Campbell’s Baker set for emotional homecoming
Tonisha Baker couldn’t have scheduled her final regular season game in a Campbell uniform any better even if she had done it herself.
Thanks to having an open date on the final day of the season Saturday, the Camels will end their Big South campaign on Thursday with a trip to High Point, allowing the former T. Wingate Andrews star to make her swan song in her hometown in front of family and friends.
“I wouldn’t want to have it any other way, going back home and playing in front of people who I grew up around,” Baker said by telephone on Tuesday. “They get to see me play one more time.”
Those who she expects to be in the Millis Center crowd behind the Campbell bench are her parents. Some friends of the family and some of her Andrews classmates.
“It should be a really good time,” Baker said. “It should be a fun game. I think it’s a wonderful thing actually.”
Baker, a 5-8 guard who was first-team All-Atlantic Sun two years ago and second-team All-Big South last year, comes home with numbers worthy of another all-conference selection. She leads the Camels in scoring at 14.5 points a game, is tied for second in rebounding at 5.4 per game, is shooting 47 percent from the floor and is averaging 2.6 assists per game.
But, she often makes the biggest impact on the defensive end of the floor. She currently leads the Big South with an average of 3.29 steals per game, a figure that is 14th nationally. With five more, she would set a Big South single-season record of 97.
For her career, she is sixth in school history with 1,460 points, third with 257 steals, sixth in assists with 353, eighth in field goals made with 581, has 652 rebounds, and will tie for second in school history for games played when he takes the court Thursday and will tie the record by playing in the first game at the conference tournament.
“As far as personal goals that comes secondary to the team’s goals,” Baker said. “The individual goals, they fall into place when the team is playing well. The thing is it could be anybody’s night day in and day out. As far as the individual accomplishments, I don’t focus on that. I just go out there and play as hard as I can, as long as I can.”
The team has been playing well of late. The Camels have won six of their past seven after going through a stretch of three losses in four games. They are 19-9 and 10-6 in the conference, good enough to be assured of playing in the game between the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds in the opening round of the conference tournament next week. Campbell would play either Radford or High Point in that game.
“It’s been a pretty good season, one of the best seasons that I’ve had,” Baker said. “We have a good team, we’re young and energetic.”
A psychology major, Baker wants to play professionally and sees a couple of opportunities in that regard.
“I’m not going to focus on that until the season is over,” she said.
If that falls through, she would like to help council elementary school or middle school students. She isn’t interested in coaching.
“I enjoy interacting with people and giving healthy advice and helping those in need,” Baker said.
But, there Is still basketball to play and one last trip home for a game.