By Brandon Speck
BALDWYN – By Monday afternoon, defending Class 2A champ Baldwyn didn’t know a lot about its state semifinal opponent, Heidelberg (22-7).
“They shoot a lot of 3s,” said sophomore point guard Conner McKay. “It’s going to create long rebounds. We’ve got to block out and get back in defensive transition.”
It was about to get a lot more specific. Film was on the way and Baldwyn coach Jason McKay and his staff are known to pick tape apart.
Way ahead of time.
McKay flips through a thick notebook as he talks. He goes to the first page, a page laying out the first day of practice this season. It wasn’t a scheme against Hamilton, the Bearcats’ first opponent. It was a plan against New Site, a division opponent he was correctly convinced would be a roadblock on the road back to Jackson.
“Right there it is,” he said. “We knew that was a team if we did not defend their strength, which was running offense in a very methodical way, we were in trouble. You guys remember that?”
“Yes, sir,” said Conner and junior teammate Romaro Crump.
“I think you’ve got do that,” Jason McKay said. “These teams can stop you from winning the last game of the year. You’ve got to identify those teams and their strengths, even in the offseason.”
By Friday’s 2:30 p.m. tip at Mississippi Coliseum, Crump will be a three-time starter in the state tournament. Baldwyn (30-3) is making its fourth appearance in five seasons, all to the championship game, a title last season for the first time in 26 years
Film or not, Crump says the core plan remains the same.
“Basically just keep doing what we’re doing,” Crump said, “but better.”
Baldwyn was scheduled to leave town this morning after a raucous sendoff at the high school.
The Bearcats are trying for back-to-back championships, like McKay’s team did during his 1986-87 playing days.
“We’re going to talk about it a lot,” Jason McKay said. “Are we happy where we’re at, because if we are, we’re as far as we’re going to go. There’s one thing of being in the state tournament and another thing of winning it.”
• Who: Baldwyn Bearcats (30-3) vs. Heidelberg (22-7)
• What: MHSAA boys 2A state tournament semifinals
• When: 2:30 p.m. Friday
• Where: Mississippi Coliseum, Jackson
Baldwyn: G Duke Upshaw (18 PPG), PG Conner McKay (15.5), F Romaro Crump (14 ppg)
Heidelberg: F Darius Taylor (16 ppg),Frankie Collins (11 ppg) Demonte Morgan (11 ppg)
NEXT: Winner plays Calhoun City or S.V. Marshall for state championship.