By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
Baldwyn coach Jason McKay was part of Baldwyn’s back-to-back state basketball championships in 1986-87. Those gold balls had collected a lot of dust in the back of the trophy case.
McKay’s Bearcats brought a new gold ball home in March to showcase in front of that trophy case, winning the Class 2A state title. McKay is the Daily Journal’s 2012-13 Coach of the Year.
“That really did not come into my mind too much until a day or two before the state championship,” McKay said. “I certainly don’t feel it was something hanging over our community or school.
“But I think naturally if you had gone down there and lost a third one, that would have given people an opportunity to take shots at the program.”
Biggersville coach Cliff Little, whose team won the Class 1A championship, was also considered for this honor.
Baldwyn was making its third finals trip in four seasons – and this one was the second straight trip that saw the Bearcats missing a major contributor. Last season, starter Reggie Patterson missed the season after ACL surgery. Eight games into this season, the Bearcats lost fourth-year starting point guard Dee Gates to the same injury.
Gates, who accounted for nearly half of Baldwyn’s offense, would have likely been a player of the year candidate.
There were changes, namely who other than Gates would bring the ball down the floor for the first time in four years. Players rose, Mason Penson and Conner McKay did most of the ball-handling. Jason McKay said defense led the way, though.
“When Mason Penson and Tevin Lindsey and all our guys played defense, which was 90 percent of most nights, we would take anybody out of what they were doing,” Jason McKay said.
“I’ve never had a team that could put as much pressure and keep the basketball in front. We could make a team look real bad.”
McKay credits Baldwyn’s success to a “college-style” support unit and to a group of coaches he equally considers head coaches.
Patterson is now on the staff, along with Lance Wesson and assistant coach Raymond Craven. McKay says his sister, Susanne Trollinger, does as much behind the scenes as he does up front.
“I don’t want to accept this unless we do it as a coaching staff. I don’t have to deal with a lot of things other coaches have to,” McKay said. “I’m good at filling out bus permits. I’m good at that.”