By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Jason McKay’s family has been directly involved with four of Baldwyn’s eight state championships in boys high school basketball.
McKay, now Baldwyn’s head coach, played guard on the Bearcats’ back-to-back title teams in 1986-87.
His father, Larry, played guard on Baldwyn’s 1964 state championship club, then coached the 1975 Bearcats to a state title.
The younger McKay has an opportunity this season to coach the Bearcats to a Class 2A state championship.
His 29-4 club, seeded No. 1 from the North, plays at 8 p.m. Friday in the state tournament semifinals against South No. 2 seed Loyd Star at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.
“This is beyond my wildest dreams,” McKay said earlier this week. “I grew up loving Baldwyn basketball. There’s just something about it.
“There’s also an expectation level that comes with that rich tradition.”
McKay believes he has the team to meet those “gold ball” expectations.
He’s got a young, talented backcourt in sophomores Reggie Patterson (12.6 ppg) and Ian Burress (10.1 ppg), and freshman Dee Gates (7.5 ppg). McKay believes someone would be hard pressed to find a better trio in the state in any classification.
“These three kids are well-rounded players,” the coach said. “They’re pretty tough. They’ve played since the fifth grade. They’ve got more experience than a lot of seniors.”
McKay constantly has to run them out of the gym when they want to play prior to game days.
“Coach McKay believes in us and he lets us play our game,” Burress said. “We want to do something that Baldwyn hasn’t done in a long time.”
Baldwyn’s inside game packs plenty of punch, too.
Marcell Lucas, a 6-foot-3 senior forward, averages 21 points, 11 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. He owns 16 double-doubles in 33 games. He’s also produced 40-point games against Aberdeen and Wheeler.
“We’ve got good players, but this guys stands a little above,” McKay said. “He has a well-balanced game and understands good work ethic. He’s also a great kid.”
Lucas is definitely a player opponents need to be aware of.
“He’s a force on the defensive end; he changes a lot of shots,” McKay said.
Joining Lucas up front is forward Devin Lindsey, who adds plenty of strength on the boards.
Baldwyn’s leading tackler in football from his linebacker spot, he averages 6.7 rebounds and 8.3 points per game.
“People have trouble guarding Marcell because of our other players,” McKay said. “You can’t leave any one guy on our team open.”
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593 or firstname.lastname@example.org