PLAYOFF TIME IN MILLEDGEVILLE: Braves move on to Sweet 16 matchup tonight with Marist
The Baldwin High School boys basketball team commenced their GHSA 4-AAAA state playoff campaign Wednesday when they hosted and defeated Shaw High School from Columbus 69-54 to the delight of the James A. Lunsford Gymnasium crowd. With their first-round win, the Braves improved to an incredible 22-3 record on the season.
The defending champs received contributions from many different players throughout the contest as they dissected the Raiders defense with their depth and talent. Head coach Anthony Webb credited his team’s variety of offensive options for their overall success.
“That is why we have been successful throughout the season,” Webb said. “It makes it hard for teams to focus on one player when you have several that can score in double figures each game.”
Now, the Braves will continue their quest for a second consecutive state championship as they host the Marist War Eagles tonight (Friday) at 8:30 p.m. Marist is 19-9 on the season, and the team boasts a similarly deep roster with several players who average solid scoring numbers. Incredibly enough, not one Marist player has averaged double-digit points this spring, which is a surprising statistic for a team that has put together a 10-3 record in Region 6-AAAA play. However, three different War Eagles average over nine points per contest.
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Against Shaw, four different Braves tallied double-digit scoring totals in the opening-round matchup. BHS junior Shatavious Hogan led the way with a monstrous performance, posting 20 points and 21 rebounds. The 6-foot-5 big man dominated in the paint as he has all season long, sinking eight fields goals on the night.
“He had a tremendous game for us,” Webb said. “We are going to continue to look for him to be our inside presence on both ends of the floor. He has been playing well for us, and we will need him to continue this type of play if we want to move forward.”
While Hogan gave the visiting Raiders all sorts of problems in the post, the Braves were just as ruthless from beyond the arc. Junior combo guard Christian Burnett nailed four three-pointers in the first half and ended the game with 14 points. Meanwhile, BHS sophomore Quamond Dennis joined in on the three-point bonanza with four threes of his own for a total of 12 points.
BHS veteran Lataeveon Roach also notched double-digit points as he put up 14 with a plethora of and-one plays at the rim. By the end of the game, the senior only trailed the red-hot Hogan in total free-throw attempts.
With their dynamic ability to score inside and outside, the Braves are one of the toughest teams to guard in the state. Webb praised the offensive versatility of his players as a key component of Baldwin’s victory.
“The key to victory was our ability to wear them down with our depth and our ability to score both inside and outside consistently,” Webb said.
Now, it's all eyes on Marist.
“We have to improve on our team rebounding, overall team defense, and being more patient on offense,” Webb said. “We definitely have to improve in these areas if we want to beat Marist and advance to the next round.