De Soto girls hoops starts strong, falters in second half in loss to Baldwin
BALDWIN — For the first half of the De Soto girls basketball team's 58-39 loss to Baldwin on Friday, it was the Wildcats that looked like they were loaded with experience and the top-ranked team in their classification.
The Wildcats built an 18-point lead in the second quarter with their stingy defense creating easy buckets in transition and fluid ball movement in their half-court sets.
Baldwin trimmed De Soto's lead to 11 by halftime, but the first four minutes of the third quarter were what did the Wildcats in. The Bulldogs blitzed the Wildcats with a 17-0 run to begin the second half, as they forced six turnovers in a three-minute span.
"That's what Baldwin does as good, if not better, than anybody arguably in the state. They just speed you up and they make things uncomfortable and they're physical with you," De Soto coach Ryan Robie said. "In the second half, we got slowed down. They went to their 3-2 zone. We got some good looks, but we just missed them. I feel like if we could have hit one or two of those 3s, it really would have changed the dynamic of the game and got us back running again."
The Wildcats held the Bulldogs scoreless for the final four minutes of the third quarter, but weren't able capitalize on the offensive end. De Soto pulled within one at 36-35 on a Mara Montgomery free throw early in the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs outscored the Wildcats, 22-4, the rest of the way.
"We know Baldwin is a phenomenal team. They're so well-coached," Robie said. "They've got kids that just know how to play the game, so we knew we had to execute. In the first half, this team that showed me what we were capable of for sure."
While the Wildcats struggled with turning it over in the second half, their defensive pressure bothered the Bulldogs in the first. LaMyah Ricks forced two jump balls in the first two minutes to set the tone defensively for De Soto.
"She's our defensive engine and she just makes us go. She makes plays," said Robie of Ricks. "She's just everywhere. There's certain kids you can do it to with Baldwin and there are certain kids you can't, so we had to be selective in who we pressured. I think our kids did a phenomenal job of executing our game plan and I just wish we could have had a better result for them."
The offensive balance was exactly what Robie was looking for in the first half as well. Mackenzie Shupe led the way with eight points, Ellie Bream and Linnea Searls scored seven apiece and Emily Fuhr added six. The offense fizzled in the second half, though, as the Wildcats only netted nine points.
The Wildcats closed the regular season with a record of 12-8, while Baldwin (No. 1 in Class 4A-II) in 19-1 entering the postseason. De Soto will play host to Blue Valley Southwest (8-12) at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the 5A sub-state semifinals. Robie said that the Wildcats will definitely take time to keep polishing what worked well and clean up what went wrong in the loss to Baldwin as they prepare for the Timberwolves.
"It's one of the things that we talk to the kids all of the time about is you've got to learn. We've got to learn from wins and losses," Robie said. "It's more fun to learn from wins for sure, but we know what's ahead of us now and we have two good teams that we're going to have to play — hopefully we get to play two. If we do, then that's where we've got to learn."
The winner of De Soto/BV Southwest will play Mill Valley (16-4) or Turner (5-15) at 6 p.m. Saturday with a trip to the state tournament on the line.
DE SOTO (39)
Mara Montgomery 0-0 1-2 1, Jordan Diehl 0-2 0-0 0, LaMyah Ricks 1-4 2-6 4, Linnea Searls 3-6 3-4 9, Ellie Bream 3-5 3-5 9, Mackenzie Shupe 2-12 3-4 8, Katelynn Ostronic 1-2 0-0 2, Emily Fuhr 2-3 2-6 6. Totals 12-34 14-27 39.
Reilly Stewart 0-4 3-3 3, Carly Lindenmeyer 5-8 6-10 17, Abby Ogle 4-10 5-6 14, Kayla Kurtz 4-6 5-6 13, Kate Ogle 2-3 2-5 6, McKinley Markley 0-0 0-0 0, Rian Gere 1-1 0-0 2, Paige Ellis 0-0 0-2 0, Macey Frost 0-6 3-6 3, Kailee Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Alexia Nelson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-38 24-38 58.
De Soto 14 16 3 6 — 39
Baldwin 8 11 17 22 — 58
3-point goals: De Soto 1-8 (Shupe); Baldwin 2-12 (Abby Ogle, Lindenmeyer). Fouled out: Abby Ogle, Kayla Kurtz, Baldwin; Mackenzie Shupe, De Soto. Turnovers: De Soto 24, Baldwin 14.