Boys basketball looks to continue strong season in playoffs


Allison Huschak

The boys basketball team rose up and earned a playoff spot.

In late January, the Baldwin boys basketball team was trailing Mars by 15 points at halftime. However, in the final two minutes of the game, Baldwin was able to complete an improbable comeback victory. 

“Winning the game was very impactful for us, as they were the hardest team we had played up to that point and it gave us that confidence into the second round of section play,” senior Christian Forgacs said.

Senior James Wesling agreed.

“In the Mars game, we were down double digits at halftime. We ended up winning by three, which really brought the team together,” Wesling said.

Being able to pull through in that close game gave the team momentum for the rest of the season, and they hope to carry it into the playoffs, Forgacs said. The Highlanders will face Central Catholic in the first round of WPIAL playoffs at 8 p.m. Friday at Gateway High School.

A team-first mental approach also played a big role this season, with everyone pitching in, senior AJ Cherico said. 

“We have had the Wesling brothers scoring big numbers all season, Nate Richards controlling the game, Matt Schenk rebounding, and Joe Carr and Christian Forgacs bringing energy off the bench,” Cherico said. “We got where we are as a team.”

Cherico himself was a major contributor to the team, Wesling said. 

“AJ Cherico made his way to the starting five rebounding well and playing defense,” he said.

The brother duo of James Wesling and his sophomore brother, Nate, played a big part in the season’s success. The Weslings both support and push each other to improve.

“It’s a different game playing with a sibling. It’s a lot more emotional seeing him grow and succeed,” James Wesling said of his younger brother. 

Nate Wesling agreed.

“We always push each other and are super competitive,” he said.

The Highlanders, who finished 12-8 in section, lost several tough games by just a few points. Those losses led to challenges.

“Our practice after the Upper Saint Clair loss was our lowest point in the season. We ran three miles,” Schenk said. 

But the Highlanders rose up and earned a playoff spot. For the senior players, such as Cherico, making the playoffs is a particularly special experience. 

“It is really rewarding. I have been playing basketball year-round since I was in middle school, and it really feels like everything I have practiced for comes down to the rest of the season,” Cherico said. 

The key, the players said, is to consider qualifying for playoffs to be an annual expectation.

“It should be expected every year and should not be a big thing. It’s the most important part of the season and we should be playing our best basketball as a team,” Nate Wesling said.

Cherico agreed.

“As a team, this was our goal and an expectation, so we feel we really earned it,” he said.