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The Purbalite

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The Purbalite

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Boys basketball defeats Lebo, heads to first WPIAL title game in 39 years

The purple flood storms the court as the Highlanders win 54-52.

After the boys basketball team defeated Mount Lebanon Tuesday night to earn a spot in the WPIAL Championship, sleep did not come easy to junior Caden Cherico.

“It was a great feeling. It was really hard to go to bed – all I was thinking about was the game,” Cherico said.

Baldwin had not beaten Lebo in the regular season, but that did not mean anything in this semifinal game, as the Highlanders won 54-52.

The Highlanders will now play in the school’s first WPIAL Championship game since 1985, facing off against Upper St. Clair at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Petersen Events Center on the Pitt campus. Baldwin has never won the boys basketball WPIAL Championship.

The team stepped up and worked together for Tuesday’s win, Cherico said.

“We played as a unit last night, and our defense was on point,” he said.

The turning point of the game came in the fourth quarter, Cherico said. At the end of the third quarter, the Highlanders had been trailing by six points. 

“We came out in the fourth quarter, scored six straight to tie the game, and the whole momentum shifted,” Cherico said.

Knowing we had that many people behind us only fueled us more.”

— Nate Richards

Junior Matthew Schenk agreed.

“If we didn’t come out and do something about the score, then our season would be over,” Schenk said. “We kicked it into a whole different gear and did what we needed to do.”

The fourth quarter was taken over by junior Nate Wesling and senior Nate Richards.

“Richards and I just shifted and changed gears,” Wesling said. “We knew what was at stake and put everything on the line till the final buzzer.”

Wesling said that to win, the team had to want it more.

“We knew coming into the game we had to want it more than Lebo, and we simply played harder than them,” he said.

Baldwin’s defense was one of the team’s keys to victory.

“We locked them down on defense and played more physically as the game got closer to being over,” Wesling said.

Schenk gives credit to the fans for their support. The Baldwin student section vastly outnumbered the Lebo student section.

“The fans are a huge reason for how we played,” Schenk said. “The atmosphere they give us is unbelievable.”

Senior Nate Richards, who had four big free throws at the end to seal the win, said the crowd gave him more energy to make those shots.

“I felt like I couldn’t let them down after missing the two earlier,” he said.

Richards said the fans impacted the game more than the players had anticipated.

“We did not expect truly how many people would be at the game,” he said. “Knowing we had that many people behind us only fueled us more.”

Schenk agreed.

“With how many students we had there, we had no choice but to win,” Schenk said. “We couldn’t let down that many supporters.”

As for Saturday’s WPIAL Championship opponent, Upper St. Clair and Baldwin played twice  in the regular season, splitting the games. 

Richards thinks the team is more than ready for Saturday.

“Both games could have gone either way, so I think we have a great shot at taking it home,” he said. “We can’t get ahead of ourselves and need to stick to the game plan.”

Schenk is prepared to make history.

“The only thing left is bringing home that WPIAL title,” Schenk said.

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About the Contributors
Jacob Staley
Jacob Staley, Sports Editor
Sports Editor Jacob Staley is a fourth-year writer and a senior. He can be found playing or watching basketball or football with his friends, or listening to music.
Nick Burg
Nick Burg, Multimedia Editor
Multimedia Editor Nick Burg is a junior and a first-year staff member. He can be found playing baseball, playing video games, or hanging out with his friends.
Molly Gorman
Molly Gorman, Staff Writer
Molly Gorman is a sophomore and a first-year Staff Writer. She can be found running, listening to music, or hanging out with friends. 
Trevor Brain
Trevor Brain, Staff Writer
Junior Trevor Brain is a first-year Staff Writer. He can be found playing hockey, lacrosse, and golf.
Josephine Wysocki
Josephine Wysocki, Staff Writer
Sophomore Josephine Wysocki is a first year Staff Writer. She can be found reading or listening to music.
Jules Ott
Jules Ott, Staff Writer
Sophomore Jules Ott is a first-year Staff Writer. She can be found competing in track, cross country, and basketball, or hanging out with friends and her dogs. 
Emma Powell
Emma Powell, Staff Writer
Emma Powell is a sophomore and a first year Staff Writer. If she’s not at theater rehearsal, she can be found reading a good book, watching a hockey game, or hanging out with friends.
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