Raiders Rising in Region

The Raiders returned home this weekend as Walton hosted region opponent Roswell and Kennesaw Mountain in a non-region contest. In two incredible games, the Raider girls split their contests this weekend.

Against the Roswell Hornets, the girls fought hard to keep the game close, making up for some early turnovers. Ultimately, it was a 3-point shot by Tomisin Adenupe with 2.8 seconds left that put the Raiders on top.

Adenupe scored 21 points, making that five games over 20. Senior Neusha Green averaged double-digit rebounds in both games this weekend. After her season ended abruptly last year due to injury, Green has started the year strong, leading the team in both rebounding and blocks. The rotation of players at the wings has been an asset for the Raiders so far, creating shots on offense and playing tight man-to-man defense. In a hard-fought physical game, the tables turned on Saturday as the Raiders lost 44-45. 

 

Two wins this weekend bring the boys’ record to 9-2. On Friday, the Raiders beat the Hornets 69-61. The Hornets have given the Raiders trouble in the past, eliminating them from the region tournament two years ago and sweeping the season series last year. However, the Raiders were able to defeat the Hornets with team chemistry and balanced scoring. While Roswell relied heavily on two players, the Raiders were able to get three players into double figures and hit 10 three pointers as a team. Sophomore Dylan Pumpian torched the Hornets for five three pointers, swinging the momentum multiple times in favor of the Raiders. Made free throws iced the game for the Raiders in the fourth quarter. On Saturday, the Raiders defeated Kennesaw Mountain 58-49, led by Luka Avaliani’s 22 points.

In region play, the girls stand at 2-0, just behind the region leader Cherokee with a 3-0 record. With a loss to Etowah, the boys are at 1-1 in region play and also look to take Cherokee out of the region lead when they all meet on Friday, January 3 at Cherokee.

When the Raiders finish up exams on Friday, they will hit the road to take on South Forsyth. Both boys and girls will wrap up 2019 with a holiday tournament before taking on Cherokee. The Raiders next home game will be on Saturday, January 4 against Blessed Trinity. Start the New Year by showing up for your Raiders. 

On The Road

Just as the rest of Raider Nation got back to work this week after the Thanksgiving holiday, our Raiders continued preparing for their first region games this Tuesday. Both the girls and boys were on the road this past week, bringing the boys’ record to 7-1 and the girls to 2-6.
 

The Raider girls continued to improve their play against their opponents this week, defeating Kennesaw Mountain 49-32 and losing a close game to North Paulding 50-54. A key indicator for their play so far is their point differential of -4.3 points per game. Despite the losses, they have been within reach in nearly all of their games, fighting until the last whistle. Junior Tomisin Adenupe continues her great start to the year, averaging 21 points in the week’s two games. Adenupe’s average in second-half play is hard 12 points, which happens to be the girls’ lowest scoring quarter. This played a big role in their most recent win over Kennesaw Mountain; Adenupe scored 14 points in the second half, including 11 free throws to stunt a Kennesaw Mountain comeback.Junior Jacki Hecklinski contributed this week with hustle plays and timely shots. Hecklinski scored 7 points within the first few minutes of the Kennesaw Mountain game, giving the Raiders an early lead to propel them to victory. Hecklinski has also been active on the defensive side of the ball as of late, averaging 1.3 steals over her last three games. Very impressive about the Lady Raiders this year has been their willingness to share the basketball. A little over half of their total points have come from assists, resulting mainly from the rotation of the ball around the perimeter in an attempt to find an open shooter. Their hustle and teamwork will begin to add on to the wins for the Raider girls. 

 

The boys are off to their best start since the 2013 season, when the Raiders opened the year 13-0. The hot start junior Luka Avaliani has much to do with this opening success. Avaliani is averaging just under 20 points per game this year, with most of his baskets coming when the team needs them most. Luka averages 11.2 points in the second half of games this year, including 6.6 in the fourth quarter and overtime. Against Hillgrove on Saturday, Avaliani was able to go from one end of the court to the other and make a layup at the buzzer which sent the Raiders to overtime, where they won 43-40. Senior David Sickles has also played well this year, leading the team in three pointers made. David was able to torch the Kennesaw Mountain Mustangs, scoring 9 points in the fourth quarter and icing the game at the foul line. The final score against the Mustangs was 59-55. David has come out of the gate this season with intensity in his senior season. Sickles explains, “Everyone is looking at me now and expects me to be a key player on the team.” Junior Carson Adler leads the Raiders in three-point percentage. Adler has proven that he is not only a shooter, however, and has been pushing the tempo on fast breaks this season. Adler is now averaging 8.3 points per game. 
 
The Raiders stay on the road Tuesday as they take on Etowah. On Friday and Saturday, the Raiders will be back in the Pit so be there to show your support!

Back in the Gym

Basketball season is underway! The Raiders played several games in this first week of the season, giving Raider Nation much to look forward to this season.
 
