By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
BALDWYN – A deep bench is a nice weapon to have, and Baldwyn Bearcats’ coach Jason McKay is not afraid to use his non-starters.
And intense defensive effort in the first half by Baldwyn reserves jump-started a strong third quarter as the Bearcats overcame the Saltillo Tigers 65-31 Tuesday.
“We had a nice second half, ” McKay said. “We had a lot more intensity and effort.”
Saltillo’s intensity to begin the contest was bothersome to Baldwyn (7-1), as the Tigers moved to a 10-4 lead behind baskets by Ahmad Tubbs, Jereard Sadler, and Brady Whitehead. Then about midway through the opening period, McKay sent in a new five.
The Tigers lost a bit of their edge the rest of the half as Baldwyn climbed back, with Madison Thomas hitting a 3-pointer late in the second quarter to give the Bearcats a 23-20 halftime lead.
Then Baldwyn blitzed Saltillo coming out of the locker room.
The third quarter started innocently enough with a Saltillo basket by Whitehead, then a pair of baskets by Reggie Patterson for Baldwyn. Then by the time DeVonta Gates hit a free throw with a second left in the period, Baldwyn was in control 43-22.
Just for good measure, Baldwyn scored the first five points of the fourth period, completing a 25-0 run for a 48-22 lead.
“It’s not about being 7-1 right now, it’s about developing habits and a style of play,” McKay said.
Dee Gates paced the Baldwyn offense with 16 points, while Tubbs managed 11 to lead Saltillo.
(G) Saltillo 48, Baldwyn 32
Just like the boys contest, eventual winner Saltillo made a move in the third quarter that eventually gave the Lady Tigers a comfortable win.
After a slow first quarter, Anna Katherine Letson and Laken Bryson provided key offense in the second period to help the Lady Tigers (7-5) to a 15-12 halftime lead.
Bryson Then scored seven in the third period, with a Carley Bryson scoring six consecutive points also in the quarter. That helped Saltillo edge into control of the contest 35-23 by the end of the period.
“At the half, we talked about how we needed to penetrate more offensively, and turn up our defense,” Saltillo coach Eddie Moreland said. “We got a lot more aggressive attacking the basket in the second half.”
Laken Bryson was tops for Saltillo with 16, and Ayana Ragin led Baldwyn (3-4) with 11.