Baldwin boys basketball coach reflects on successful season

JJ Eads has been Baldwin's basketball coach the past two seasons. (Star file photo)

JJ Eads has been Baldwin's basketball coach the past two seasons. (Star file photo)

BALDIWN -- JJ Eads' second season as Baldwin's boys basketball coach was a fun one

Because of COVID restrictions, the season started late. But Baldwin, once the season started, was able to earn a share of the West Michigan D League title.

Baldwin was 13-2 overall and 7-1 in the WMD for first place.

"It was an interesting start to the season with everything going on," Eads said. "I wasn't really sure we would play games but luckily we did and had a successful season. I think we may have exceeded expectations due to us being remote for the first six weeks of the season. We really didn't know who would play and had to get kids eligible to and from practices and games.

"Winning a share of the league title in a very competitive league," was a highlight, Eads said, adding disappointments were "our only league loss being a buzzer beater after rallying back to take the lead (against Brethren) and our district final loss. NMC was ranked for a reason."

The COVID delay "probably hit us more than other teams due to being remote for part of the season," Eads said. "The boys weren't on a regular schedule. Basically every day was a snow day for us and you know coaches don't like those. We had one key player transfer out and a couple others that didn't come out due to Covid related possible issues."

Carmelo Lindsey was the leading scorer.

"The whole league keys their game plan around him," Eads said. "He's very quick and is a good defender as well and led us in steals. Dylan Hibma was a solid and quick post presence on both ends and our leading rebounder.

"Karlito McKinney was the second leading rebounder, very close to Dylan, and made big plays on both ends of the court all season. He was always around the ball. Lavonte Palmer handled the ball a lot for us to free up Carmelo. Lavonte is very unselfish and tried to set up teammates. He had 15 points and 10 assists vs Mesick."

Jesse Pancio, Derek Mock and Leonard McNeeley "really helped us this year as well," Eads said. "Jesse scored the ball in the second half of the year. Derek provided some offense and quickness off the bench, Leonard was our glue guy. He did all the dirty work for us and had some huge steals and some 'and ones' in transition."

Graduates are Palmer, Hibma, Mock and McNeeley.

Returners are Lindsey, McKinney and Pancio.

"We are losing four key players, our JV kids will really need to step up next year," Eads said "We are losing some height so our quickness will need to be our strength. We will also need to get others to score the ball to balance out what we are losing to graduation.

"Seniors will be missed as they came a long ways in the past two years. It was a solid season for us. I am happy the boys were able to play and finish the season."