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!