The Baldwin High School boys basketball team separated itself further from the Region 4-4A pack Wednesday.
Playing on their home floor, the Braves blew out the visiting Westside Seminoles of Macon 70-45 to get to 8-0 overall and 6-0 against region competition.
Westside came in as the second-place team in the region and has one of the most talented players in the state in University of Florida signee Kowacie Reeves Jr. Baldwin had more scoring threats, however, as four Braves finished in double figures while Reeves was joined by just one teammate who had 10 or more points.
“I thought the team did great,” second-year Baldwin boys head coach Anthony Webb said. “We’re finding our rhythm. This is one of the tougher teams in our region, so to win like we did was good. I keep telling my guys we haven’t played our best basketball yet. We left about eight points on the floor right before the half, but we did a much better job converting in the second half. We turned them over a whole lot, and of course, we didn’t let Kowacie go off.”
Reeves had a quiet 15 points on the night minus a one-handed dunk midway through the fourth quarter.
“We’re going to double him every time,” Webb said. “I don’t care where he is, we’re going to double him and force him to play on both ends of the floor.”
Baldwin leaped out to a 20-9 lead in the first quarter, capped off by a nice dish inside from sixth man Shatavious Hogan to senior Will Freeman. Those players were part of the quartet that did a majority of the damage for the Braves Wednesday.
Down 36-19 at halftime, any hopes the ‘Noles had of getting back into the ballgame in the second half were dashed from the very first possession of the third quarter. They turned the basketball over, giving BHS two easy points in transition and a continued hold on momentum.
The sophomore Hogan had a double-double in the region victory, totaling 11 points and 11 rebounds. His classmate Jacobi Nixon led the Braves in scoring with 14 points while grabbing seven rebounds. Senior Jermyus Simmons had 13 points on 50 percent shooting and Freeman finished with 11 in the winning effort.
Coach Webb has a fast, very athletic team that is fun to watch. The Braves move the ball well and get up and down the floor in a hurry. They have shown they can beat teams in transition as well as in the halfcourt offense, and really get after it on defense. All of that has added up to a perfect record entering play Friday.
“The guys don’t even talk about it, which is a good thing,” Webb said of his team’s undefeated record. “If they do, it’s not around me. They can talk about it all they want as long as they get out here and continue to perform.”
The Braves have yet to make one full circuit of their region competition this season, having not played either Perry or Spalding. That’s scheduled to change Saturday when the Spalding Jaguars come to town, and games against Perry are currently set for Feb. 1 and Feb. 8. There will be no Region 4-4A tournament this season to cut down teams’ exposure to COVID-19 ahead of the state playoffs. Seeding for state will be determined by region records, and the Braves have a good shot at the top seed.