Baldwin tames Broncos
In what is now a familiar script, the Baldwin Bulldogs boys basketball team pulled away from visiting Spring Hill in the second half, earning a 72-53 Frontier League victory.
After leading 29-26 at halftime, the Bulldogs steamrolled the Broncos in the second half, putting up 43 points while maintaining its defensive pace.
It was very similar to the Bulldogs victory of a week earlier against Louisburg and a game plan coach Dustin Leochner was happy to see repeated.
“It was the same recipe,” he said. “We try to wear down teams. In the fourth quarter, we were able to rebound the ball and get out in transition.”
Sophomore guards Chad Berg and Cornell Brown flourished in the final quarter as they scored layups off fast breaks and the offense. The fourth-quarter push was aided by the Bulldogs effectiveness at the free throw line. Cornell Brown was 4 for 4, Berg 4 for 5 and senior Tucker Brown 2 for 2 from the line in the final period.
Berg recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists, Leochner said.
If that script looked familiar, the scoring muscle the Bulldogs flexed inside was something new. Sophomore Michael Burton scored a career-high 18 points to lead the Bulldogs in scoring.
Burton first flashed his hot hand in the second quarter when he scored six straight points for the Bulldogs. Four of those came within a minute when he scored twice on the same post move inside.
Leochner was equally pleased with Burton’s eight rebounds, one less than senior forward Dayton Valentine’s nine boards. The gritty rebounding and inside scoring they and junior Caleb Gaylord provided make the Bulldogs a more well-rounded team, the coach said.
“When our bigs come to play, we are a tough team,” Leochner said. “I told the guys our guards are always going to play well, so if we do get our inside game going we are a very difficult team to beat.’
Hot outside shooting kept the Broncos in the game in the first half. The visitors hit six 3-points, including one on its last possession of the half.
Leochner said coaches made an adjustment at half time, having guards stay on Spring Hill shooters Matt Smith and Derek Bybee instead helping double in the post. The change worked as the Bulldogs held Spring Hill to just two 3-pointers in the second half.
The Bulldogs will see the Broncos again soon. In sub-state pairings released Wednesday, Baldwin will play Spring Hill at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Baldwin. Should Baldwin win, it will play the winner of the Ottawa/Santa Fe Trial game at an as yet undetermined time Friday. The sub-state is at Baldwin.
Ottawa and D-1 prospect Semi Ojeleye were too much for the Bulldogs on Friday in Ottawa. Ojeleye scored 31 points in the Cyclones’ 63-47 victory.
Baldwin will finish out the regular season Thursday at home against De Soto. Bulldog seniors Britton Schroeder, Alex Twombly, Tucker Brown and Valentine will be recognized during senior night. The game is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.