"One of them nights" for the state champs; Baldwin bows out of playoffs
For the Baldwin boys, unfortunately, it was just "one of them nights."
Marist, an Atlanta-area private school with a standard annual tuition north of $20,000, according to some random site called PrivateSchoolReview.com, stole the air out of the ball and stole the air out of the Lunsford Gym crowd on Friday night, bouncing Baldwin 60-40 in the GHSA Class AAAA Sweet 16 here in Milledgeville.
It was a sudden and shocking and unexpected end for the state champs, and the fans seemed to be in disbelief after Marist began going up 15, 20 and 25 points in the second half. The Braves will not repeat this season, and they now bow out until next season with a final record of 22-4. Nevertheless, this is still a glory age in the history of Baldwin High basketball. The Braves this season ran through the whole entire region with a perfect record and then won the region championship, too. Baldwin hasn't lost a region game since 2019. Baldwin was ranked in the top 5 in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution poll for nearly the whole season. 2021-2022 produced plenty of good memories, while last season the Braves went undefeated the entire season and danced to the state championship. It's no solace for Coach Anthony Webb and his players, but technically Baldwin will still be the "state champs" until next weekend's new king is crowned over in Macon.
The War Eagles were physically larger at almost every position, but they also had some kids who could really play. Junior point guard Jesse Gaynes began draining three pointers in the third quarter and then began drawing some oohs from the Baldwin fans with some tricky dribbling and layups. The War Eagles largest lead was 52-27.
Whether or not Marist turns out to be peaking at just the right time or if Baldwin just laid a clunker on Friday night is yet to be determined. The War Eagles are now 21-9 after losing their region championship and eeking out a first-round win over Cedar Shoals in round 1 of the state playoffs.
Junior Shatavious Hogan, who continues to literally grow and is now a legitimate 6-foot-5, led the Braves in scoring and rebounds. Star guard Rudolph Satcher, meanwhile, sat out the first half due to a coach's decision, and he ended up with nine points and wasn't a huge factor in the second half.
The Lunsford Gym crowd was loud and alive during the second half of the girls game, but Marist just seemed to zap all of the energy out to the crowd for the boys game, when fans were basically sitting on their hands or checking their phones.
All the Braves can do now is get back to work in the off-season and try it all again next season.