Senior Spirit

Your Raiders played great basketball last week in preparation for the region tournament, where they hope to clinch a state playoff spot.

The girls lost to the Cherokee Warriors on Tuesday. Senior Neusha Green was able to put up a near double-double, fighting hard in the paint against Warrior defenders for rebounds and putback layups. Green has played well in the both games against the Warriors this season, which could be key if the two teams find themselves playing each other in the region tournament. Freshman Cici Childers also played well against the Warriors, succeeding in running the half-court offense and breaking traps when the Warrior defense threw them at her. Childers was able to find teammates open for midrange jump shots multiple times when she drove to the basket as well. Friday the girls honored their seniors with a 73-35 defeat of Lassiter. In their best offensive showing of the season, Emily Lee led the Raiders with 23 points on the night. Lee also had six three pointers on the night, and when she was subbed out received a standing ovation for her hard work for the program over the years. Her fellow senior Neusha Green also played a strong game, scoring 9 points and battling down low as she has for the entirety of her Walton career. Green also received a standing ovation as she subbed out for the last time in the game.  The Raider girls have played their best basketball over the back half of the season, and just played their best game of the year ahead of the region tournament. While they have played some tough games this year in region, they have consistently bounced back in their next matchup and have showed that, whenever they step on the court, they have a chance to win the game.

Despite a loss, the Raiders showed great improvement on Tuesday from their last matchup against the Cherokee Warriors. Much of this can be attributed to their ball movement. The team consistently swung the ball around the perimeter to find open shooters, and in the second half, was able to swing the ball inside as a result. Carson Adler was often one of those shooters on the perimeter, making four three point shots in the game and leading the Raiders in scoring for the night. Carson was able to start the second half strong for the Raiders, making threes on back to back possessions to cut the lead to single digits and swing the momentum in favor of the Raiders. Dylan Pumpian also found success against the Warriors, scoring 11 points on the game. Pumpian was not only a spot up shooter; he also put the ball on the floor multiple times and created space to free himself up to take a shot. The boys defeated Lassiter in their senior night as well, 67-43.  Pearce Spurlin was able to open up the game in a big way, jumping over a Trojan defender for a put back layup. Spurlin also had a big presence in the lane, swatting away multiple Trojan shot attempts and affecting other shots. Luka Avaliani lead the Raiders in scoring, finishing with 19 points. Luka also had 3 straight and-ones in the 4th quarter, sealing the game for the Raiders. All of our Raider seniors found success in their last home regular season game as Raiders. Toni Adenupe scored in double figures, slicing through the lane and finishing through contact for layups. David Sickles finished with 12 points, making big shots when needed to slow the Trojan momentum. David’s last points came midway through the third when, off a pass from the elbow, he took a three from well beyond the line and sunk it to extend the lead to 20 points. Cole Morris put the exclamation mark on the night when he took one dribble from the foul line and threw down a powerful dunk over a hopeless Lassiter defender. 

Both teams will finish the regular season this Friday on the road against Woodstock. The girls will start at 6:00, followed by the boys. Be there to support your Raiders!

Carson Adler: Competitive Edge

Successful basketball players need preparation and skill to distinguish themselves on the basketball court. They also need confidence. Confidence to step up and make big plays when needed. Junior Carson Adler has demonstrated his preparation, skill, and confidence this season, making big plays for the Raiders multiple times this year.

The Walton Basketball program started preparing Carson when he was in sixth grade and began reaping the benefit of that preparation in his sophomore year when he began logging minutes for the varsity team. His favorite basketball memory is that first varsity game against Osborne. Adler says he enjoys the dynamic between players during the games, hitting big shots, diving on loose balls, trash talk, and ultimately, coming out a winner. The Raiders have looked to Adler multiple times this season when they were down and were in need of a basket. Against Lassiter, the Raiders trailed by 10 against an extremely hostile Trojan crowd. Adler then scored 8 points in a row and was not fazed by the crowd at all. Against Cherokee, the region leader this season, Carson made two big fourth quarter shots as well as a few free throws to keep the game close and competitive. Carson explains that over the summer it was important to him to grow as a player because “sophomore year was about learning and just getting the varsity experience. Now, as a junior, I feel like I have to step up and help the underclassmen by showing what hard work can do for you.” One of his goals this summer was to improve his shot because “defenses in high school play very physical and tight. It’s important to have a good shot so that when you get any separation you can step into it and know that it’s going in.” The Raiders currently have nine juniors on the team, and Adler loves their chemistry on the floor: “A lot of us grew up playing basketball together, so it comes natural to us when we are out there. Then we have the other grades working and when we get on the floor it just feels natural and fun.”

