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Baker steps down as girls’ basketball coach

He referred to it as rewarding. That is how Scott Baker summarized his tenure as the Central Mountain girls basketball coach.

Baker–who led the Wildcats to an eye-opening 17 wins this past season–made the decision to step down as Central Mountain’s coach earlier this week. He spent the past three winters leading the Wildcats. Prior to taking over the position he was the boys coach for than 15 seasons.

The reason he resigned from coach of the boys team after the 2017 season? To take a break and watch his son Brody play the game. Fast forward four years later, he is stepping down to follow his daughter Avery’s career at the next level of play.

The transition to girls basketball from boys didn’t scare Baker, although it was something that he had to adapt to. Baker decided to step in as the girls coach after his daughter wanted her father’s guidance on the court, since he spent the last few years at the time coaching his son.

Scott accepted the position to coach the girls team with one thing in mind. It was never about winning championships and racking up accomplishments according to Baker, but instead it was about building long-lasting relationships.

It was a process to turnaround a once struggling team.

“Coaching to me has never been about winning championships. It’s about relationships you build with players over the year. You need a process–you start in the spring–I love the building process. You make the adjustments you need to make. It’s like a chess match. I will miss that. There aren’t many places you can build relationships like you can in competitive sports,” Baker said.

During Baker’s first days as coach of the girls team, he instilled basketball philosophies he had used for his entire coaching career. Baker explained to his new squad that they would be a team that played full-court man-to-man defense and run up and down the floor. He brought the ideas of hustle, heart and dedication to the program. Much like Samuel L. Jackson did in the 2005 film ‘Coach Carter.’

Baker inherited a program that went winless the year prior. It was a roster depleted of victories but not of willpower to improve. All along, Baker stressed to his team the idea of trusting the process. Trusting that the hard work would pay off and trusting that one day the program would be transformed.

“The process to us was we had to build skills and learn to do things correctly. The wins will take care of themselves,” Baker said. “I don’t think it took them very long to see that progress was being made. Games were getting a little closer. There were games, many games when they were scoring in single digits. The 40-point losses were starting to become 20-point losses. It started to look like basketball.”

After a winless first season Baker and the Wildcats tallied six wins the year after. It was a significant step, and a signpost as to where things were headed.

The process Baker described was completed this past winter. Central Mountain won 17 games, claimed the Heartland Athletic Conference and set the standard high for future teams.

This past winter, Central Mountain managed to win 14 of its first 15 games under Baker. The Wildcats ultimately saw their season come to an end in the district title game against Hollidaysburg.

“I’m never one to take credit for many things,” Baker humbly said. “They bought in and accepted what we we’re trying to teach. To be able to finish the way we did this year, it definitely was rewarding.”

One win shy of a district title is a pretty solid exit for Baker. As far as coaching in the future, Baker has not ruled it out entirely.

“I’m at the point in my life where I say God will reveal to me when he’s ready to let me know what I will do next. Hopefully I will recognize what he’s calling me to do, and I will do it.” Baker said.

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