Wade Baldwin is regarded as one of the most talented players in the state as he combines athleticism, explosiveness, finesse and a high skill set to go along with a little showmanship.
To think he is just rounding into shape and playing the way he is capable of playing running the St. Joseph (Met.) offense as a 6-4 point guard is scary.
Baldwin, bothered by a bad back all season suffered in the pre-season, is healthy and playing his best ball of the season. Last night in Metuchen, the Hillsborough resident was in total control, facilitating, taking the ball to the hole and pulling up for his sweet jumper to the delight of the home crowd in his final home game at the Metuchen school.
The Big 3 mom's from left: Luisa Townes (Marques' mother), Jackie Cruz-Towns and Monica Baldwin (Photo by John Haley)
Baldwin finished with a season-high 23 points, shooting 9 of 13 and scoring on an assortment of highlight moves, and added eight assists, while 7-1 Karl Towns added his usual 22 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks as St. Joseph posted a 78-44 victory over Bishop Eustace in the NJSIAA ShopRite, South Jersey, Non-Public A semifinals.
St. Joseph (26-2), which has won 20 games or more in all nine of head coach Dave Turco's seasons there, will seek its third straight sectional title when it takes on Paul VI tomorrow at Jackson Liberty at 4 p.m.
The Big 3 of Kentucky-bound Towns, Vanderbilt-bound Baldwin and Marques Townes (10 points) went over 5,000 career points as a trio. Marques Townes has 1,797 career points, Baldwin 1,639 and Karl Towns 1,599. The trio, which also reached exactly 300 career 3-pointers, combined for 55 points on 20 of 31 shooting. Raven Owen added 11 points.
“I'm dealing with a little foot injury now, but my back is fine,'' said Baldwin, who has a career won-loss record of 80-34, which includes two years at Immaculata. “I'm on a streak now where I understand my role, which is to get everyone involved first, then let everything flow from there.
“I feel we have the best team in the state and I'm doing everything I can to contribute. Right now, we're on a roll and having fun.''
St. Joseph jumped to a 13-4 lead after the first quarter, then led 33-18 at halftime. Bishop Eustace cut the lead to 13 to open the third quarter before a 10-2 run energized the Falcons from there as the lead would hit 30 early in the fourth quarter.
"It felt weird yelling at them at halftime, but I didn't think we were taking good shots or finishing strong,'' said Turco. "But I guess I'm striving for perfection and I have to realize they're high school kids. But the third quarter was much better. That was one of the best quarters I've seen Wade play. He's healthy now and he's getting everyone involved, picking his spots and making everything flow.''
The Big 3's dad's, from left: Bryant Townes (Marques' father), Karl Towns Sr. and Wade Baldwin III (Photo by John Haley)