HASLETT – Imania Baker got the news shortly after she returned home from the hospital.
The Haslett girls basketball freshman suffered a Grade 2 concussion in the first quarter of the Vikings’ 11-point loss to Class A No. 5-ranked DeWitt on Feb. 17, and it was after hours at the hospital that Baker heard about the result.
That’s what bothered her the most.
“I heard we lost by (11), and I average 12,” said Baker, who returned briefly to the game in the second quarter but left for the hospital in the second half after seeing black spots. “I felt like if I was there, we could have done a lot more. Probably won the game.”
It would have been a big win for Haslett. Not only would the program have knocked off one of the state’s top teams, but it would have put the Vikings in a tie for first place in the CAAC Red.
Baker missed all of the final week of the regular season. Haslett went 1-1 during that span. But Baker is back now, and she’s ready to help the Vikings win a Class B district title, and, hopefully, more.
Haslett kicked off district play Monday with a 51-point win over Eastern. Baker, in her first game back, scored 11 points in limited minutes. She’s ready to return to her old form as the Vikings take on No. 3-ranked Williamston in Wednesday’s semifinal.
“I was scared I wasn’t going to be able to help my team out (during districts),” Baker said. “I worked extra hard on the steps to recovery to make sure that I was back for this week.
“Knowing that a freshman helps contribute to the team, means a lot. Like I said before, a lot of varsity teams don’t allow that from freshmen.”
In the second half of the season, Baker has started to come into her own. She leads the team in scoring (12.2 points per game) and rebounding (8.3 per game). Baker’s development is one of the reasons Haslett finished the regular season by winning six of its last eight games.
Senior guard Annisa Whims, who scored a game-high 27 points in Baker’s return, said the 6-foot-3 forward makes life easier on the court.
“She really opens (the game) up for the outside shots,” Whims said. “The difference between us making our outside shots and them just rimming out is being a couple feet more open with Imania in the paint, and her presence.
“We thought she was going to be out all of this week. We really prepared ourselves as team without Imania, and now that we Imania, I think we’re that much more prepared for the tournament.”
First-year coach Ross Baker said his forward’s presence gives his club a better shot at making a postseason run. The Vikings feed off their freshman, and they’ll need her more than ever if they plan on knocking off one of the state’s top programs.
“She’s someone who other teams have to prepare for,” Ross Baker said. “The girls know where she’s going to be at. The girls know she catches anything they give her.
“She’s an incredible rebounder and finisher, and it gives the girls confidence that they can play inside-out. When she’s in the game, it really does open things outside for us. …That’s so important.”
Contact James L. Edwards III at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.
Want to go?
When: Wednesday, March 1
What: Class B district semifinals
Where: Fowlerville High School
Who: Williamston vs. Haslett (6 p.m.) and Lansing Catholic vs. Fowlerville (7:30 p.m.)