Over the past two seasons, Betsy Baker helped the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls basketball program return to the prominence in central Ohio that it had enjoyed during much of the previous two decades.

Baker, who is pregnant and due in September, announced May 15 that she was stepping down as coach.

Under Baker, the Lions went 37-16 with a Division I district runner-up finish in 2017 and a district championship this past season.

“My love for Gahanna Lincoln basketball is one that runs deep, and I’ve very much enjoyed my time coaching these young women,” Baker said in an email to members of the program. “At this time, I’m stepping down as the head coach of the women’s basketball program. … I am honored to have served such a great program and I truly believe the best is yet to come.”

Baker, whose maiden name is Morrison, is a 2005 Gahanna graduate who is married to Teays Valley girls coach Joel Baker.

She was inducted into Gahanna’s athletic hall of fame in 2015 after competing in soccer, basketball and track and field and played basketball at Ashland University.

The Lions went 238-100 and won five district championships in 14 seasons under former coach Rick Hauser from 2002-16.

Baker, who was a sophomore during Hauser’s first season, served as junior varsity coach at Sparta Highland for two seasons before leading the Fighting Scots to a 9-12 record in 2011-12, her only previous season as a varsity coach. She then served as an assistant under Hauser from 2012-16.

The Lions finished 13-11 and lost in the second round of the district tournament in Hauser’s final season.

“Walking away from a program that has meant so much to me over the course of my lifetime was not an easy decision,” Baker said. “I spent years as a spectator, then as a player, moved back as an assistant coach and then was fortunate enough to lead the program for two years.

“Winning a district championship and finally knocking off one of our league foes (Reynoldsburg in a district final) was definitely a highlight of the two years, but the greatest moments are really the small ones that happen day-to-day that others don’t always see, (such as) laughing uncontrollably about something at practice, seeing a kid finally execute a move or play she’s been working on and watching the process of teenagers bond together over the course of a season. Those are the moments that I’ll remember looking back.”

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek