t think we had enough,” Martin said. “I think we played a little tight in the fourth quarter. We didn’t hit our free throws.”
The Bulldogs went 6 of 17 from the line in the final period and only 3 of 11 after Jones make two free throws with 2:35 to go. Twice in the last minute, Bulldogs went to the line for two shots with the Broncos over the 10-foul limit and failed to convert for points.
Still, Baldwin did enough to win, giving up only three points in the final three minutes. Kehl, who once again battled a taller opposing front line, cleared three defensive rebounds down the stretch.
“I just watch the ball,” she said of her rebounding success. “That’s all there is to it. I just watch the ball.”
The victory ended a two-game losing streak for the Bulldogs, the latest of which was a loss Friday at Ottawa. In that game, the Bulldogs never got on track offensively in the contest they lost, 40-19.
It was the first full game the girls were without starting point guard Kailyn Smith. The sophomore suffered a concussion in the third quarter of the Bulldogs Feb. 14 victory against Louisburg. She sat out Tuesday’s game as well.
Martin said Smith would practice Wednesday. Her status for Thursday home game against De Soto will be decided by how she responds to practice, he said.
Thursday’s game will start at 6 p.m.
The Bulldogs will get to see plenty of De Soto in the coming week. In sub-state pairings released Monday, Baldwin will play at 7 p.m. Monday at De Soto. Should the Bulldogs win, they will play the winner of the Ottawa/Eudora game at a time to be announced March 1. The sub-state is in Baldwin.