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Baldwin hoopsters win twice versus local rival Thomas Jefferson

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Baldwin's varsity basketball teams swept a two-game series with Thomas Jefferson in nonsection action last week.

The Baldwin boys defeated the host Jaguars, 62-50, while the Baldwin girls defeated the visiting Lady Jaguars, 60-43.

“I thought our defense was pretty solid for most of the game,” Joe Urmann, Baldwin's head coach, said. “We shot the ball well which always helps, but we made strides in taking care of the ball versus pressure as well.”

The Highlanders held a 30-28 halftime advantage, then outscored the home team by an 18-8 margin in the third quarter.

“Baldwin out-executed us, outhustled us, and played with a lot of fire,” Dom DeCicco, Thomas Jefferson's head coach, said. “They deserved to win; they're very well-coached.”

Four players attained double figures for Baldwin, led by 6-foot-2 senior guard/forward Jake Michael's game-high 19 points.

Michaels was complemented offensively by 6-6 junior forward Arnes Bajgora's 17 points, senior guard A.J. Greco's 12 and junior guard/forward Shane Perko's 11.

Thomas Jefferson was led by 6-2 senior guard/forward Joe Carroll's 18 points.

“TJ is a good team and they have had a great first half of the year,” Urmann said. “They were coming off a big, emotional win versus West Mifflin, which may have affected them a bit, but I look for them to make a nice run come playoff time.”

Baldwin's girls' team hit four treys in the first quarter, grabbed a 16-10 lead, then built up a 39-20 halftime advantage.

A 14-2 run in the second stanza, capped by a 3-pointer by 5-9 sophomore guard Amanda Larkin, gave the home team a commanding 32-14 lead prior to halftime.

The Baldwin backcourt of juniors Mandi Johnston (12 points), Nikki Corcoran (9) and Larkin (9), along with junior forwards Taylor Duchon and Taylor Letender, propelled the Lady Highlanders.

Trailing 47-25 midway through the third quarter, Thomas Jefferson outscored Baldwin by a 14-1 margin to close the gap to 48-39 at the 5:39 mark of the fourth frame.

But the Lady Highlanders iced the decision with a 10-0 run in a two-minute span down the game's home stretch.

Johnston, a 5-4 junior guard, finished with a game-high 20 points, while Corcoran ended up with 17. Larkin, Duchon, Letender and junior guard Vicki Johnston rounded out the Baldwin scoring.

For the vistors, 5-7 junior guard Alexis Yanief netted a team-high 16 points before fouling out late in the game.

Yanief was complemented by senior forward Jesse Hinkle's 14 points. Senior guard/forward Alex Hasis added seven.

Courtney Zoglmann, a sophomore guard/forward, and Haley Kutscher, a junior guard, rounded out the TJ scoring.

Mandi Johnston, Larkin and Hasis each connected twice from 3-point territory.

Greco, Michaels propel Highlanders

The Baldwin boys' team opened the second half of section play with a convincing 63-45 win at home against Moon.

The Highlanders reversed the results from their Section 4-AAAA opener, a 63-48 loss at Moon, and chalked up their third win in four games.

“I think we're making progress in certain phases of the game,” Urmann said. “I credit the players for their fight and willingness to compete despite a disappointing start to section play.”

Greco led Baldwin offensively with a game-high 25 points, including a 21-point outburst in the second half.

Michaels scored 10 points after the intermission to end up with a 17-point total, while Bajgora added 10 points to the Highlanders' cause.

Greco gunned in three treys — all in the second half when Baldwin outscored the visitors by a 42-33 margin — while senior guard Stefan Ayers had one triple.

Following an eight-game losing streak, Baldwin defeated the likes of Peters Township, TJ and Moon over the past two weeks, while losing at Bethel Park. The Highlanders were slated to visit Canon-McMillan earlier this week.

“Everyone seems to have stepped up their game in some way, not only on game days but also in practice. We're having some of our better practices lately,” Urmann said. “Our seniors have really bought in and taken the lead. They hold player meetings and seem to have developed a sense of ownership over the team.

“It's great because I think that's the way it should be; I've told them it is their team.”

Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5805 or rfisher@tribweb.com.

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