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Baldwin's 'gym rats' expected to make impact in 2014-15

randy jarosz | for the south hills record - Baldwin forward Doug Altavilla is one of four juniors expected back on the boys' basketball team in 2014-15.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>randy jarosz | for the south hills record</em></div>Baldwin forward Doug Altavilla is one of four juniors expected back on the boys' basketball team in 2014-15.
randy jarosz | for the south hills record - Baldwin guard Amanda Larkin
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>randy jarosz | for the south hills record</em></div>Baldwin guard Amanda Larkin

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The Baldwin boys' basketball team suffered through a four-win season in 2013-14.

But with four juniors, plus a strong sophomore class, returning in 2014-15, head coach Joe Urmann is optimistic the Highlanders will display big improvements.

Even though the Highlanders aren't expected to be a “big” team.

“Next year we are going to be a little smaller than in year's past, but I think we will have more guys that can shoot it,” Urmann said. “We have some underclassmen who are basketball players only and who I think will be gym rats this offseason.”

Urmann and his staff will lose six seniors from this year's squad, including the two leading scorers in forward Arnes Bajgora and guard Jon DeGregorio.

Expected back are junior forward Doug Altavilla, a three-year varsity player, and junior guards Sven Zepic, Ethan McClure and Antonio Parente.

There were nine sophomores in the varsity program this season, consisting of guards Alex Richards, Bailey Travers and Anthony Starzynski; swingmen Nick Altavilla, Jaelen Miller, Vince Persichetti and Kevin Tayler; plus forwards Carter Lutz and Jeff Wallander.

Doug Altavilla, Starzynski and Wallander, all listed at 6-foot-1, will be the tallest returning players next season.

“We need to get bigger, stronger and faster, which will be a large part of our offseason plan,” Urmann said.

“Additionally, we need to work to develop some more shooters and true threats from the perimeter.”

Larkin, Gazzam set to lead girls' team

Baldwin's girls' basketball team clinched a WPIAL Class AAAA playoff berth in the final week of the regular season, then fell to Shaler, 48-35, in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.

There were six seniors, two juniors three sophomores and two freshmen on the 2013-14 squad.

The two juniors are 5-9 guard Amanda Larkin and 5-8 forward Natalie Gazzam.

They will provide the team's senior leadership in 2014-15, and will be joined by sophomores Carly Lutz, Alex Barr and Kayla McCormick, along with freshmen Lauren Gilbert and Amanda Wood.

Lutz is a 6-foot forward; Wood is a 5-10 forward. Barr, McCormick and Gilbert are backcourt players.

The Baldwin girls won their final three section games against Canon-McMillan, Mt. Lebanon and Bethel Park to corral fourth place in Section 4-AAAA.

The Lady Highlanders ended up with a 12-9 overall record.

Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or

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