Gil Pound: Pound for Fired up, Bravettes

Mar. 5—Baldwin girls basketball players, coaches, alumni, fans, and supporters — this is your week. Wednesday is your night. A state championship hangs in the balance when the Bravettes meet the Hardaway Lady Hawks 5 p.m. Wednesday inside the Macon Coliseum.

It's a familiar venue for the Bravettes, one where their season ended in a 51-47 championship loss to Griffin on March 8, 2023. Heartbreaker doesn't cover it. Baldwin lost the lead with only about 25 seconds to play. It was a night where the team played far from its best when only a slightly better performance would have gotten the job done.

Leaving the Coliseum that night, I knew the Bravettes would be back. Then and there I came up with a name for the 2023-24 campaign: the Baldwin Bravettes Revenge Tour. Boy has that been the case.

They enter Wednesday's final with a 28-2 record. Head coach and Bravette alumna Kizzi Walker had to go out and find tough competition to test her girls because Baldwin's region is weak. The only blemishes for the 4A program have come against 7A Elite Eight team Norcross, whose season ended at the hands of finalist Grayson, and St. Francis, a Class A Division 1 state finalist private school known for "finding" some of the state's best players.

Not bad losses to have on the resumé, and the wins are impressive too. Walker's girls this season have beaten Class 6A Final Four squad Veterans (59-43), AA semifinalist Central-Macon (61-41), and Green Forest (63-34), who will play for the Class A Division 2 title earlier on Wednesday.

The state playoffs, which are supposed to serve as a gauntlet, have been a breeze. Following a why-did-you-even-show-up 84-5 win in the first round, Baldwin went on to defeat the rest of its opponents by at least 20 points each night to waltz into Wednesday's championship. The playoff run included a quarterfinal win at Stockbridge, played on the road due to a coin flip. The Bravettes flexed their muscles in Saturday's neutral-site game as well, handling Fayette County 55-32 in the Final Four.

Now a shot at history stands before the Baldwin girls. Although they own one of the more storied programs in the state, the Bravettes have not won a championship since the late '80s. Multiple close calls, but too many times BHS has had to watch another team walk off the floor with the trophy.

Not this year. No sad scenes and wondering what might have been. It's time for Baldwin County to take over the Coliseum. It's time for joy and elation. It's time for a parade. Do it for the community. Do it for Baldwin High. Do it for yourselves. Do it for Tasha.

I'm going to the Coliseum Wednesday. Who's coming with me?