Baldwin basketball coach reflects on 2014-2015 season

BALDWIN — If Baldwin coach Kevin Dillard and his boys basketball players had their way, they’d be going to Michigan State’s Breslin Center this week for the state finals.

Instead, Fulton, which defeated Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart for the regional title, is making that trip.

Sacred Heart beat Baldwin 59-49 last week in the regional semifinals at Crossroads.

Baldwin’s season ended at 19-5 with West Michigan D League and Class D district titles to show for it. But for the third straight season, they lost in the regional semifinals.

“I don’t think we had a chance to really show what we’re capable of,” Dillard said. We were still working on playing better basketball. “We didn’t get a chance to show a lot of things. We had a key player ejected at the district game.”

He was referring to one of the team’s top players, Migel Mahan, who was ineligible for the game against Sacred Heart.

Jacob Burton, another senior, was injured early in the season and couldn’t play the rest of the year.

“He was a big part of the rotation last year,” Dillard said.

Other seniors, besides Burton, Childress and Mahan, who are graduating are Clay Bowen, Issac Delgado, Maverick Fisher and Damon Nichols.

Top players returning include Brenton and Braeden Childress, Da’Ron Copeland and Deandre McDonald. The junior varsity team also had a strong season for Baldwin.

“We should be OK for next year,” Dillard said.

Dillard took over the team the first week of practices in late November following the sudden and unexpected resignation of Josh Kutchinski. That transition, Dillard acknowledged, made it another huge challenge for the Panthers, who lost early season games to nonleague powers like Grand Rapids North Pointe and Muskegon Heights.

Key moments were three wins over Brethren, including in the district title game and avenging an early-season loss to Onekama. There also was a nonleague win over Class B power Paw Paw.