For the past two Saturdays nights, Baylor students have packed Duke Arena to watch the boys’ basketball team hit the hardwoods for some quality Chattanooga high school basketball.
This year, however, the games feel a little bit different. There is a certain buzz in the crowd—whether it’s about some of our breakout stars or the overall exciting play (or both) — is yet to be determined. Baylor students come to Duke Arena expecting a victory, and the boys’ team has delivered so far this year, starting with an undefeated 6-0 record.
There are many reasons for Baylor’s great start to the 2018-19 basketball season, but none seems more prominent than the effect of new coach Mark Price. Coach Price has respected retired coach Austin Clark's legacy while also instilling his own culture and beliefs into the legendary program. The players have shown that their hard work is paying off so far this season, and they credit much of their success to the coaches. Senior point guard Beyuan Hendricks states, “We may get out outplayed, but we will never get out-coached.”
After the Baylor community dedicated the court in honor of Clark on Dec. 1, Baylor defeated Georgia's Rabun Gap 63-40 in Duke Arena, led by Hendricks with 19 points and a balanced supporting cast. One of the most noticeable aspects of Baylor’s strong play has been the combination of Hendricks and sophomore center Nick Kurtz. Kurtz, a Wake Forest baseball commit, adds a strong, physical presence to Baylor’s offense, and has been able to shut down some of the opponents’ best players. Other key offensive producers have been seniors Wiley Pippenger, Greyson Linderman, Blake Pruitt, and Lorenzo White.
The boys’ basketball team's outstanding start has shown great promise for what is to come in the remainder of the season. The “Best of Preps” tournament will be held in a few weeks and Baylor appears poised to take the crown this year, something they have the mindset of doing every game. “Our goal this year is to become a really consistent team. We don’t want to have bad games, and we want to get better each game,” declared Pippenger, and if this work ethic continues, Baylor has a great shot at winning the state tournament.
After New Year’s, the team looks forward to anticipated match-ups against McCallie and Brentwood Academy, who defeated Baylor in the state championship last year.