Add in a new coaching staff with Final Four experience and an early season win over defending AAAAA state champion McEachern, and that optimism has signs of yielding another stellar season on the hard court for the Lady Raiders.
“We’re excited about what this program can be this year,” said first-year head coach Mike House, who comes to Alpharetta after taking Jonesboro to a 25-6 record and trip to the AAAA state semifinals last season. “We’ve set a lot of goals and they start with being great on defense and executing as one of the fastest teams in the state.
“If we do that I think another 20-win season is coming and hopefully a chance at a region championship and getting to the Final Four like the boys did here a year ago.”
Alpharetta went 22-6 and 24-4 the last two seasons under previous head coach Angela Anderson-Hurt — winning the 6AAAAA championship last year behind a perfect 12-0 region record. The Lady Raiders advance to the Sweet 16 of the state playoffs with a 56-38 win over Cherokee before losing a nail-biter to Mill Creek 51-49.
House said he hopes to build off the foundation left by the previous staff at Alpharetta while adding a few new weapons to the toolbox from his days at Jonesboro — including a higher pace of play that features a full-court pressing defense and a more aggressive speed to the offense.
“We’re really looking to stretch the floor and use all 94 feet, especially on defense. It’s a change of mentality to what was here before and it’s been a challenge at times but we have some great senior leadership to rely on.”
Leading the change in offensive philsophies will be senior guards Lauren Brown and Kylee Smith — a pair of four-year starters committed to Elon and Vanderbilt respectively.
“It’s huge to have that leadership here. They know what it takes to get to the next level and to have those two modeling that on the team and exemplify it will inject the concepts and principles to be successful to the team,” said House.
Other key players will include 6-foot-4 post player Brittany Outlaw, freshman gaurd Vashnie Perry and junior forward Jasmine Estwick.