Before it captured the Class 4A-DII state championship in a gritty, 58-57 win over Andale on Saturday, Baldwin never forgot how last season ended.
Baldwin lost to Bishop Miege, 59-42, in the 2017 Class 4A-DI sub-state championship, and in the year that followed, that loss to Bishop Miege only brought the team closer.
“We’ve been working our hardest, and we put our heart into every single practice,” said Baldwin junior Carly Lindenmeyer. “Since then, through the summer, through weights, through every single practice.”
Lindenmeyer said she saw her team become a close-knit group.
“I think what’s most significant about our team is that we’re a family, and there’s not a single girl on the team that we don’t love,” she said. “We cherish every single moment we have together.”
The Bulldogs went 24-1 this season and defeated Burlington in the sub-state championship to earn the top seed in the state tournament.
With the help of senior Abby Ogle’s hot play, Baldwin won its next three games in the state tournament to win its first title since 1996.
Lindenmeyer said Ogle is the heart of the team and “our inspiration.”
“She keeps us calm,” Lindenmeyer said. “When Abby’s on the floor, we know everything’s going to be fine. If we’re down by one (point), it doesn’t matter. If she’s on the floor, we’re going to be fine.”
Abby’s sister, Baldwin junior Kate Ogle, said she couldn’t have been more impressed with her sister’s performance in the state championship, where the older Ogle scored a game-high 22 points, despite leaving the floor twice in the fourth quarter.
Abby scored 16 of Baldwin’s 28 second-half points to help secure the championship.
“Abby played outstanding, just like she usually does,” said Kate, who Abby’s played basketball with since she was 4. “She took it home tonight, played hard, played with heart. She wanted it more than anyone.”
Kate said the thing she’ll miss the most about this year’s team is its depth.
“We go so deep on the bench,” she said. “And we just all play with heart.”
Abby added that the team’s mantra heading into the season was to “always play with heart.”
She said she thinks that’s what helped her team win the championship game.
“We knew we always had the potential to do it,” Ogle said. “We just had to go out there and get it. Like we kept saying, ‘It’s all heart in the end.’ It all comes down to heart. It doesn’t matter how tired you are, if you just have the heart, you can win it all.”
Now that Baldwin can celebrate its state championship, Lindenmeyer said she’ll never forget what inspired the Bulldogs to come back stronger this season.
“The nerves that we have right now, they’re still not gone. We all still have them,” Lindenmeyer said. “It’s just a crazy emotion we have. We’ve been working our hardest since (that loss).”