With the Wooster High girls basketball team facing a difficult four-game stretch, he admitted the Generals’ coaching staff was hoping to come through that “winning three of four games.”
Well. Thanks for the vote of confidence, coach.
In a late Christmas present for Baus and themselves, the Generals delivered on all four counts, extending their winning streak to nine games and vaulting into sole possession of first place in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.
“We knew this was going to be extremely difficult with four games in nine to 10 days and all against good teams,” said Baus following the Generals’ win over Orrville. “Realistically, as a coaching staff we thought if we got three out of four wins it would be a successful outing. Once we won the first three, then we rewrote our goal.
“We’re really pleased to go 4-0. The girls are pleased; the coaches are pleased because the bottom line is we haven’t played our best basketball. We’ve played well at times, but we haven’t done it for four quarters.”
Wooster opened that stretch of games with a one-point road win over West Holmes and followed that up by going back to Holmes County to post a win over Hiland. Then came a closer-than-expected OCC win over Ashland Jan. 5 before Wooster rallied back for a narrow 50-46 conference win over Orrville Jan. 7.
“Three of those four teams are going to be state-ranked at some point, I think,” said Baus.
“Ashland’s improved and playing hard and physical,” said Baus of the 47-37 win after a tight first half. “We missed some shots in the beginning, but we came out in the third quarter and Lauren Walker stepped up and that was the turning point. They had the attitude of ‘refuse to lose’ even though they were tired physically and mentally. They knew they had Orrville in two days, so it was tough to get them focused, plus Ashland played well to boot.
“I felt they kinda played a couple games on adrenaline, especially the Orrville game. They were tired, but got up for it and refused to quit. We got behind and fought back and got the job done. We had outscored them 15-5 and stalled the ball three to four minutes, so it was a pretty effective quarter for us. The seniors stepped up a bit and took the game over.”
Wooster trailed by as much as 10 points in the third quarter before it rallied to close the gap to 41-35. It vaulted on top by taking advantage of five Orrville turnovers to open the final eight minutes of play, taking the lead on a three-pointer by Halle Gallo-Malta to give the Generals a 42-41 edge. Sarah Cairnie capped the 9-0 run on a stick back that made it 44-41.
Lauren Walker protected the lead (46-43) with a pair of free throws, the second her 1,000th point of her career, and Gallo-Malta gave Wooster a five-point advantage, 48-43, with a bucket with less than 30 seconds to play.
For the game, Walker led Wooster with 18 points, while Gallo-Malta popped in a dozen and Brittany Nicholson added nine points.
“Walker and Halle – they did (step up),” said Baus. “Brittany Nicholson had probably her best game with nine points and eight rebounds and Andi Logee directed our match-up zone defense and had four points and probably five to six rebounds. The seniors all kinda stepped up.
“We’re 9-1 now and 7-0 in the conference, and we’ve seen different girls on different nights stepping forward.”
Baus is looking at the second half of the season, especially with a chance to fine-tune what the Generals are doing, especially coming off this past stretch of games.
“In the four-game stretch we finished, we had a game one night and the next night prepared for our next opponent,” said Baus. “One night we prepared and the next had a game … and we repeated that theme. Our practices centered on who we played next and now with a few days here and there, we can go back and zero in fundamentally on the areas that need improving … and improve as a whole team.
“We have a good chance to do that and I think that will benefit the team. We can rest a little bit and zero in on the areas that need tweaked.”
The other thing Baus enjoyed was the atmosphere of the recent games.
“In three of the four games we had huge crowds,” said the second-year coach. “West Holmes was rocking, Hiland is always near a full house and this was the best Wooster crowd I can remember in years. The girls feed off the crowd. They turn the crowd into a positive … and that goes a step or two toward tournaments and close games and the big games we have coming up down the road.”
Wooster hosts Clear Fork Jan. 12 and then travels to Mansfield Senior Jan. 19. Both are OCC games.
Published: January 12, 2012