The 1-5 start of the Raider varsity girls should not be a season predictor. In this week’s losses, they were only outscored by 9 points per game. Tomisin Adenupe is off to a great start, averaging 20 points. Her play was highlighted by a 23-point outing in a 16-point victory over Dunwoody on Saturday. Adenupe’s game has continued to develop as she has put a

tremendous amount of effort into becoming a versatile offensive player. Averaging 3 assists per game, Adenupe looks comfortable handling the ball outside the three-point line. Sophomore forward Liz Williams is averaging 10 points per game so far and is consistently able to make plays inside the three point line. This is no surprise to those of us who watched her in her varsity starts last season. This year the team will increasingly look to Williams as multiple forwards graduated at the end of last season. A new face on the court this season is point guard Ellie Kate Cline. Despite her lack of varsity experience, Cline is a strong ball handler who has the ability to break the press and find the open player with her impressive court vision. Senior Emily Lee has shown to be the team’s most capable shooter this year, leading the Raider girls in three pointers made through six games. Saturday, the Raider girls will host North Cobb to take on the Lady Warriors at 2:00.
 
The Raider varsity boys earned a record of 4-1 in this first week of the season. Averaging 17 points per game so far, junior point guard Luka Avaliani seems poised for a big season after his recent tour with the Georgian National basketball team. Senior David Sickles has started the season off strong as well, averaging 13 points per game. Sickles scored 22 points in the season opener against Osborne and 14 in the victory over Harrison coming through yet again in crunch time. Sickles now has made 4 three pointers this year with the game inside five minutes or in an overtime period, giving the Raiders a closer if they need one. Senior Cole Morris thus far has averaged a double double and played strong defense in the paint. Cole is a key component of the offense as the team feeds the ball inside to Morris and relies on him to pass out of double teams to shooters or take the ball up himself. Another big man to watch this season is sophomore Johnathon Awolyee, providing a spark off of the bench with his athleticism and length on the defensive end. While this is his first season on varsity, many who are inside the program saw this coming for Awolyee. In only his second year of competitive basketball play, Awolyee was a force on the junior varsity team last year, earning him the MVP. A new face to the program is freshman forward Pearce Spurlin. Pearce missed the first four games of the season, as he started at wide receiver for the varsity football team, but in his first game on varsity against Duluth scored 14 points. Pearce will provide the team with solid defense on the wing as well as the athleticism to finish at the basket and through contact. The Raiders will play North Cobb at home this Saturday at 3:30.

Basketball Begins

Basketball has tipped off for the Raiders! Raider Nation got its first view of the Raider varsity girls and boys on Thursday night in a scrimmage against the Pope Greyhounds.

 

With a final score of 46-57, the Raider girls battled hard against the Greyhounds. Junior  Tomisin Adenupe, recently committed to Davidson College, led the Lady Raiders with 19 points. After being primarily an inside scorer for first two years, Tomisin demonstrated offensive versatility in this game. In preparation for this year, Adenupe spent hours in the gym, and it looks to have paid off so far. She attempted and made four foul shots and

made multiple passes to the inside when the defense started to contest her shot. Sophomore forward Liz Williams ended the scrimmage with 10 points for the Raiders and is one of the players Coach Kelterborn is counting on this year. After graduating multiple wing players, Liz will be asked to play a big role for the Raiders. Liz had double digit starts last year for the Raiders and had some very memorable performances in region play. Another wing to look for is sophomore swing player Lauren Tiffin. Lauren dressed for the second half of the year for the varsity team and played well in the scrimmage. One of Tiffin’s assets is her exceptional court vision which could earn her valuable minutes this year. Multiple times she kept the Pope defense off balance by swinging the ball around the perimeter and assisted by passing to the bigs inside the paint. The Raider girls will open their season Tuesday at 6:00 at home vs. Riverwood High School.

The boys also fought hard against the Greyhounds with a final score of 44-57. Junior point guard Luka Avaliani scored 10 points in the loss. As significant as his scoring, Luka set up his teammates often with strong drives to the basket where he then passed out to an open shooter beyond the arc. Fresh off a summer in which he played for the Georgian National team and averaged 15 points, Avaliani says that he expects “to help lead my team this year and be able to bring a region championship back to Walton.” One emphasis this year so far for the team has been to feed the ball inside to senior big man Cole Morris. Cole will come into this season as one of the key players on the team and recently said at the Georgia basketball media day, “this season I want to make big strides on the court. I want to help my team out in any way I can, whether that be crashing the boards, playing defense, or scoring in the paint on offense.” Cole managed to secure a double double in the loss and was able to bring in many offensive rebounds over Pope’s big men. The boys will open their season on Thursday vs. the Osborne Cardinals at 7:30 in the Pit.

Coming Soon

Basketball season is almost here! Your Raiders officially closed out the fall league in Thursday’s contest. While tryouts are still to come, it’s clear that Walton is preparing for a compelling region run.
 

