Baldwin girls earn improbable overtime victory against Wildcats
In the Frontier League girls contest between the De Soto Wildcats and Baldwin, it was the Bulldogs who had the most lives.
Baldwin erased a 12-point second quarter deficit to down the Wildcats, 39-36, in De Soto.
It appeared De Soto might win the game it led most or regulation when Baldwin junior Kailyn Smith missed the front end of a one-and-one with less than 10 second to play in overtime. A Wildcat guard raced down court for an apparent layup, but Baldwin sophomore Katie Jones hustled back and blocked the shot from behind. The ball ended in the hands of Smith, who calmly made two free throws, icing the game.
Early, it didn’t appear as if the game would be close. De Soto ended the first quarter with a 15-7 lead, helped in part by sloppy Bulldog ball handling that led to four points in the period’s final minute.
De Soto built the lead to 21-9 with 3 minutes to play in the half, as the taller Wildcats worked the ball inside for easy points and Baldwin settled for outside shots that weren’t dropping.
The game quickly changed when Smith sandwiched two 3-pointers around a 2-pint play to score eight in just more than a minute, cutting the De Soto lead to 21-17. Although De Soto was able to answer with a 3-pointer before the end of the half, Baldwin was back in the game for good, 24-17.
“I was excited when the first went down,” Smith said. “I just got a hot hand.”
Baldwin coach Bob Martin said the springboard Smith provided gave the team the encouragement it needed going into halftime.
“I told the girls at halftime if the stayed patient on offense and worked on defense, we would be OK,” he said. “We did a good job defensively in the second half.”
Baldwin cut the lead to 24-22 with a pull-up jumper from Jones with 15 seconds into the third quarter and a 3-pointer from junior Kaitlin Jorgensen with 6 minutes period. But the Bulldogs could not catch the home team and the fourth quarter started with De Soto leading 29-26.
Baldwin finally knotted the score when junior Kelsey Dighans found an open Callie Enick for an easy basket with less than 3 minutes in regulation. A minute later, Jorgensen had time to line up a 3-pointer off the offense, giving Baldwin its first lead, 35-32.
De Soto quickly answered with a 3-pointer of its own with 1:18 left in regulation. Baldwin escaped one last chance for the De Soto to win the game in regulation when two Wildcat free throws spun out of the rim with 4 seconds remaining.
Neither team was able to score in the tense 4 minute overtime until Jones made two free throws after a drive to the basket with 26.7 seconds remaining. A subsequent De Soto free throw set up Jones’ dramatic block and Smith final two free throws.
“I was a nervous wreck going to the line,” Smith said. “But free-throw shooting is muscle memory so I took a deep breath and hit them.”
The victory improved Baldwin’s record to 8-6. The team next will play at 6 p.m. Friday at home against Paola.