Salina Scattered among several banners at the Bicentennial Center on Saturday afternoon was the purple poster: "Beware of the Dawgs."
Sabetha didn't heed the warning as the sixth-seeded Bulldogs from Baldwin High bit the Blue Jays for a 44-34 victory to snare the Class 4A state girls basketball crown, the school's first since 1982.
"It still hasn't hit me yet," said Baldwin junior Audrey Millstein, following her 14-point, 16-rebound effort in the championship.
The Bulldogs knocked off third-seeded Santa Fe Trail, No. 2 Larned and No. 4 Sabetha during its three-day run for the title to cap their 22-4 season.
"We've got 12 kids who all contribute," said Ted Zuzzio, who has reached the final game four times in 19 seasons as Bulldog coach. "We have some good players who play good defense and are unselfish and they were rewarded."
Sabetha scored four points in the first minute before Baldwin took control. The Bulldogs scored the final 10 points of the first quarter and never trailed again.
Baldwin led 18-15 at halftime and 31-25 after three quarters. Millstein's turnaround jumper with 5:06 left gave the Bulldogs a 37-27 lead, matching their widest margin.
Sabetha pulled within 38-34 with 1:02 left on Tami Ulrich's lay-in. Then, Baldwin scored the final six points to secure the title.
"I think the key was our man defense," Zuzzio said. "We were going to take our chances with a half-court defense and didn't want to lose our legs.
"I can't take credit with our defense. Our two assistants (Mike Curran and Mike Berg) are in charge of defense."
Sabetha made 13 of 44 field-goal attempts (30 percent). In the first half, the Blue Jays connected on just 5 of 22 shots (23 percent).
Sabetha's Kelly Priest and Regina Rettele, who combined for 32 points in the Blue Jays' 44-42 semifinal win on Friday over Hayden, were limited to 15 points on 6-of-21 shooting from the field.
Priest, a 5-foot-11 junior, had averaged 17 points a game to lead Sabetha.
"We had to shut down their big guys," Millstein said.
BHS junior center Mary Denning dominated inside, blocking five shots and altering many other attempts. She scored 14 points to share scoring honors with Millstein.
For the three tournament games, Denning finished with 47 points to lead all Baldwin players.
"You can't judge a team by how they do in the regular season," Denning said. "It's how you perform at state."
Baldwin junior point guard Ann Martin finished with 10 points.
Sabetha substituted frequently with three of its starters battling the flu. Ulrich scored 10 points and Rettele chipped in nine to lead Sabetha.
The Blue Jays finished with a 23-3 record.
Baldwin will take a nine-game winning streak into next season. The Bulldogs won 12 of their last 13 games. Their last loss was to 6A Emporia on Feb. 13.