Baldwin Back With Cairo Basketball

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By Bret Beherns

CAIRO -- It's hard to miss Cairo head coach Larry Baldwin. With his trademark blue sport coat and whistle to match his style, he's a household name in Alexander County. After stepping away from the program for the last three seasons, Baldwin is back on the sidelines.

"I'm very excited and at the same time a little nervous too."

Baldwin coached at Cairo for 12 years from 1994 to 2006, winning more than 200 games, including a fourth place finish in the class A state tournament in 2003. After retiring, he returned for one more season in 2007, then hung it up for three years. Now he's looking to turn around a program that's had three different coaches since he left.

"You miss the basketball," Baldwin said. "You miss all the big time tournaments, being out there on the court with the kids."

A native of Cairo, Baldwin played for the Pilots in the 70's before suiting up in college at McKendree University. To him, Cairo will always be home, which is a big reason why he decided to return.

"You do it for the kids," he said. "You see some of them walking the streets, when you know they should be somewhere doing something."

His players appreciate his willingness to come back.

"Since I've been in high school we've had a different coach every year and now that we've got coach Baldwin, he's got us working hard," Pilots senior Darrell Jackson said. "I know he expects a lot out of us because he's used to winning all the time."

That tradition starts with scoring in transition, a staple for Baldwin and the Pilots.

"It's easy buckets so you might as well run it," Pilots senior Codi Willaims said. "To me, Cairo basketball is hustling, having good confidence, just playing your hardest."

"I can't promise any big time victories but you can always go out and give your best and that's what I tell the kids. There are no guarantees but if you go out and work hard, good things will happen."
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