The Wilkinsburg girls’ basketball team is like the perfect storm: all of the elements are there and coming together for effect. Head coach Barb Baldwin is excited about the way her players focus on putting their talents toward team play.
“We had some really big games starting out,” Baldwin says, referring to the Tigers’ loaded schedule. The team started the season at the Butler tournament, playing both Butler and Upper St. Clair. “We go and review game tape to see what we did well as what we can work on,” adds Baldwin. “Part of it is trying to find the camaraderie in terms of the players knowing each other really well. We’re still trying to click.”
The ‘clicking’ is increasing for Wilkinsburg. The team’s December 21st home game against Trinity Christian proved to be an example of the team togetherness that the girls have envisioned as they work. Baldwin described the game, noting how well the team found each other with smart passes. Wilkinsburg won 73-33.
Senior forward Erica Johnson scored 25 points in Wilkinsburg’s December 21st game. Prior to that game she averaged 5 rebounds and 11.8 points per game. “[Johnson] has the ability to play inside,” says Baldwin. “She’s also able to shoot from the outside.” Baldwin also notes that Johnson uses her height well. “She’s 5’8” and just uses her body well, giving her the advantage over her opponent. That’s pretty much where her points are coming from -- right up underneath the basket.”
Another way Wilkinsburg’s “storm” manifested itself on December 21st was through senior guard Tiaunte Anderson. Anderson had 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 steals that night. “She’s a very quick, very defensive player,” Baldwin says. Baldwin also describes Anderson as a “good slasher to the hoop.” The majority of points come from Anderson’s steals. “She’s a pretty good shooter from outside as well,” says Baldwin. Baldwin had seen a recent report on Anderson, and the report stated that she averaged 2.6 steals per game. Anderson's season high is the 10 steals she made on Wednesday (December 21st) night, however.
Shannon Delaney and London Wade both serve the team at the point guard position. Delaney is the current assists leader, and a vocal leader on the team as well. Baldwin describes Delaney as a “mother hen.” Along with Johnson, Delaney is known to speak up to the team and let them know when they need to put more effort into minimizing turnovers or similar in-game objectives. Wade, a freshman, averaged 8.5 points per game prior to December 21st. “London is the backup point guard, but I’ve been moving her into the rotation as a starter,” Baldwin says. “London is very quick.” Wade has the ability to pick out an opponent’s best player in order to stay with that player. A lefthander, Wade can get to the hoop with a lot of speed or even shoot a floater from longer than typical floater range (usually 5-10 feet). “She can look and get the open player,” Baldwin adds, “and she talks well to get people into their positions.
With great team elements like those from Johnson, Delaney, Wade, Anderson, and others, what is still a challenge to Wilkinsburg? “What we need to do defensively is to control the tempo of the game,” Baldwin says. She plans to make it harder for opponents to speed the Tigers’ up.
Through genuine motivation to come together as a team, the Wilkinsburg girls’ basketball team will work on every level. They will address in-game technicalities as well as taking steps toward playoffs. “Last year we had a goal to go to playoffs and missed it by a game or two,” says Baldwin “But they had that taste in their mouth,” she adds. “We’re taking it one practice at a time, one game at a time. We’d like to try to get in and make our mark.”
In Wilkinsburg’s last game, Serra Catholic defeated the Lady Tigers 70-47. This brought Wilkinsburg’s current record to 2-5-0 (1-1-0). The Lady Tigers take the floor next versus Ringgold at the Cal U Classic. Game time is 5pm on December 29th.