When he is not working on or playing basketball, Carson enjoys hanging out with friends and playing video games. He stresses the importance of not only being an athlete but putting in work in the classroom to younger kids: “Today that can get taken for granted but, at Walton, we get a great opportunity for school and we need to capitalize on that.” Adler says that his role model in life is his Dad, because, “I wouldn’t be in basketball without my dad. He is really passionate about the game and helped me get into it from a really young age. More important than that though, he shows me how to be a good person and how to do things in the everyday world.”

Preparation. Skill. Confidence. See it in action with Carson Adler on the floor for your Walton Raiders.

Looking for a Strong Finish

Despite a loss to Etowah on Tuesday, the Raider girls will look to continue what has worked well for the team into the region tournament. The Raider girls have excelled with their press this year, and that was no different on Tuesday. They were able to stop Etowah from getting out on fast breaks and made them set up a half court offense. Amber Miller often led the press, stealing multiple passes and converting them into easy baskets for herself or her teammates. Lexi Harris was also able to find success against the Eagles, creating many extra possessions and even finding open shooters out of the high post on occasion. The Raiders will need Harris to continue her strong play, as they are able to cycle her and Neusha Green in order to tire out opposing bigs and still play fast. Against the Roswell Hornets the girls came up short, 75-85, in a high scoring contest. The Raider girls were able to play up to their opponent, matching a fast pace and making extra passes for easy shot attempts. With two minutes left in play, the Raider girls came within five points of the Hornets. Tomisin Adenupe scored 26 points, which took her over 1,000 points in her career. Tomisin achieved this feat in just under three seasons. While some tough teams await the girls in the region tournament, the girls proved that they are up for a challenge. They have senior night on Friday vs. Lassiter at 6:00.

The boys lost a close one to Etowah 37-39 on Tuesday, fighting until the final buzzer They were led by Cole Morris, who returned to play from a concussion and finished with 13 points. Cole is a vital piece of the Raider offense, and they return a much-needed starter right before the tournament. Cole will allow the team to not only dominate inside but also find open shots on the outside as he is a very capable passer. The boys came up just short against Roswell on Friday. David Sickles had a huge game, finishing with 15 points and three 3 pointers. David found his way into the game by passing to other shooters to start and then found his own rhythm in the second quarter. Another player help to the Raiders was senior Toni Adneupe. When the Raiders found themselves down by double figures, Toni checked in and repeatedly drove to the basket and finished through contact. As one of the veterans on the team, Toni will be one of the key parts to a potential region championship run for the Raiders. They have senior night on Friday against Lassiter at 7:30.

Come out and support your Raiders as they look to finish strong in regular season play!

Competing in the Crunch

Last week was another busy week for your Raiders. After meeting Lassiter and Woodstock, both teams are in third place in region play. With the tournament on the horizon, the Raiders will look to improve their seeding as they meet their region opponents again.

The girls beat the Lassiter Trojans on Tuesday with a final score of 65-37. In the inaugural game of the new Lassiter gym, the girls played very well in an

extremely hostile environment. Junior Amber Miller scored 5 points of off the tipoff to force the Trojans into an early timeout, clearly rattling them. The Trojans rallied back, and at the end of the first quarter the score was 14-12, Raiders. At the beginning of the second quarter, Coach Kelterborn moved  to a full court press and saw immediate dividends with multiple steals leading to fast breaks. Tomisin Adenupe was one of the leaders on this press, stealing multiple passes at half court and driving them into the paint. Adenupe finished the game with 32 points, her season high. Senior Neusha Green was a dominant force in the paint, securing multiple offensive rebounds to create more possessions for her teammates. Neusha has shown a tremendous amount of growth since last year, as she is not only a stronger rebounder but is able to stay on the court for much longer periods of time, playing almost the entire game on Tuesday. On Friday, the Raiders lost to the 17-2 Woodstock Wolverines. Despite being down early, the Raiders were persistent and never gave up until the final buzzer. Junior Jacki Hecklinski played the majority of the second half and made a strong impact with her defense. She shut down multiple Wolverine fast breaks and played impressive defense against  Woodstock opposition. Jacki was also one of two Walton Raiders to be honored on Friday as part of the Winterfest court. Sophomore Lauren Tiffin also had a strong game, making multiple outside shots and drawing a few fouls on offense. Tiffin has shown growth since her varsity debut this season and played a good portion of Friday’s game because of her consistent offensive play. The Raider ladies will look to get back in the win column on Tuesday when they host the Etowah\. In the first matchup of the season, the Raiders bested the Eagles, 51-43.

