MILLEDGEVILLE — Region 2-AAAA basketball is arguably some of the best in the state, and Baldwin High is being tested on the court every week, the most recent challenge coming against Perry Tuesday night on the road.
Rebounding from their early-season struggles, the boys pulled off their first win of the season with a 63-58 victory over the Panthers.
“That was huge,” BHS boy’s head coach Rechard Larkin said. “I’m relieved. It really was a huge confidence builder. Our guys played well and played hard against a very good Perry team.”
Consistency hurt the Braves early on in November, but Larkin witnessed a change in attitude leading into this week’s matchup.
“On practice on Monday, guys really got after it with that desire,” Larkin said. “One thing that was huge is we put things on the shelf so that they could reach it, and told them that they dictate how the story ends. I think it kind of refocused them to see the goals we have are still attainable and before us.”
Larkin credits his coaching staff for helping the team get on the right track with their win over Perry on Tuesday, as he believes it has been a complete team effort by everyone.
The relieved head coach summed up his thoughts by quoting John Maxwell, saying, “One is too small of a number to achieve anything great.”
A team effort it was; though Marquise Williams continued to raise his level of play scoring 27 points for the Braves with 13 rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal against the Panthers.
“He was huge last night, and I could tell at practice on Monday, I was happy to see him be successful as an individual and Baldwin as a team,” Larkin said. “We’ve got several compliments from other coaches from around the league on his play, so we just hope it’s something we can continue.”
Other Braves that stuck out on Tuesday were LaJavion Adams, the second leading scorer with nine points, three assists and two steals, as well as Stetson Richardson contributing a much-needed defensive effort for the team with five steals.
“Last night, I think was the first time that we played together well as a team,” Larkin said, “and I’m very pleased with Stetson.”
Coming away with their first win of the season, Larkin is pleased with the direction the team appears to be headed.
“Ultimately, to hang on and win in a close game, and to do so on the road is a huge confidence builder and something we needed at the time,” he said. “I’m really proud of the guys on how they responded and came back. I applaud them for having enough resilience and trust in their team to come out and play in a manner of which they did.”
Despite coming in with a perfect 2-0 region record, the Bravettes came out on the other end of a close game with Perry on Tuesday night.
The girls led much of the ball game, but came up short in a 50-48 loss.
“We got off to a pretty good start,” BHS girl’s head coach Randall Owens said. “This is still a pretty young team, so we’ve got to put teams away when we’re up like that, and we just didn’t do that [Tuesday] night.
“The game at Perry was a close game throughout. They are much improved from last season, so we knew they weren’t going to lie down and let us do what we wanted to do. They just made two more plays down the stretch than we did, thus giving them the two-point victory.”
Shemirika Manson led the team in scoring with a season-high 23 points and 10 rebounds; however, Owens believes many of the Bravettes contributed to the squad’s performance against the Lady Panthers.
“Courtney Butts, a freshman, started at the point guard position, hit a couple three-pointers and did a good job of leading the team and had about five assists,” he said. “Also, Quantasha Cannie did a great job of shutting down Perry’s primary shooting threat, holding her below her average.”
For the BHS girls, injuries have plagued the team early this season, but Owens is confident that the Bravettes are still in a good place for this point in the year.
“We’re still hit with the injury bug right now, so we’re playing several players playing different positions and playing more minutes,” he said. “Going into the season our strength was our depth, but having so many injuries, we haven’t been able to utilize it as much as we’d like.
“Despite all of the injuries, we were still very close in the last two ball games, playing very well. Overall, we would have liked to have had a couple more victories, but the players are playing hard and that’s all we can ask of them at this point.”