"Speed and defense."
If Head Coach Gavin Prosser has been trying to drive something into the brains of his players this preseason, he's certainly getting that done.
When asked to identify what might be the calling card of the 2012-13 Baldwin High School girls varsity basketball team, Prosser mentioned "speed and defense," and that was after two of his players answered the same question with the same three words.
The Baldwin High girls have added a promising 6-foot freshman center—Carly Lutz—to their young roster this season, but the team will mostly have to rely on smaller players, most of whom have less scoring pedigree than three of the squad's leaders from a season ago. And all of three of those ladies have graduated.
Gone from the Highlanders are center Anna Lauterbach and guards Carly Corcoran and Taylor Wentzel and all of their size, experience and talent that helped to give Baldwin three state playoffs appearances in four years.
But Baldwin has faced this type of challenge before, playing the 2011-12 season without all-everything guard Belma Nurkic, who had graduated. The team responded by racking up a 19-8 overall record and going even deeper into the playoffs than it did in the previous season.
But while Lauterbach, Corcoran and Wentzel—all three of whom are now playing intercollegiate sports—had plenty of credentials on their side, the 2012-13 Baldwin girls have exactly zero seniors.
The team seems eager to meet the challenges that 2012-13 will bring, though, as Prosser and two of Baldwin's expected leaders this season—junior guard/forward Taylor Letender and junior guard Amanda Johnston—were preaching the same thing on Monday night during the team's third official practice of the preseason: "speed and defense."
With less size and with less proven scorers, Baldwin will still have to find a way to compete this season with the likes of Bethel Park and Upper St. Clair high schools as part of the very competitive WPIAL AAAA Section 4, which also features perennial power and Highlanders nemesis Mt. Lebanon High School, a team that is 12-1 against Baldwin over the past four seasons, including 5-0 in the playoffs.
Letender and Johnston, two players that Prosser is looking to for big contributions, won't shy away from Mt. Lebanon High this or any other season, they said on Monday, welcoming the opportunity to face them in both the regular and postseason.
Despite the loss of so many good players over the past two seasons, the Letender and Johnston duo said that the standard for excellence at Baldwin—a trip to the state playoffs and the goal of a WPIAL title—remains the same.
View the video above to see a preview of the Highlanders' 2012-13 campaign, which officially starts on Dec. 7 and 8 with a non-section tournament at Indiana Area High School.
Other players that the team should see significant contributions from this season include Lutz, junior guard Nicole Corcoran, sophomore guard Amanda Larkin, junior forward Taylor Duchon and freshman guard Alex Barr (a former St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin School standout).
This will be Prosser's second season at Baldwin. He is assisted by Laura Grimm and Zach Ferguson, both also in their second seasons.
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