Trib Cup: Baldwin girls basketball team stands by motto
Energy. Effort. Focus.
While they're just three words, they mean so much more to the Baldwin girls basketball team.
They have been the Fighting Highlanders' motto all season, scrolled on the team's locker room dry erase board throughout the season.
They're not easily forgotten.
“We've talked about playing with energy, effort and focus since Day 1,” Baldwin coach Gavin Prosser said. “We've been talking about it all summer, we've been talking about it since November.”
“It's everywhere we look,” senior Amanda Larkin added. “It's in our locker room, so we'll look at the board before we go down to practice. Before practice starts coach (Prosser) will remind us we're here to have energy, effort and focus.”
It's that motto and how the players carry it out that has sparked the Fighting Highlanders (12-7, 8-3) to a second-place standing in WPIAL Section 4-AAAA.
Their play is a major reason Baldwin is in 10th place in the Class AAAA Trib Total Media/WPXI High School Sports Award standings.
With just two seniors on their roster, there were doubts about how the Highlanders would follow up on their string of six consecutive playoff appearances. But those doubts have most certainly been answered.
“I don't think many people around the WPIAL thought we would be any good this year and, to be honest, I really didn't know what to expect either,” Prosser said. “I knew that we had the talent to be good enough, I just didn't know how that would translate into games that really matter.”
The emergence of sophomores Amanda Wood and Lauren Gilbert, along with juniors Alexandra Barr and Carly Lutz, has been key for Baldwin's success. But it's been Gilbert's 17 points per game from the point guard position that have really spurred the Highlanders.
“She's our leader on the floor even though she's only a sophomore,” Prosser said. “Everybody looks to her. They know what kind of talent she has.”
As one of the team's elder statesmen, Larkin (14.2 ppg) has taken the team's young stars under her wing this season.
“I think a lot of my teammates look up to me because I have played at the varsity level for four years, and I have a lot of experience in situations that a lot of them haven't experienced,” Larkin said.
Baldwin has used its emphasis on focus — something Prosser admitted the players may have lost track of around the holiday tournament schedule — to win four games in a row, including a key 57-34 home win over section rival Mt. Lebanon.
“We talk about protecting our home court, which is really important in the section. … If you can take care of your home court and hope to steal a few on the road, then you're almost guaranteeing yourself at least a playoff position,” he said.
With just two section games remaining, the Highlanders have their sights set on a section title. If they can earn wins over Moon and Bethel Park, they can earn at least a share of the title with the Black Hawks.
“It's been our goal all year to win the section,” Prosser said. “It's been our goal every year to win the section. It hasn't happened yet, but this the closest that we've been.”
Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.