In a 55-56 finish against Walker High School, Walton alum and former Clemson basketball standout Tom Wideman was at the helm for your Raiders. With junior point guard Luka Avaliani absent, it was senior Toni Adenupe who carried the responsibilities of floor general. Adenupe has always been an athletic, crafty finisher around the basketball, but, this year, his court vision and play decisions are noticeable. In a game highlights, Toni received the ball at the top of the key, and, instead of taking a shot himself, he chose the extra pass, looking off a Walker defender and firing a bullet to Cole Morris for an easy layup. Cole once again impressed, leading the Raiders in scoring with 14 points. A key change this year for Morris has been his uptick in aggression, and it was certainly evident as he threw off Walker defenders for multiple put-back opportunities. Junior Landon Hong also did a good job of directing traffic in half court sets and set up plays for the Raiders by making extra passes and attacking at the right time. 
 
The Raiders this year will look to open up the court and play as a unit, which will ultimately prove to create a more effective offense. At times last season, there was a feeling of hesitancy as players seemed to wait on playmakers. This year, the Raiders will be looking to control the pace of the game. With many young players with a year of varsity experience, they are dictating the tempo and looking to set up the offense. Many points will be generated from spacing the floor, allowing the ball handler to dump it into a big, drive and kick to the open shooter or take it all the way themselves. 
 
Defensive intensity also seems strong, and a few players make their way onto the court because of their defensive effort and hustle. Junior Alex Packman put up a strong fight against the Walker defenders, battling hard for rebounds and loose balls. Though Alex may not be bigger then some of the giants that roam in the paint, his intensity and passion to get the ball back for his team distinguishes him. The aggressiveness of junior Tripp Smith also stands out on defense. On the junior varsity squad last season, Smith developed a reputation as a strong finisher who isn’t afraid of contact.
 
Tryouts for Raider basketball are upcoming, and final rosters will be announced on October 23.  Make sure to mark your calendars for November 7th when the 2019-20 Raider team will scrimmage Pope. There, we will meet our Raiders and have a glimpse of what they will do this upcoming season!

A New Season Coming

Raider Faithful, basketball is almost here! With the fall league coming to a close the next week, here are some standout performances against River Ridge that should have you ready for another season of Raider basketball.
 
In a 45-55 loss, the Raiders were a little undermanned on Thursday night, as they have yet not finalized a roster, and some of last year’s contributors, including junior standout Luka Avaliani, were not present. That did not stop the Raiders from putting together a solid night’s work. Although head coach Coach Bo Abney was in the stands for this game, the team’s play, directed by Coach Bryan Morris, reflected Abney’s emphasis over the past two years. One notable adjustment from last year is the extra pass that some players are making. On many occasions, instead of settling for a shot, a player would pass to create a great shot for another teammate. 
 
The Raiders had several sophomores play meaningful minutes last year, and while a learning curve is still seen at times, chemistry is building for these players. The high scorer of the night was junior swingman Carson Adler with 14 points, who has shown noticeable growth from last year. Adler has expanded his offensive arsenal and is now showing the potential to be a complete scorer on all three levels. Junior Dylan Pumpian provided a number of big threes, and all of Raider Nation should know how fast Dylan can catch fire. In his first varsity start last year, Dylan erupted for 18 points, including four three pointers. 
 
As for the veterans of the team, senior David Sickles, seems to have stepped into leadership very nicely and will look to have a big season. David created many shots for himself but was also vocal and kept the team on course when they were down by as many as 14 points. Fellow senior Cole Morris was dominant in the low post, finishing with an easy double double. With Franklin Muoka leaving your Raiders this offseason for college, Cole will have to step into the role as the starting big man this year, and he showed he is more then capable of it. Without any hesitancy under the basket, he finished strong and commanded double teams from the River Ridge defenders to open up shooters. Keep an eye on this strategy for the Raiders this season. In the past, they have dumped the ball in to a big to set up action off of it, whether it be a backside cut or quickly swinging the ball around the perimeter to shooters. 
 
The Raiders will open the season with a scrimmage against the Pope Greyhounds on November 7th, so mark your calendars and make sure to come and support your Raiders!

JR Raiders Announced

Walton JR Basketball Director, Bryan Morris, has announced the 2019 rosters for seven teams in the JR Raider program. The 6th grade boys will have two teams competing this year, one in region play and the other in tournament play.

Roster can be found on our website at: JR Raiders

Information for 2019-2020 High School Basketball

Boys Program: Players Meeting – Mandatory informational meeting for all high school boys interested in playing basketball. Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, 12:50pm, Room 108 at Walton HS.  Please complete the TRYOUT FORM.

Girls Program: Parent Meeting – Informational meeting for all high school girls’ parents interested in playing basketball. Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, 7:00pm, Information Center at Walton HS.