The Raider boys are on to the state tournament! Despite a loss to Cherokee on Friday, the program made significant strides this season, opening the year to one of the best starts in team history, finishing third in the region, and becoming the first Raider team in the region championship since the 1989 season. This team has been determined to compete since they took the floor in the fall and Friday’s game was no exception.
Despite the pressure of facing a Warrior team with only four losses this season, the Raiders did not waver. They held the Warriors in check on offense, playing aggressive man to man defense and boxing out larger Warrior players. The Raiders’ ability to limit offensive rebounds and second chance points was important. Toni Adenupe lead the rebounding effort for the team, being very physical with the Cherokee centers down low, refusing to let them establish position in the post and keeping them from being able to get loose balls. When the Raiders play the stronger teams in Georgia during the state tournament, limiting these second chance points and possessions will be critical.
Also important will be their ability to create extra possessions and capitalize on them. Before the game, Coach Abney encouraged his players to “control what you can control. Dive on loose balls, make the extra pass. One of the key things in basketball is to win the battle of possessions. Every possession is a new opportunity, so create opportunities for yourself.” On Friday, Carson Adler did this very well, grabbing two offensive rebounds and putting them in for layups early in the game to give the Raiders the lead. Carson also had two other opportunities off of rebounds, making two jump shots and forcing a Cherokee timeout. David Sickles had a big region tournament, playing his best basketball of the season after a second team all region selection this year. David has led this team in the postseason, helping everyone with their assignments on the court and creating opportunities for teammates. Heading into the state tournament, the team will look to David, Toni, and Cole Morris for senior leadership.
All of these seniors will be playing in their third straight state tournament under Coach Abney, which will start on Friday at 7:30 vs. East Coweta. East Coweta finished second in Region 2-AAAAAAA just behind Wheeler, so this promises to be an exciting game. Make sure to come out to Walton on Friday to support your Raiders as they begin a promising run in the state tournament.
Despite the loss, the program made significant strides this season, opening the year to one of the best starts in team history, finishing third in the region, and becoming the first Raider team in the region championship since the 2010 season. This team has been determined to compete since they took the floor in the fall and Friday’s game was no exception.