Resilience was key this week for the Raider boys. They won a close game against the Trojans on Tuesday, 55-50. Against an extremely hostile Lassiter fan base, the boys fell behind 12-4 early. After a quick timeout by Coach Abney, the boys refocused, playing with more confidence on offense. Carson Adler hit two quick three pointers to swing the momentum in favor of the Raiders. His fellow teammate Dylan Pumpian hit a three pointer of his own later in the half, and after 2 quarters of play the Raiders were down 22-29. The Raiders needed a spark in the second half on the offensive end. Luka Avaliani stepped in a huge way for the Raiders, scoring 18 of his game high 26 points in the second half alone. Luka got to the basket and finished at the rim. The Raiders took the lead midway through the quarter, beating the Trojans on their defense and rebounding. Late in the game, Luka put the game out of reach by drawing fouls and making free throws. The Raiders held the Trojans in check offensively in the second half largely with the press they ran in the fourth quarter. Landon Hong stole the ball multiple times, clearly frustrating the Trojans and securing the win for the Raiders. On Friday against the Woodstock Warriors the boys won a thrilling overtime game, 60-56. The Raiders were on fire out of the gate, led by the three point shooting of David Sickles. David made shots early to draw Warrior defenders close out on him and, then, passed the ball off to his teammates for easy baskets. Freshman Pearce Spurlin had a solid game in his first as a starter, finishing with a near double double. Despite his young age, Pearce is a physical player under the basket, securing several rebounds over Woodstock defenders and putting them back up for layups. The game came down to the wire, with the Warriors up 50-49 with 30 seconds left. Pearce secured an offensive rebound off of a miss and put it back up and in for the lead. After Woodstock responded with a three point shot, Luka Avaliani drove to the basket and made a clutch layup to tie the game with four seconds left. In overtime, the Raiders sealed the game with excellent foul shooting, which has improved drastically throughout the year. In addition to Hecklinski, Raider Tripp Smith was a part of the Winterfest court. The Raiders will look to climb to number 2 in region as they host Etowah Tuesday. With much on the line, the Raiders will look to avenge their 49-52 loss to the Eagles earlier this season.

Come out and support your Raiders on Tuesday, beginning at 6:00!

Region Play Heats Up

Happy New Year Raiders! While the semester begins for the rest of Raider Nation today, your Raider basketball teams have already been hard at work in 2020. After playing Cherokee and Blessed Trinity last Friday and Saturday, both the girls and the boys sit 3rd in region standings. This week, the Raiders will meet Lassiter and Woodstock which could change that. The teams had a good preparation in this past weekend’s matches.

The Raider girls lost to Cherokee Friday night. Despite the final score, the Raiders fought hard and played tough against the number eight team in Georgia. The Raiders were able to limit the Cherokee offense in the first half by full court pressing, applying pressure onto ball handlers and playing help defense on open shooters. Junior Emily Lee had the most success with this press, stealing the ball from the Warriors multiple times and then finding her teammates open for easy baskets. Freshman Lexi Harris put together a solid game for the Raiders, grabbing multiple offensive rebounds in the game and putting them back up for easy layups. Against Blessed Trinity, the girls were able to come away with a comeback win, 62-57. Down two points at halftime, the girls came out with intensity and desire in the second half. Coach Kelterborn made the switch to the full court press again, and the girls immediately opened the quarter on a 7-0 run. Senior Neusha Green was key to the victory, making shots out of the low post and securing multiple offensive rebounds that clinched the victory for the Raiders. For a stretch, the Raiders were even feeding her the ball at the foul line and allowing her to make passes to open shooters. As the game wound down, the girls impressed as a team, making unselfish passes to break the press and draining the clock down to the final buzzer. This week’s upcoming games against could potentially see them rising as high as number 1 in region standings. 

The Raider boys also lost to region leader Cherokee Friday night. Despite a slow start out of the gate which saw them down 16-3, the boys fought hard. Junior shooting guard Hunter Bloom, a new face on the court, hit a three pointer just minutes after coming in the game, making the defense respect him from the outside. The Raider defense in the paint was strong. Despite multiple Warriors being taller than the Raiders, they were able to keep them out of the paint and force them to take shots from the outside. On Saturday, the boys took on Blessed Trinity. Though the final score was 44-55, the boys started the 4th quarter with the intensity and passion they need for this week’s upcoming games. Down 29-42 at the start of the 4th quarter, the Raiders began to press the Blessed Trinity ball handlers, forcing them into some ill-advised passes which swung the momentum in our favor. Junior Alex Packman played very well in the second half, diving on multiple loose balls and battling down low with Titan defenders. Alex also drew a foul and made both free throws late in the game to cut the Titan lead to eight points. Junior guard Landon Hong saw success with the press, using use his speed to deflect passes and cover multiple Titans which disrupted their offensive flow. 

While this may have been a tough weekend for the Raiders, they were able to face quality competition and gain experience that will help them this season. Both teams hope to rise in region standings this week, beginning Tuesday at Lassiter. Friday is Winterfest at Walton, and Woodstock will travel to meet your Raiders at home. Make sure to be a part of this week’s excitement by coming out to support your Raiders!